Sand Bur Control | How To Kill Grass Bur Stickers

Why Is Sandbur So Hard To Get Rid Of?

A grassy sand bur sticker head like those found in Carlsbad lawns.
Sand / Grass Bur Stickers

Sand Bur or what a lot of folks just call stickers or grass bur is quite common and widespread throughout Southeast New Mexico and West Texas. Many of the lawns and fields that we treat here in Carlsbad are infested with these troublesome sticker plants to some degree.

Sandbur stickers can be quite a challenge to get rid of once they're established. Growth habits, tolerance to harsh environments, and the approach people take to control them are all contributing factors as to why sand bur is so difficult to kill and keep in control. The following paragraphs should help you get a better understanding of how you can get it under control and keep it there.

Like many other weeds, sand bur is an opportunistic grassy weed. By opportunistic I mean it will take foothold anywhere it can and even in the smallest bare area. A thin unhealthy lawn is the perfect opportunity for a whole yard infestation and it can spread and take over very quickly.

Sandbur will grow in most any soil type. However, it likes infertile, sandy, and alkaline soil and it doesn't need a lot of water to survive. So, sand bur is right at home and set up to thrive in dry desert climates like ours here in Southeast New Mexico and West Texas.

Along with that, sand bur seeds (the stickers) stay viable for up to seven years. This means that, even though it may appear you have the sand bur under control using only herbicides, after the pre-emergent fades, the stickers will be back...and possibly for up to seven years or more.

Relying on herbicides alone is one of the reasons why folks just can't seem to get rid of sand and grass bur stickers in their lawns. Doing this yourself or having a professional weed control service do it, there's a lot more to do than simply spraying the yard every Spring. And you should plan to be in it for a few seasons at least.

Sand bur can be hard to get rid of. However, if you focus on the bigger picture of creating healthy soil and living conditions for a thick healthy lawn, you'll have better success. And a thick healthy lawn and good cultural practices is going to be your best defense against infestation or re-infestation by leaving no room for sandbur to grow.

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Important Steps To Control Sandbur

  • It Takes More Than Just Weed Killer And Pre-Emergent

  • It Has To Be Treated As A Grassy Weed - Not A Broadleaf

  • What Herbicides Will Kill Sand And Grass Bur?

  • It Likes Unhealthy Soil Better Than Healthy Soil

  • Don't Let It Go To Seed (Stickers)

  • Proper Mowing Height For Weed Control

  • Burning The Lawn To Kill Sand Bur Seeds?

Not By Weed Killers Alone

As I said, the idea that you can get rid of sand bur by simply relying on herbicide applications is where a lot of folks end up with a major sticker infestation. To get long term results, you can't just spray the yard and do nothing else.

Weed killers are just one part and actually one of the least parts of an effective weed control program. Most of our residential weed control services in Carlsbad are designed with the overall health of the lawn in mind.

Simply getting rid of the weeds and stickers is only temporary if the lawn is thin and unhealthy. A thick healthy lawn is the best weed control where herbicides are only used for maintenance.

The correct turf type, healthy soil, proper mowing, and the right amount of water and nutrients is a much more long term and even permanent solution to controlling sand bur.

Is Sandbur A Grass Or Weed?

In my definition, a weed is any plant growing where you don't want it to. And since I don't know anyone who wants sand bur in their lawn or anywhere else for that matter, we'll say sand bur is definitely a weed.

Sand bur is a Summer annual and is classified as a grassy weed. So it's generally not affected by most herbicides that control broadleaf weeds. A product must be labeled for grassy weeds and specifically sandbur in order to kill and control it. And since sometimes weed spraying companies use weed killers that only control the most common broadleaf weeds and not grassy weeds, the results are sometimes unsatisfactory.

As well, in the last few years it appears that sand bur has become somewhat resistant to most pre-emergent herbicides that are labeled for it. Results with pre-emergent alone are marginal at best. It would be great if all it took for a sticker free yard is to spray it once or twice a year. However, we ain't gonna get off that easy.

So, yes, sand bur is a weed. A grassy weed. And you must use both a pre and post emergent herbicide that's labeled for it in order to kill and help control it. You can often find OTC products at your home and garden center labeled for crabgrass that are labeled for sandbur as well.

What Weed Killers Kill Sand Bur?

The herbicides discussed here are by no means a recommendation by Horizon Pest Control or any of its employees. At the time of this writing, It's unclear what herbicides we use are available to the general public for controlling sand bur. I do know a few that are though.

So for the do it yourselfers, the mentioned herbicides are Over The Counter chemicals that are available to the general public at home and garden centers. If you can't find them locally, just do a search of the chemical name on Amazon.

If you choose to use these or any other pesticides, it's up to you to follow the label correctly. The label is the law. And as I said, none of this is advice or a recommendation.

For pre-emergent control, one such pre emergent labeled for sandbur is called dithiopyr. It works fairly well against sand bur but is short lived in hot climates. It has to be applied up to three times in a growing season to be effective. It is often in products called Turf Gro, Sta-Green, and others. Check and follow the label.

As for a post emergent that will kill growing sand bur plants, there is a weed killer labeled for sand bur called imazaquin and can be found in products named Image and others. Again, check and follow the label.

Sand Bur Dislikes Fertile Soil

While sand bur will grow in many soil types and climate conditions, it also grows well in nutrient depleted soils. It does especially well in soils deficient in nitrogen. And even appears to do poorly in soils that are high in nitrogen. So fertilizer and proper nutrients is a key element to control.

One of the things that makes our Southwest climate so appealing to sandbur is our infertile, harsh, alkaline soil. Proper soil conditioning and fertilizing for weed and sticker control is necessary to create poor growing conditions for the sand bur as well as help create a thicker lawn. This is a key component. You must keep a steady supply of high nitrogen to help discourage sticker plants.

Don't let it Go To Seed

As I said before, sand bur seeds can stay viable for up to seven years. And even if your lawn is thickened up, you have pre-emergent on the ground, and everything else is perfect, you may still get an occasional survivor. And even one occasional survivor left untreated can lead to hundreds more and a repeat infestation.

When you're trying to control a sandbur infestation, and especially in the beginning, it's important to inspect the lawn regularly. Remove any plants as soon as you see them. If the sand bur has already made sticker seed heads, try and collect as many as you can find and treat the area with pre-emergent if possible.

For our clients who have us doing the herbicide part of their sticker control, we ask that they inform us of any new sand bur plants if they don't wish to address it themselves. We're happy to take care of it as part of our service. This part is so important for good long term results.

Proper Mowing Height For Weed Control

Different grass types have different height requirements for proper growth and maintenance. You should be familiar with your lawn turf type and know the minimum and maximum mowing heights for that type.

For better control of most weeds including grass bur, you should mow at the highest level recommendation. The reason for this is that the taller turf will help shade the ground. The less sunlight to the ground, the less chances of weed seeds germinating.

Should I Burn My Lawn To Kill Sandbur Seeds

You'll find a lot of different opinions and ideas if you do an internet search on the subject of burning off your lawn. The truth of it is, for certain lawn types, sometimes it's necessary and sometimes it's not, and sometimes it's helpful and sometimes it can be harmful.

First, at least here in Southeast New Mexico, don't burn a St. Augustine lawn. It is much more sensitive at the soil and root level than other turf types. Even in dormancy, it's sometimes not completely dormant. So the heat can damage tender parts of the plant and roots that are still growing at or just below the ground surface.

And as for other turf types?

As far as fescue and other cool season grasses, at least for my lawns, I recommend mechanical thatching if necessary and over seeding to thicken up the lawn. Fescue lawns should be over seeded at least once a year anyway as they have an attrition and don't re-populate like other turf types do. You have to keep the lawn thick to choke out the sand bur stickers.

For Bermuda lawns?

A Bermuda lawn is where I'm most likely to burn off for a few different reasons. It's unlikely but still possible to affect the roots that are close to the soil surface. However, around Southeast New Mexico and West Texas, the Bermuda goes completely dormant late in the Winter season, so there's generally not anything growing above ground that can be harmed.

So with this in mind, burning off a Bermuda lawn can not only be helpful to get rid of sand bur seeds, it can also take a lot of work out of mechanical thatching if thatching is necessary. As well, and what would do well for other turf types, is that burning off does also add some nutrients to the soil.

Professional Sand Bur Sticker Control Service

Horizon Pest Control, located in Carlsbad New Mexico, provides all of Southeast New Mexico and West Texas with weed control solutions for all kinds of service types including sandbur sticker control.

Our services also come with our advice and helping you create a program that will get rid of the sand bur. While all lawns are different, most of it is pretty much what we've gone over in this article.

So keep in mind, whether you hire our company, some other weed control company, or do it yourself, all of these steps need to be followed. If you hire Horizon Pest Control out of Carlsbad, you'll either need to work with us or let us do it all in order to get guaranteed results.

If you live in Carlsbad, Artesia, or anywhere in Southeast New Mexico and need help getting rid of sand bur stickers or any other weeds, give Horizon Pest and weed Control Service today at 575-725-9331. Or you can use the contact form if you'd rather.