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How to control sandspurs, burweed

By Blake Carter

UGA Extension agent

Hello, Effingham County!

As we get out into our yards and lawns this summer, there is a good chance you will encounter a certain weed. That is why I wanted to quickly talk about a thorn in many of our sides, well more like our feet — the dreaded sand spur and/or the burweed.

First, be certain of what you have. Sandspurs are grassy weeds that form clusters of spiny seeds at the end of a long stem. They are a problem in the summer and early fall.

Another prickly weed is lawn burweed. It forms low-growing mats with hard-to-see burs along the branch.

Lawn burweed is a problem in the spring. It is a winter weed that can germinate in the winter and become a real problem as the spiny seeds mature in the spring.

Sandspurs are difficult to control once they begin to grow. Prevent them by spraying your lawn around mid-February and again 45 days later (around April 1).

Use Surflan (oryzalin) or Prowl or Pre-M (pendamethalin). You must spray these herbicides early. Once the weeds emerge, these chemicals will not stop the sandspurs.

After sandspurs begin to grow, you can kill them in centipede lawns with Vantage or Poast (sethoxydim). Do not use sethoxydim on other turf grasses.

In Bermuda or zoysia lawns, kill sand spurs with multiple applications of MSMA. Read and follow all label directions. Temperature will affect how the MSMA works. MSMA can brown turf sometimes.

For the lawn burweeds, wait until next fall and prevent them with two applications of atrazine. Use atrazine around mid-October and again 45 days later. Sound familiar? 

The reason we use preventive herbicides twice is that they are effective for about 45 days. The second application prevents the later emerging weeds. You can spray lawn burweed with atrazine or Weed Be Gon (or equivalent herbicides) now, but the burs are already formed. Spraying now will do little to control the weed in the future. Spraying atrazine or Weed Be Gon several times from December through February may help to reduce this weed next year.

While the time to really prevent the weeds has passed, you can still take steps mentioned above to control them, and work towards prevention for next year!

If you have any questions, suggestions, or want further information, please give me a call at or stop by the Effingham County Extension Office, (912)754-8040, 501 N. Richland Avenue, Rincon GA, 31326.

Joke of the Day: What did the alien spurweed say to the earthling spurweed? Take me to your weeder!