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Gardening Q&A

How do I rid my yard of grass burs?

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Guadalupe County Master Gardeners is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or

March 1, 2015 | 3,641 views | 3 comments

How do I rid my yard of grass burs?

Grass burs (or sand burs) are summer annual grassy weeds that start germinating in late spring and continue germinating until late summer or early fall. The weed will continue to grow until the first freeze.

Grass burs grow best in sandy, poor, bare soil. A well-maintained turf does not have many grass burs. Proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing create a dense turf that crowds out these weeds.

However, if these weeds are a problem for you, there are things that you can do to eliminate them as you work to improve your soil and turf over time. If you prefer organic solutions, as I do, spread corn gluten meal in early spring and late summer using a rotary spreader at a rate of twenty pounds per 1000 square feet of lawn. Water the area lightly after application to activate the corn gluten meal. This product not only helps knock out the noxious weeds by preventing germination, but also adds organic matter to the soil. It is safe for children and pets.

If you a not an organic gardener, you can shop for a pre-emergent herbicide labeled for grass bur control. You can expect to see that pendimethalin or oryzalin will be an ingredient. Please read and follow all instructions on the label. Apply by mid-March, or whenever the soil temperature reaches 52 degrees. Water the area after application. In heavily infested areas, you may want to reapply the herbicide every six weeks through September.

If your grass burs have already germinated, the previously mentioned remedies will not work. Your organic, natural choices include herbicidal soaps, citrus oil-based herbicides, and vinegar (acetic acid). All of these products are non-selective; that is, they kill weeds AND grass. If you choose vinegar, select a product with at least 20% acetic acid concentration. Caution: although acetic acid is considered a natural weed killer, it can still cause permanent eye damage and skin burns.

Another post-emergent option that is effective on grass burs is MSMA. Use this product if the weeds are young. Imazaquin (Image) is also effective. For best results, wait until the daytime temperatures reach 75 degrees. Note that MSMA may harm some turf grasses. Read the label.

If you have a light infestation of grass burs, I recommend a good weeding tool and a strong back. Digging up these weeds and discarding the stickers (seeds) will be your most effective option.

Once you rid your yard of these weeds, you need to fill the empty spaces with turf, or consider a reseeding program, if your grass is not hardy enough to fill the bare space. If desirable grasses do not fill these spaces, the weeds will be back. Study your soil and environmental conditions to determine the reason for the sparse turf.

Penny Wallace is a Texas Master Gardener with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension. If you have a question to be answered, call the Master Gardeners at 830-379-1972 or leave a message to be answered. The website is The Master Gardener research library is open Mondays from 8:30 to noon, at 210 East Live Oak Street in Seguin.
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Your Opinions and Comments

4th Generation Texan  
Sutherland Spriungs  
March 2, 2015 7:53pm
A goat for every 100 square feet!

Lodi, Texas  
March 2, 2015 12:00pm
Considering the 'Penny' method, will the burrs that grow back be organic? LOL

T-Bone Pickens  
March 2, 2015 11:08am
Or you could just use a pear burner. More fun and immediate results. After you have completely annihilated the weeds, spray down with water. Use a rake to loosen the soil or if you have a garden tiller, use it instead. Go... More ›

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