We often get several calls in the spring about a weed that comes up in our lawns that has sharp “burrs” or “stickers” that hurt our feet if we walk outside barefoot. Some people call it stickerweed or spur weed, and if you ever step on it without any shoes on, you may call it something else that I can’t put in the paper! This weed is officially known as burweed, and it can be a big nuisance to people and pets. Burweed is a winter annual, which means that it germinates from seed and begins to grow in the Fall or Winter. It is a low growing weed that will often come up in bare or thin spots in our grass. Winter annuals like burweed will often begin to die off in the late spring or summer, but not before they produce their seed for the following season. In the case of burweed, their seeds are produced within the sharp burrs that cause so much pain when stepped on!
The problem with burweed is that when we get calls about it, it is often too late to do anything. If you have the burrs in your yard, the burweed has already gone to seed (the sharp burrs!) and there is not much you can do or spray to get rid of those burrs. The best method to control it is to spray a post emergence herbicide that is safe for your lawn in December, January, or February. If you have centipede grass, something like atrazine or metsulfuron will kill this weed. These products may also help to kill the burweed at this time of year, but the burrs will still remain and be the seed for next year’s problem.
So, if you are having trouble with this weed, you can try to control it now if you’d like, but make a mental note to spray for it next winter. Watch where you step!