Sticker Bushes and How to Get Rid of Them Easily?

Plants have evolved all sorts of weird defense mechanisms, from closing themselves when touched to eating things that come their way, but most of the common of them all is stickers or also known as thorns, prickles, and spines. One of these plants is sticker bushes, which can have different types of stickers from pointed to long.

So are these bushes for your backyard and why?

Sticker bushes are a type of bushes that contain tiny sharp stickers or pointed tips in the stem or other part of the bush and also have colorful flowers and fruits. As these stickers can create pain when coming in contact, these bushes are placed as a barrier to block intruders from coming into the property. 

These plants can be useful as well as painful for you. What is the best way to have them in your backyard and how to remove them if you don’t like these sticker bushes? Let’s talk about this in detail. 

how to get rid of sticker bushes from lawn

What are sticker bushes? 

Sticker bushes are a type of bush that contains a lot of stickers or also known as thorns, prickles, or spines in the stem or other parts of the bush. These painful bushes disguise themselves by growing beautiful and colorful flowers and fruits, which can sometimes be edible. 

These sticker bushes are mostly winter-season plants and can grow in the yard for years before dying off. Sticker bushes are mostly invasive in nature, meaning they can easily grow and cover up the whole place if not controlled carefully. 

These sticker bushes can be really hard to control or maintain as it is difficult to work when there are a lot of tiny sharp teeth waiting to stick and peer in your skin, making them not desired by a lot of homeowners but it can be useful in some areas. 

What are sticker bushes called?

The most common sticker bushes are called Thorny Bougainvillea Bushes and Vines, Crown of, Thorn Plants (Euphorbia milii), Thorny Firethorn Shrub (Pyracantha), Thorny Rose Shrub (Rosa rugosa), Agarita (Mahonia trifoliolata), Japanese Barberry (Berberis thunbergii), Chinese Quince (Chaenomeles speciosa), Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides), Common Hawthorn Spiky Shrub (Crataegus monogyna), Spiky Blackberry Shrub (Rubus fruticosus)

identify sticker bushes

How to identify sticker bushes?

Identifying sticker bushes can be tricky sometimes as they look very beautiful and delicate with colorful flowers and thin stems but if you look closer all the bushes will have some things in common like hairy leaves, thin stems, short height, and those painful stickers in large quantities. 

  • Hairy and small leaves 
  • Thin branches or stem
  • The bushes are very short and wide so they can be 12 to 15 inches tall
  • Stickers or thorns in the stems and branches of the bushes

If what you are seeing are not sticker bushes then they can be spiky grass. Spiky grass also resembles some of the characteristics of sticker bushes so it can be confusing. We have a detailed guide about spiky grass which you can check out here.

uses and benefits of sticker bushes in your lawn

Uses and purpose of sticker bushes in your house and garden

There can be many uses for sticker bushes in your garden and backyard but the most common use of sticker bushes is to protect the home from intruders and unwanted animals. These sticker bushes are very painful when they come in contact with the skin and can also cause irritation. 

The bushes are hard to jump over as they are also wide as well as the width of around 4 to sometimes 12 inches and the stickers stick into the clothes very easily but are also really hard to get rid of.

The other very common use of these sticker bushes in the backyard is for aesthetics as they produce very beautiful and colorful flowers with different kinds of fruits which make your garden look good and colorful. The flowers and fruits stay safe from unwanted animals due to these painful stickers making it a lot easier for you to maintain. 

Where should you place sticker bushes? 

The best place for sticker bushes in the backyard can be determined by three things. The first of these is the place where you don’t want anyone to come into your property, like windows or the boundaries of your backyard. Placing sticker bushes beneath the window sill will make it a lot more difficult for the thief to climb and come into the house without making contact with the bush.

The second thing to consider is that these bushes are not placed in the path or anywhere you regularly go or your kids use to play in the backyard as brushing up with these bushes when walking or playing can be very painful. The third thing is aesthetics, as some owners want these bushes for their colorful flowers, so placing them where it makes your backyard look good and beautiful.

So keep these 3 things in mind before allowing the sticker bushes to grow in your backyard and place it according to your use and need. 

how to maintain or prune sticker bushes

How to maintain and prune stickers or thorny bushes

If you are planting sticker bushes in your backyard for privacy or for just the looks of their beautiful flowers, maintaining them is necessary so that it doesn’t just cover up the whole place and become a problem for you. 

To prune the sticker bushes, wear thick gloves and boots and full-body clothes, to cover up your whole body so that the stickers don’t have a chance to stick to your skin. After wearing all these things, take precautions with these bushes as they can still do some damage. 

Things you should wear:

  • Safety glasses
  • Thick gloves with leather palms
  • Knee-high rubber boots
  • A heavy old quilted canvas coat
  • A knit hat
  • Corduroy pants, worn OVER the boots to keep thorns out

To prune the sticker bushes, if they have grown really large, then go for the base of the bush with the thicker stem as it will help you to prune faster, but at the same time reaching to that thick stem at the base can be tricky so what I do is, I wear thick clothes and push the small stems with my body to reach to the stem at the base and cut it out with the pruner. Then cut the smaller stems so that I can remove them from the bush easily without much effort. 

how to kill and remove sticker bushes

How to kill and Get Rid of stickers

There are 2 ways you can easily kill and remove sticker bushes from the backyard. Either you can put some effort and remove the sticker bushes or if you want it easy then spray chemical herbicide directly into the bushes will burn the whole bush and then it will be a lot easier to remove. 

  • Mechanical way – To remove sticker bushes from the lawn or backyard, the mechanical or manual way can be really tough and take a lot of time as the sticker can cause a lot of problems. The best way to do it manually is to start from the outside and then try to cut the main stems of the bush and remove the whole bush. Wear thick clothes and take all the necessary precautions you can take as stickers are really irritating and can cause problems from anywhere. 
  • Using herbicide – The easiest way to remove the sticker bush from your backyard would be to use a chemical herbicide, which can easily burn the plant in 2 to 3 sprays. The herbicide I use to kill bushes in my yard is  Drexel MSMA 6 Plus HERBICIDE. Add the recommended quantity of herbicide written on the pack to water and create a mixture. And carefully spray it only on the bushes or areas as chemical herbicides can kill or damage any plant which comes in contact. 
how to kill sticker bushes or grass burrs with vinegar

How to kill sticker bushes or grass burrs with vinegar

Killing sticker bushes with vinegar is a natural and easy way to eliminate them from your backyard. Create a mixture of 2 tsp of vinegar with one liter of water and add a little bit of soap which helps the solution to stick to the plant and start working. 

Spray the solution 2 to 3 times to make sure all of the sticker bushes are burned and dead and then remove them from the lawn and clean up.

Spray the solution only on the unwanted bushes or plants as vinegar can kill any plant which comes in contact. 

how to prevent sticker bushes in your backyard

How to prevent sticker bushes in your backyard

As the saying goes, prevention is better than cure. So preventing the lawn or backyard from getting is better than removing them after they are starting to grow as sticker bushes are an invasive species. So there are 2 ways you can prevent the sticker bushes from growing on your lawn. Using pre-emergent and maintaining the backyard. 

  • Pre-emergent – Using pre-emergent is the easiest way to stop the seeds of sticker bushes from germinating in your lawn. If you know the cycle of sticker bushes, the seeds of the sticker bushes start to germinate in the fall. So spray the pre-emergent from the late summer to late fall 2 to 3 times to make sure not a single seed can germinate in the lawn. 

If you start a lawn or a garden then spraying the pre-emergent will also stop the grass seeds or plant seeds from germinating. So don’t apply pre-emergent if you are starting a new lawn or garden or apply pre-emergent and wait for at least 2 weeks so that the effect of pre-emergent has gone from the soil and then you can put new seeds in it. 

  • Maintenance – maintaining the lawn or backyard so that no unwanted plants can grow in it is the best way as it is healthier for your lawn and also environment friendly. But the con of it is that it takes a lot of effort to maintain the lawn and backyard to keep away the weeds and sticker bushes. 

Maintenance is done in 3 ways. 

  • Don’t keep any open patches as it will help the sunlight to go directly into the soil and help the seeds to start germinating. 
  • Fertilize the soil to keep it healthy for the plants to grow tall and healthy. 
  • Water the lawn properly as the weeds can easily grow in dry soil when the grass or other plants fight for survival. 

Best pre-emergent herbicide for sticker bushes?

The best pre-emergent herbicide to prevent sticker bushes in your lawn is Ike’s Sandbur & Crabgrass Preventer as it is specifically made to eliminate these bushes’ seeds to germinate in your lawn. Apply the pre-emergent from late summer to late fall 2-3 times to prevent any seed from germinating. 


The sticker bushes are an invasive species, which can add beauty to your backyard with colorful flowers but its stickers are not good and can be really irritating, to remove the bush, you can either use herbicides or do it manually if you have a lot of time. But as always, prevention is better than cure. So use a pre-emergent herbicide in your lawn in the early to late fall and maintain the lawn to keep the sticker bushes away. 

Get Set Gardening!