They are known by many names, depending on whom you ask- sticker burs, grass burs, or sandburs. We all just cringe and a say a few choice words come spring or fall when we step on one of this little stickers with our bare feet. "YEE-OUCH" But..by taking a pro-active stand against this wicked little plant, we can enjoy our yard bare footed all summer long!
The Sticker Bur Plant
The scientific name for the sticker bur plant is "Cenchrus Echinatus" and it grows in both North and South America. Sticker Bur plants are a low-growing annual, meaning they return every year. They tend to thrive in poor soils with low fertilization levels. The weed is most often found in dry, sandy soils but can be found in all types of soil if the conditions are right. If you discover sticker burs in your lawn, just think of it as nature's way of saying you need to help out your soil!
They are an invasive weed, meaning they will take over if not contained. But there is relief in sight!
BEFORE You get them ~
Starting in February, put out a granular pre-emergent, we recommend Balan 2.5G. The pre-emergent must be applied every 3 months thereafter. Balan will provide season long control of the sticker burs before they come up. Balan will also control crabgrass and many other types of grassy weeds.
After you already have them, now what?
Once sticker burs are growing and you notice that you have a few in your shoe strings, it is to late to do anything about the actual 'sticker bur'. Most people notice this later in the year when all of a sudden it seems that their yard has been over taken by these weeds. You can apply a spray that we recommend called Image, and this will kill the sticker bur weed, but will not do anything for the 'sticker bur' seeds you already have in your yard and you will continue to find them stuck to your shoes.
Choosing Organic Methods
Many people dont like the idea of using chemicals on their lawns, and there are a few organic options available.
Simply pull them out! Make sure to use a good pair of gloves and firmly grasp the weed as close to the root as possible. Doing this when the weed has green stickers on it is better as they tend to stay with the actual weed better. Once the plant and stickers fully mature and they turn a brown color they will attach to anything they come in contact with and you can accidently drop a few on the ground, thus helping re-seeding for next year.
Also available is a great tool called a "Weed Popper". It has a long handle like a hoe and has metal tines on the end with a lever action. You simply push it into the ground by the weed and push down in the same motion as you would a shovel and the weed 'pops' out. Make sure to do it gently so you don't loose any stickers and discard the plant.
NOTE: Corn gluten cannot be used on a newly started lawn.
Corn Gluten Meal
Another way to organically fight sticker burs is to use Corn Gluten Meal. Corn gluten helps build organic matter in the soil and with that comes humic acid, which when present, stops the germination of noxious annual weeds like the sticker burs.
At the begining of the growing season, usually late February, early March, spread Corn gluten over the affected area using 10 lbs. for each 1,000 sq. ft. Not only will corn gluten enrich your soil, it also serves as a pre-emergent herbicide and will help prevent other weeds from growing as well. Repeat your application of corn gluten every six weeks until six weeks before our first frost.