Getting Rid of Grass Burs

Here in central Texas, grass burs (also called sticker burs or sand spurs) present a huge problem, especially for people living in areas with sandy soil composition, where these pesky annuals tend to thrive. Even worse, the plant can be very difficult to recognize until it has already begun producing burs. Until then, it is easily confused with desirable turf and pasture grasses. That’s why, every summer, we hear from customers interested in ridding their lawns and pastures of these weeds without killing the rest of their grass – and each year, we have to deliver the same bad news:

Once grass burs have emerged, it’s usually too late to do much about them until next year.

That’s because those painful burs that stick to the bottoms of shoes and animal paws in the summer are actually the very seeds that will create next year’s germination. So if you’ve got grass burs now, you’re pretty much guaranteed to have them again next year. Or if you had them last year, you can be assured that they'll come back this season.

There are some limited post-emergent treatments that do work on grass burs without harming desirable grasses. For large pasture treatments, these may offer a viable way to salvage grazing land from an especially bad infestation of grass burs this season. But such treatments aren’t really cost-effective for smaller lawns, and they only address the current season’s growth. Even if you manage to kill the burs that have started growing this season, you’ll still have to do something about the ones that will likely appear next year.


The Solution: Pre-Emergent Treatment

The best way to control grass burs is to eliminate them before they appear – while the seeds are still in the ground. For that, you’ll need a quality pre-emergent herbicide like Balan 2.5%, which will prevent grass burs and other crab grass varieties from emerging during the growing season.

But timing is critical! You don’t want to put a pre-emergent herbicide out too soon, as too much rain can wash it out of the soil, diminishing its effectiveness. Yet you also don’t want to put it out too late, or else the herbicide won’t have sufficient opportunity to go to work before the grass starts growing.

In our experience, many customers wait too long. The best time to act is in late winter, two weeks before the last “killing freeze,” before the ground begins to warm up for spring growth. Here in central Texas, that usually means mid-February to early March. 

Here are a few tips for getting the most effective treatment:

  • Mow the area to be treated, if necessary, and thoroughly rake the area of leaves and grass clippings. This will help expose the soil and remove lingering grass burs that may not yet be in the ground.
  • Apply herbicide according to package instructions. This can be done with a handheld or walk-behind broadcast spreader, but you’ll want to carefully read the package label to determine the appropriate application rate for your particular environment. It’s tempting to over-apply herbicide, and this may harm the environment or damage established, desirable perennial grasses.
  • Water the herbicide into the soil. Like fertilizer granules, the herbicide needs to be watered into the soil in order for it to break down and go to work. Ideally, you would apply your herbicide just before a soaking late winter rain. Otherwise, you’ll need to water the treated area well using sprinklers.
  • Put out a SECOND application of herbicide approximately 90 days later. This is critical. It’s very rare for a single application of herbicide to effectively eliminate all burs, and it only takes a few stragglers to seed out and begin the cycle all over again. The herbicide granules begin losing their effectiveness after a few months, so you want to treat your lawn a second time to make sure new burs that survived the first treatment don’t begin germinating mid-summer. So if you applied your first treatment in late February or early March, you would want to treat again in late May or early June.

Both our store locations stock plenty of Balan 2.5%, and our friendly staff can help you assess all your lawn or pasture needs. Simply call or stop by one of our stores today, and we'll be glad to take care of you!

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