How to kill stickers?

Question for Dan Gill: I have a lawn that has been neglected for several years. Now we have a bad sticker problem. I understand that it is a winter weed, but can you tell me what I can do to get things back under control? — Randy

Answer: I’ve gotten lots of questions about stickers in the lawn this spring. The culprit is burweed or sticker weed (Soliva pterosperma), a cool-season annual weed that germinates in the fall as temperatures cool. It grows over the winter and flowers and produces seed pods in the spring.

It is the seed pods that cause problems as they produce sharp spines as they mature. The spines on the pods can painfully puncture feet when walked on barefooted.

Once the spiny seed pods have formed, there is nothing you can do to alleviate the problem. So, it’s really too late to deal with this weed this year.

Here’s how to make sure you don’t have a problem next spring. A two-prong approach will work best when controlling burweed or sticker weed. The first effort is preemptive and involves the use of a preemergence herbicide or weed preventer. A preemergence herbicide is applied before the seeds start germinating in the fall, and it kills the seeds as they germinate.

Early application before seeds germinate is critical. Apply the preemergence herbicide in early October following label directions. Looks for products such as Sta-Green Crab-Ex, Green Light Crabgrass Preventer 2, Hi-Yield Turf and Ornamental Weed and Grass Stopper, Scotts Halts and other brands at your local nursery. (Ask the staff to help you select the proper product.) That’s the first line of attack.

Then, look over your lawn very carefully in December, January and February. If you see any young plants that managed to get by the preemergence herbicide application, spray the lawn with a lawn weed killer like Weed B Gon, Weed Free Zone, Atrazine or other brands at your local nursery. If needed, you could make a second application following label directions. That’s your second line of attack.

Dan Gill is a horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter. Email questions to [email protected] or add them to the comment section below. Follow his stories at, on Facebook and @nolahomegardenon Instagram.


April 15, 2017

We have a sticker weed in our back yard. I think it is called Grassbur. It appeared last year and we tried to kill it but with no success. It is back again this year. Can you tell us how to go about getting rid of it.

If you have stickers now it is the winter annual spurweed. Sandburs are on taller, grassier plants and their stickers are produced in the summer. Spurweed has a nasty little sticker but unfortunately the sticker is the seed and is left behind as these winter weeds are dying with hot weather. Fertilizing the lawn to buffer the stickers now, or raking them up is your only recourse. You can’t kill the seeds. Next winter, monitor for the weed as it begins to grow and kill it BEFORE it blooms and sets more stickers.

May 28, 2016

What is this that’s got into about one third of my south side lawn and what will kill it?

It is a winter annual weed called spurweed. We had a bumper crop of winter weeds this year that started early and stayed late! They should be dying out soon. The problem with this weed is that the seeds that are formed to replenish it next fall are stickers, making it painful to walk on in bare feet or for dogs to walk on. Pre-emergent controls next fall can help prevent it, but also look for signs of it in December and January, and spray with a 2,4-D product to kill it before it blooms and sets stickers next year. There is nothing to do this late, except try to rake it up or get the grass to grow enough to buffer the stickers.

February 2016

My yard is absolutely covered in spurweed this year. I want to kill it before it forms the stickers. My question is what can you use to kill out spur weed and not hurt your grass? What works and when do you use it? Does round-up work and if it does what mixture? The grasses that are growing is mixed and mainly Bermuda. Your help with this would be greatly appreciated.

Spurweed will be blooming and setting the seed (sticker) soon. If your Bermuda is TOTALLY dormant, a light spray of Round-up will work. Round-up is only recommended for dormant Bermuda. Zoysia grass often has some green at the base, and a heavy spray can do damage to the lawn. You can also use a broadleaf herbicide to kill the weeds without damaging the lawn, but I would do so soon.

December 2012

With the crazy weather we have had this year, we have a yard full of stickers. Don’t remember ever seeing them this time of the year. Would it be ok to spray them now? If yes, what would you recommend?

The sticker weeds are normally here this time of year, but this year they are growing faster than normal. The sticker weed is called spurweed and it germinates in the fall, grows all winter and dies in late spring. If you already have stickers, then it is definitely ahead of schedule, since the stickers are the seeds that are produced after it blooms. Pick a mild day with little wind and spray with a broadleaf herbicide containing 2, 4-D. You don’t have to spray the entire yard, just where the weeds are. Luckily it is an annual weed, and if you can kill it before too many seeds have set it will reduce the population for next year, but if allowed to grow unchecked, you will have more and more stickers each year.

May 2012

I’m hoping you can help me with a problem we are having with our grass! We live out in the country in the middle of a field. We have always had several varieties of different grasses in our “yard”. However, this year, what grass we have seems to have been taken over by stickers! The “grass” which is now mostly stickers is all brown and crunchy. We have lots of little white blooms of some kind (I’m assuming they are the seeds of the sticker “grass”) all over our yard. Can you offer any advice as to what we can do to kill these things and save our grass? We can’t even walk the dog without him getting them stuck in his paws!! Where could they have come from? Our yard is about an acre in size.

Weeds of all kinds seem to be more prolific this year. The weed that produces the tiny sticker is called spurweed. I doubt you still have any blooms on it, because they were out most of the winter and are dying now. The sticker is the seed of the plant. Spurweed germinates in the fall, producing a ground-hugging plant with small parsley-like leaves. It does have a tiny white flower and then the seeds are produced which have stickers. It is a winter annual which dies back in the spring/early summer. The seeds will germinate in the fall and start all over again. A few this year, become a lot more each subsequent year if you don’t do something. For now, fertilize the grass (and water when dry) to get it high enough to buffer the seeds/stickers, so you and the dogs can walk. Next
fall, either use a pre-emergent herbicide, or spray with a post-emergent herbicide with 2,4-D in it between December and February to kill the weeds before they set more seeds next spring.


I missed the chance to apply a pre-emergent herbicide this October to kill spurweed. Are there any 2.4-D combination products that are safe to use on Centipede grass? I’ve got Centipede and Bermuda in the problem area. If so, I understand you use it December thru March, at a time when temperatures exceed 55 degrees. Do you agree?

Spurweed ( Soliva pterosperma), also called lawn burweed, stickerweed, and sandbur has become quite a nuisance in many lawns and I am happy you are preparing to kill it way before bloom time and then seed (sticker) set. There are numerous formulations of two and three-way mixes of 2,4-D, dicamba and MCPP. Make sure you read the label before purchasing that they are safe for Southern grasses. Many will give reduced rates of application for Centipede and St. Augustine. You do want a fairly, calm sunny day with temperatures above 55 for best application and control. Spray once and then monitor your weed population and you may need to reapply two weeks later.

February 2008

My good friend does have serious problems with sand spurs. I told her that I thought you said you have to treat for sand spurs in the fall of the year, but that was about all I remember. Can you give us guidance on how to rid her yard of sand spurs? I have stepped on them before and I hate them.

I think you are referring to spurweed. This is the winter annual weed that is very low growing. It grows in the fall and winter, blooms with tiny white flowers in late winter to early spring, then sets the seed which is the noxious sticker. Sand spur is a summer weed which grows on a taller grassy plant with larger stickers. This is the season to control spurweed. By now, the weed should have germinated. Look closely at your lawn and if you have what looks like miniature parsley growing, spray with a broadleaf weed killer with 2, 4-D. If you can kill the weed before it blooms and sets the stickers, you should be in good shape.

November 2009

I need to know when to apply pre-emergent to kill sticker weeds. The yard has gotten so bad when you come in the bottom of your shoes have stickers and the poor dog hates to go outside to relieve herself. Also, what should I use?

I am glad you are asking now instead of spring when the stickers set. It is too late for a pre-emergent herbicide, but you can watch for the low parsley-like weed later this month or December and spray with a 2,4-D herbicide. The spurweed is a winter annual and germinates in the fall, grows all winter, blooms with tiny white flowers in late winter to early spring, then sets its seeds which are those noxious stickers before it dies for the season. Spraying in December, January or early February should do the trick.

September 2006

I’m on the Property Owners Association Board for a neighborhood in west Little Rock. In the past couple of years, we’ve noticed an invasion of what I think is spur weed- stickers, in our play ground and beach area. What chemical spray and procedure should we use this fall and in the future to get rid of these terrible nuisances?

You actually have two options. You can use a pre-emergent herbicide in mid October to mid November or you can wait for the weeds to germinate and then easily kill them with a broad leaf herbicide such as 2-4 D. The key is to make the application early enough in the winter season to prevent seed set. The seeds on spurweed are the stickers, and once formed you can’t get rid of them until the next season. Spray the post-emergent spray of 2, 4-D in January or February. As with any pesticides used around children or pets, read and follow all label directions for any precautions.

HELP!! About 2 weeks ago, I put out 3- 40 lb bags of Weed and Feed. It said it would kill henbit and sandburs and other weeds. Unfortunately, I did not save a bag to see exactly what all it said. Now my weeds are so beautiful and green and nothing is dead or dying. They look healthier than ever. The last two years the weeds have gotten worse and worse and I have got to nip them in the bud. But this has backfired and I have spent a lot of money and still have weeds. I saved an article out of the paper from last year from a lady who battled henbit, (even picked it all out by hand) and your advice to her was to put this stuff out in January, (which I did). I now have green weeds and nothing dying. I am beginning to not care if I have a lawn, just so I don’t have weeds. I have partly St. Augustine, which in one part of lawn is so thick; I don’t have a problem with weeds. In another part of the lawn there is a mixture of Bermuda and St. Augustine — that is where the weeds are taking over. I live in the middle of a pasture on 137 acres. Years ago, when we had cows, we sprigged a hybrid Bermuda grass called Alicia. It is great for cows and hay but not for flowers or gardening. It grows 12 foot long runners and when you fertilize your flowers or garden, the Alicia grass just goes wild. So I have mostly gone to shrubs and trees around my house because I like to do other things besides battle grass. The only thing to tame the Bermuda is Round-up. Is that what I must resort to for killing the weeds?

I wish you still had the bag. Many weed and feed products are a pre-emergent herbicide coupled with fertilizer. Pre-emergent herbicides are used to prevent weeds from germinating not kill those already growing. The product you applied can prevent your summer weeds — which include sandburs and crabgrass, but won’t have any impact on those winter weeds which are already growing. To prevent winter weeds you must use a PRE-emergent in November. As you noticed, you may have actually helped the winter weeds grow with that “feed” portion, which is fertilizer. For now, you can use a product containing 2,4- D — Trimec is one such product but there are many other brand names. Look for a broad leaf weed KILLER not PREVENTOR. Be sure you find a product that says it is safe to use on St. Augustine. There is nothing that would kill Bermuda without also killing the St. Augustine. Bermuda is a much tougher lawn than St. Augustine, and if you have sun, you may want to convert—giving yourself a weed free zone of mulch between lawn and flower beds. Good luck!

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How to Get Rid of Those Pesky Stickers in Your Lawn

One of the problems many people in Texoma and other dry climates are dealing with right now is that of stickers in their lawn. Also known as grass burrs, sand burrs, grass stickers, and pricking monsters, they stick to clothing, tires, shoes, and anything else they can grab hold of. Once they’re on you, they end up in your home. If you’ve dealt with these things, you know they don’t feel good when you step on them after they end up in your carpet. What can you do to get rid of them?

I turned to the Internet and discovered a fantastic article written by retired landscaper Phil Goold. He had a few suggestions that you may want to try.

Stickers are thriving right now is due to the drought and dying grass. One way to choke them out is to have a healthy lawn, but with watering restrictions, that makes things a bit more difficult. If you only have a few right now, try picking up the burrs by hand because the roots don’t run deep. Just remember a pair of thick gloves for the task, otherwise you’ll be cursing them even more.


When you mow your lawn, do so with a bag. Stickers are a seed, so they spread easily. Cut your lawn as short as you can, then head out to a store like Lowe’s or Home Depot to purchase weed killer. This isn’t a time when you’re looking for the cheapest product out there – you want to kill off the unwanted visitors to your yard.

Treat Your Yard

If you do spray your yard, know what you’re putting out there. Many products are harmful to pets and people, so be aware of that before you start spraying. Goold suggests organic weed killer such as orange oil as a safer alternative, though it sounds as though it may not be as effective. Many of our local lawn maintenance companies even have a special spray formulated specifically for stickers that does not require watering to be effective.

Fertilization and Continued Mowing

Fertilizing your yard will help your grass to grow, which will in turn choke out those burrs. Again, this is made more difficult by the fact that we can’t water our lawns. If your grass is growing anyway, continue to mow frequently and continue using a bag when you do. Your lawn will thank you for it, and your family will be thankful they aren’t stepping on those little suckers in the house.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Galloway

What have you tried to get rid of stickers? Have you had success using other methods?

How to Get Rid of Stickers or Sand Burrs

Stickers Are My Enemy! If you have stickers or sand burrs in your yard I’m sure you feel my pain. And when I say feel my pain, I mean it literally. I had had a little piece of the sticker embedded in my hand for months before it finally stopped hurting and went away. When we first moved onto our acreage we noticed a lot of stickers. There were so many other projects to take care of that we didn’t even worry about them the first year. In year two we realized that we had a severe problem that we needed to take care of before it got worse.

Since our lawnmower didn’t have a bagger on it, we were spreading sticker seeds everywhere each time we mowed. That combined with the fact that we weren’t treating the stickers with any weedkiller caused an increase in the population every year. I didn’t want to spray any chemicals, so we resorted to pulling them. This method worked well in the areas that had bermudagrass. The healthy bermuda has been effective in keeping the stickers out. Unfortunately, we don’t have grass on most of our property and the stickers and weeds are winning the fight.

The Sticker Battle Plan

  1. Pull them out at the roots – This works well if you have sporadic sticker plants
  2. Burn the entire plant – Worked OK, however, we noticed that they came back bigger the 2nd year
  3. Spray with chemicals – Worked the best but the tradeoff is that you are using chemicals
  4. Pick up seed heads that have fallen off of the plant – A must to avoid re-germination


I used to go out every morning for about 2 hours to pull stickers. It was effective but time-consuming. I realized there was no way that I would ever win the battle against the stickers. I would only recommend choosing this method if you have a small area of stickers and if you pull them as soon as you begin to see them produce seeds. Below is an affiliate link to the tool that I use to save my back from having to bend over.

Worth Garden Stand-Up Weeder and Root Removal Tool – Ergonomic Weed Puller with A 33” Tall Handle and Foot Pedal – Easy Weed Grabber Made from Rust-Resistant Steel – 3 Year Warranty


We have burned the entire plant for two years in a row. The first year we spot burned in early summer and they didn’t come back for the rest of the year. We thought that was going to be the way to get rid of them without having to use chemical weed killer. However, the next year they came back and seemed to be bigger.

We heard from several people that it takes seven years to completely kill off so we thought we would continue to burn them every year for seven years. The problem with that plan was that in year two we burned the stickers and all of the weeds and grass surrounding them. With nothing to compete with the stickers came back with a vengeance in year three!

In hindsight, I think that adding some grass seed after we burned the area would have been a better plan. Then there would have been some healthy vegetation to choke out the stickers the next year.


Spraying chemicals is the least appealing method to me, but we had to try it. We tried Round-Up and it worked ok, but we have an extensive area that is affected. Our neighbor used Pastora last year and said he didn’t have ANY stickers this year. So I reluctantly decided to use it this year. We don’t have any chickens or bees on our acreage right now so I figured if we were going to try it this would be the time to do it.

Although the label says that there are no grazing restrictions I don’t think that I can recommend using this product if you have any grazing animals that will come into contact with the sprayed area. But if you are treating an area that you can keep animals off of this seems to have worked like it said it would. Pastora is a potent chemical. You need to read all of the restrictions and directions to decide if it can and should be used on your property. You can read the label here.

We purchased a bagger for our zero turn mower last year and have been bagging most of the stickers rather than scattering them. Two weeks ago we mowed the area closest to the house. Then sprayed the Pastora according to the directions. We were amazed that we didn’t see any stickers re-growing. The label said that you could apply it again in 2 weeks so we repeated the process yesterday.

We did see a few places that the stickers were starting to grow, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that the second application will take care of them. If this works, then we will have won the battle (on the front 5 acres). The stickers aren’t as this on the back 5 acres because we don’t mow it as often so we haven’t spread them as much. We also didn’t burn out there so the stickers are competing with the field grass. We will be preparing that area for a fall planting of wildflowers soon.


To break the cycle, we needed to pick up the seeds that have dropped over the years. Our first attempt was very successful. We had an 8’x10′ shag rug that we chained to the Mule and drug around. It picked up thousands of stickers!!! Next, we got some old carpet and tried to pick up more. It was a tightly woven house carpet and we picked up about four stickers. Too bad we couldn’t travel back to the 70’s and pick up some shag carpet.

We came across The Sticker Picker during our research online to find out how other people have had success. It is the most wonderful invention! We were able to fill 3 sleeves with stickers in 1 afternoon. Visit their website for more information and to find a distributor near you (I am not affiliated with this company and will not receive any monetary compensation). They have two sizes to fit your need. We got the medium with replacement sleeves.

Me vs. Stickers

I feel like I have won the battle but probably not the war. But I know that it will be a fight to their death because I am NOT giving up. I have learned some valuable information over the last several years so I feel like I am better equipped to get rid of the stickers. The key is to stop the spreading of the seeds and to provide healthy grass or wildflowers to choke the stickers out. I’ll keep you updated on the progress and give you more in-depth information about each method we used.

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Here’s the deal.
I have the same problem with grassburr’s too. Too many to pull, so I have done the following:
1) Once the soil temp reached 75 degrees, usually by March 15 in my area, I spray the entire yard with a pre-emergent herbicide and continue to do this every 6 weeks until the yard goes dormant.
2) Heavily fertilize the yard every 90 days with Scott’s Bonus S. I use this because it has the minor minerals which a healthy yard requires (iron, molybendium, calcium, etc..). Regular 13-13-13 or other fertilizer usually does not have these minerals.
3) When I notice grassburrs growing, but before they put off a seed head, I will spray the entire yard HEAVILY with ‘Image’. The active ingredient here is Imaziquine (sp). Any product designed to kill crab grass should yeild sufficient results. I do not know how this product effects buffalo grass because I have a bermuda grass yard. Be sure to read the label. Image takes a while to work and it must be watered in after application.
4) Sufficient water.
If you have some MSMA this should do the trick better than Image or equivalent. The EPA in thier superior wisdom has banned the use of MSMA because it has detrimental effects on some d*** bug or something foolish like that.
2-4-d application every 90 days doesn’t hurt anything either.
I have followed this regimen for the last 2 years any my grassburrs are all but gone.
At the minimum fertilize and water every 90 days.
Hope this helps.

Q:  How do I get rid of sandburs in my yard?

A: I have received many questions this month about getting rid of weeds but the main problem has been the maturity of these weeds. It is very difficult to kill adult, seed producing weeds in lawns. The time for treating weeds is when the plant is very small, when it is easier to manage. We have very few chemicals in our arsenal that will kill mature, reproductive weeds.

Ideally, we should be taking care of our lawns to reduce the number of weeds. Proper care of lawns means strong healthy, nearly weed free lawns. First, we should fertilize using 15-0-15, Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium, respectively. I know as Americans we feel if 15% Nitrogen is good, then 30% or 50% would be better – not necessarily. Balance in everything, including lawn fertilizers. Fertilization should occur in March, May and September but NEVER in the summer months.

Irrigation is also essential in maintaining a healthy lawn. Water lawns 6-10am about ¾ to 1 inch of water. You will need to measure your sprinkler output. Put out empty cat food or tuna fish cans (10-15) at a zone and run your system. After 20 minutes, stick a ruler in the cans and measure your system’s output. Run your sprinkler system until it reaches the ¾ to 1 inch so you know how long you need to water your lawn. Do not add lime to the yard unless a soil test dictates the need for lime.

Now to get back to the sandbur problem; you could use a product called IMAGE but it must not be used in cold or hot weather and there are several don’ts when using this product so please read and follow label directions. But the best advice I can give you is to get rid of the seed heads (the stickers) on the weeds and apply a pre-emergent herbicide next year to prevent the seeds from germinating.

by kathywarner

Posted: July 16, 2017

Category: Home Landscapes

Tags: sandbur, weed

Prepare NOW to Avoid Lawn Burweed Infestation Later

by Matthew Orwat | Oct 10, 2017

Burweed, Soliva Sessilis. – Image Credit: Joseph M. DiTomaso, University of California – Davis, Creative Commons License

On the top of my list of lawn related annoyances is stepping into a patch of burweed, Soliva sessilis, which is in the sunflower family and is also known as spurweed. The leaves are opposite along the stem and sometimes resemble parsley. The main ways in which burweed can irk the casual gardener are sticking to socks, sneaking in with the dog, or littering flower beds with its nuisance. It can also hide in the house and reappear when shoes are removed. This causes pain in both the foot and the ear.

Lawn burweed has been an especially noticeable problem in lawns. Over the years, extension offices throughout Northwest Florida have been fielding many questions and finding solutions to lawn burweed infestations!

Maintaining a healthy vigorous lawn will prevent weeds from taking over. If your lawn is reasonably healthy and only a few instances of this weed exist, try to mechanically remove them and encourage the lawn to outgrow them.

If an infestation of burweed occurred last year on a specific patch of turf, take note. The best time to apply pre-emergent herbicides to control burweed is in October, when nighttime temperatures drop to between 55-60 degrees F for a few consecutive nights. A widely used pre-emergence product for burweed control is isoxaben, which is sold under the brand name of Gallery as well as others. It prevents the weed from emerging from the ground when it germinates and can be used on St. Augustine, centipede, bahia and zoysia lawns, as well as in ornamental shrub beds. In northwest Florida, this herbicide needs to be applied in October for best results. A second application later in the season might be warranted. For more information about control, please consult this excellent article on lawn burweed management.

Now is the time to control burweed before it gets started. As temperatures cool burweed seed will germinate, as it is a winter annual. In cases where it is already coming up, control with post-emergent herbicide may be warranted.

The active ingredients mentioned above are present in a variety of ‘trade name’ products* available from your local garden center, farm supply or co-op. Be sure to read label instructions carefully and contact your local extension office for any assistance. I hope all the northwest Florida lawn managers prevent burweed this fall so that lawns will be burweed free next spring.

Happy Gardening!

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