There is a satisfying feeling of walking on the lawn with bare feet. It feels like you are walking in a soft bed. Pets and children also love to roam and play on the lawn. But sometimes it is not at all a good experience for us and our pets and children when we have pointed sharp plants growing in our lawn which can stick to our feet or clothes and can hurt and can be a lot of pain.
So what are these sticker plants and how to get rid of them on our lawn?
These spiky plants are called sticker weeds. Sticker weeds are invasive plants which is a winter annual weed that starts to grow in the fall and become mature in the winter and produce seeds in the fall. The best and easiest way to kill the sticker weeds in your lawn is to apply chemical herbicides like Drexel MSMA 6 Plus HERBICIDE and to prevent it from coming back apply pre-emergent like Ike’s Sandbur & Crabgrass Preventer
But just applying herbicide to this plant is not enough to get rid of it. There are a lot of things you need to know before tackling this weed on your lawn. Let’s see in detail what sticker weed is and its prevention and cure.
What are sticker weeds?
Sticker weed is a winter annual plant that starts to germinate in the fall when the temperature starts to cool down and then grows in the winter months and then produces flower and seed pods in the springs and starts to die when the temperature starts to rise again and the cycle begins again in the fall.
This plant becomes more dangerous because it is a winter-season plant meaning it grows in the lawn when other plants and grass in the lawn go dormant. As it is a weed plant, it is invasive and fights for light, air, and nutrition from the lawn making the grass vulnerable and hard to grow in the lawn.
The main problem of the whole sticker weed is the seed pod which starts to grow in late winter and early spring. These seedpods have spikes that can go into your skin and cause irritation or stick to your clothes very easily and make a lot of pain removing them from the clothes are also very tough. Sticker weeds have seedpods that have stickers on them and not the whole plant like the sticker bushes or spiky grass that can have stickers on the whole plant and stems.
Types of sticker weeds and what is it called?
Sticker weed, scientifically known as Soliva pterosperma. This weed has a lot of different names in different places. The most common names are lawn burweed, spur weed, sandbur, grass burrs, grass sticker, sanbur, and sandspur, referred to as sticker plants by lawn owners.
How to identify sticker weeds?
Sticker weed is a low-growing plant that is a distant relative of sunflowers with ferny tufts and leaves which are finely divided and look like carrot foliage. The plant has tiny flowers which set a cluster of seeds that look like buttons with pointy heads which form in the leaf axils.
Some of the main characteristics are:
- The plants have pointed bright green leaves which closely resemble sparsely and are hairy.
- Small flowers on top and spine-tipped burs that are growing in the leaf axils.
- The seed pods grow in a long row on the top of the flower.
- It is a short plant that grows very low to the ground and the height can be up to 5 inches.
- Leaves grow in the opposite direction and are divided into many segments and lobes.
How to control and remove sticker weeds?
The control of sticker weed in the lawn is very difficult to do if you don’t understand its life cycle properly or don’t have any knowledge about it as the control can be useless if you don’t do it at the correct time and with the correct method.
The sticker weed plants start to grow in the early fall and get mature in the winter months, setting flowers in the late winter, then producing seeds in the early spring. So if you want to eliminate this sticker weed from your lawn, take action when the plant is still in its early stage which is in the fall.
There are 3 ways to remove or eliminate sticker weeds from your lawn. Let’s discuss all 3 of these methods in detail:
- Mechanical way – If your lawn has small sticker weeds growing all over the place with other plants then the best way to remove them is by pulling them out manually by hand or with the help of a tool. This method can be a little tedious as it can take a lot of time and a lot of effort and the stickers are also very painful when they stick to the skin.
For proper precautions, wear thick gloves, a double layer of clothing, and thick long boots to protect yourself from the stickers. Keep a bag with you to put any weeds to pull from the lawn as leaving them in the lawn can cause pain again to you and it can also make new plants grow back.
- Using herbicide – There are two ways or say times to use chemical herbicide in the lawn to remove sticker weed in the lawn. If you know that you have a sticker weed problem in your lawn then apply a pre-emergent herbicide in the late summer to stop the germination of new seeds and not give the sticker weed any chance to grow in your lawn. You need to apply the pre-emergent herbicide two to three times to make sure no seeds germinate in the fall.
The other way of using chemical herbicide on sticker weed is after it is growing in your lawn. Use a glyphosate herbicide to kill any weed you see on the lawn. Spray the herbicide directly on the plant 2 to 3 times until it is dead. Keep in mind that post-emergent herbicides like glyphosate will kill all the plants which come in contact. So use the herbicide carefully and only spray on the weeds and plants you don’t need. The best herbicide which I use personally is Drexel MSMA 6 Plus HERBICIDE, which is really effective.
Whenever using chemical herbicides, use necessary precautions like gloves and eyeglasses to protect yourself as these herbicides are harmful and can cause irritation and other problems.
- Natural ways to control – If you don’t want to use chemical herbicides in your backyard or garden and want to control sticker weed naturally then you can use vinegar. Vinegar is acidic in nature and can burn any plant which comes in its contact as it acts as a herbicide but is organic.
To prepare a mixture, add 2 to 5 tsp of vinegar in one cup of water and add one tsp dish soap, and stir. The dish soap will help the mixture to stick to the plant and not runoff. This mixture can be sprayed directly on unwanted weeds or plants. Spray the mixture 2-3 times until the weed is fully dead and no new weed is growing in that area.
Keep in mind to keep this mixture away from the plants you want in your backyard as it will kill it or at least do some damage.
How to prevent sticker weeds to come back into your lawn
As the saying goes, precaution is better than cure. So preventing the sticker weed from growing in your lawn is better than controlling the weed afterward as preventing it will be much easier and take less effort than controlling it with post-emergent herbicide or by removing all the weed manually.
So let’s take a look at how you can prevent the sticker weed in your lawn.
- Pre-emergent – The first way to prevent the sticker weed in your lawn is by applying a pre-emergent herbicide. If you know that your lawn has a sticker weed problem then apply the pre-emergent in the early fall, before the new sticker weed seeds start to germinate.
Apply the pre-emergent for 2 to 3 weeks in the fall to make sure that the new seed is left to germinate and all the seeds are dead. If you are sowing the new lawn or garden then make sure you don’t spray the pre-emergent on that area as it will kill all the seeds in the soil and stop them from germination.
- Maintenance – The second and best way to prevent the sticker weed seeds from germinating in your lawn or garden is to maintain the lawn properly and don’t give the chance for the sticker weed to grow in the lawn. Keep the grass’s height high so that the sunlight cannot go through to the soil and help the sticker weed seeds to germinate. Aerate and fertilize the lawn timely so that the soil is healthy and the grass has plenty of nutrients to grow. If your lawn is healthy and there are no bare patches, then the sticker weed won’t have the chance to germinate and grow in the lawn.
Best pre-emergent herbicide to prevent sticker weeds
The best pre-emergent herbicide to prevent stickers in your lawn is Ike’s Sandbur & Crabgrass Preventer as it is specifically made to eliminate these weeds in your lawn. Apply the pre-emergent from late summer to late fall 2-3 times to prevent any seed from germinating.
The sticker weeds are an invasive species, which is not good for a lawn and to remove them, 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 weed away.
Get Set Gardening!