Are you currently being tormented by thousands of tiny little stickers in your yard? Is it unsafe to walk through your yard barefoot? When you pull off your shoes, have you noticed the bottoms being covered by lots of sharp little stickers or “burs”? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, the culprit of your misery is probably a pesky little weed called lawn burweed. Burweed is a winter annual that germinates in the fall when the temperature cools down and grows through the winter. When the springtime temperatures begin to warm up, this weed begins to produce seeds. These burweed seeds have sharp spines on them that stick into everything. They stick into the bottoms of your shoes, tires on your car, the lawn mower, and the bottom of your feet. When the seeds fall off the bottom of your shoe, they have been deposited for new burweed plants to come up in the Fall. This is why they usually grow very thick in the high traffic areas of your yard.
How do you control lawn burweed? Well, there is some good news and some bad news. Lawn burweed is easy to control, but if you already have the stickers it is too late. You can kill the burweed in the Spring, but the stickers have already formed and will still be an issue after the plant is dead. The best way to control burweed is to treat your lawn for the weed in December, January or February. This allows you to kill the burweed before it has a chance to form the spiny seeds. A preemergent herbicide like Atrazine or Pendamethalin applied to your lawn in January or February is a very effective way to control burweed and lots of other winter weeds. If you notice that some of the burweed has slipped by the first application, you could use an alternate herbicide such as 24-D, Trimec, or Mansion in early March to kill the remaining plants before they develop seeds.
There are a few tips to keep in mind when applying any herbicide. Don’t get to close to flower beds or the root zone of azaleas, boxwoods, camelias, or other ornamental plants when applying herbicides or serious damage could occur. Auxins like 24-D or Trimec can also damage centipede grass and are not recommended for centipede grass. Do not use Mansion (metsulfuron) on your lawn if you have a bahia grass lawn because it will kill the bahia grass along with the weeds.