The Q&A Archives: Grassbur's

Question: We have an area at the back of our yard that is approximately 20 feet by 300 feet that is covered with grassburs. What can we do to prevent them from coming up again next year?

Answer: The key to keeping sand burrs at bay is to cultivate a healthy lawn. Sand burrs are what you would call a "pioneer plant." When soil is disturbed, these hardy plants are among the first to show up and take hold. When soil in established areas starts to lose its fertility and its ability to support other vegetation, sand burrs are only too happy to move in and take over. Because this plant is an annual weed that reproduces by seed, one of the best solutions to controlling it is to apply a pre-emergent product like corn gluten. Corn gluten contains humic acid, which will prevent the germination of annual weeds while it builds up organic nutrients in the soil. Apply this in the spring when the SOIL temperature reaches about 52?F (late March/mid-April) and continue every 6 weeks through September. If you reseed your lawn in the spring, keep in mind that corn gluten will also prevent new grass seed from germinating. When used in combination with some old-fashioned elbow grease (pulling adult plants by hand), in 1 or 2 years you should see a noticeable difference in sand burr numbers. Spot spraying vinegar on young sand burr plants (at the 2-4 leaf stage) is also effective, but it isn't selective. Vinegar will damage anything it comes into contact with, including your healthy turf. Good luck!

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