What Are the Sticker Weeds in My Yard?
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I know it is winter time, but do you look forward to spring and taking a nice barefoot walk on your lawn? As a child I can remember playing on the lawn barefoot and getting trapped or surrounded by a patch of what we called stickerweeds, aka Lawn Burrweed or Spurweed. Lawn Burrweed is a winter annual that germinates in thin turf in the fall months as temperatures cool. It remains small and inconspicuous during the cold winter months. As temperatures warm in the early spring, lawn burrweed initiates a period of rapid growth and begins to form spine-tipped burs in the leaf axils.
Infestations are increasing in North Carolina, particularly in the southern Coastal Plant and Piedmont. I have received multiple calls about this weed for the past two years in April so made myself a note to talk about this in December. You can help prevent this weed by keeping your lawn thick and healthy by applying fertilizer and lime according to soil test results and mowing at the proper height and frequency for your specific turfgrass. Healthy turf can outcompete lawn burweed for light, water, and nutrients, and reduce the level of infestation.
If you have an infestation that you need to manage, the time to treat for this weed with a post-emergent herbicide is now – the winter months of December, January and February. The weed is smaller and easier to control during this time of year and has not yet developed the spine-tipped burs. This weed grows low to the ground, so mowing is ineffective at removing the burs. Control is not impossible in March, April, and May, but the spines have already formed by this time and will remain even after you treat and the weed dies.
To see photos of this weed and for recommendations for herbicides that you can use to control this weed, conduct an internet search using the words, NC State, Turffiles, and Lawn Burrweed.
Happy New Year!