Sandspurs? Many people around the world won’t have any knowledge of this particular vegetation and may not have cause for concern. But those who live in parts of the world where sandspurs thrive know how irritating and painful this plant can be.
Sandspurs is the common term used to describe a weed that is probably better known as sandbur or cow sandbur. The term “spur” has been used in everyday conversation because this type of plant has small, sharp stickers that can inflict pain on those who walk around barefoot. Some sandbur stickers are long enough and sharp enough to flatten a bicycle tire.
What Should I Do?
If you aren’t sure what sandspurs are, it may be good to do a little extra research about the difference between the “Cenchrus” type of vegetation and the “Tribulus” vegetation. Both have stickers but plants in the genus Cenchrus resemble grass while those in the genus Tribulus lie more flatly along the ground. You can use herbicides to kill some of these plants but it may be necessary to find a different product for each type. Labels should be clearly marked for the type of vegetation.
Experts urge property owners to avoid using strong chemicals whenever possible, especially if pets and small children are around. Certain types of weed killers should not be used in these situations (especially those that contain traces of arsenic). Some homeowners have had success ridding their lawns of sandbur/sandspurs by smothering the vegetation and starting new growth of more desirable grasses. This generally involves covering the entire area with cardboard sheets to kill the sandbur vegetation. In some cases, the troublesome growth doesn’t reappear, especially if the right type of new vegetation is planted.
If covering an entire lawn and replanting isn’t a good option, and if strong herbicides are out of the question, you may be able to reduce or eliminate sandspur growth with organic treatments. Ask your garden-supply expert about “pre-emergent” treatment that is used in the winter and early spring. These treatments often stop new growth. Some of the same, safe organic mixtures are found in retail “weed and feed” products.
Pre-emergent treatments are the safest for all situations, especially when children and pets are present. This type of herbicide doesn’t present the dangers of post-emergent treatments that contain strong plant-killing chemicals.
You may resort to digging up as much of the sandspur growth as you can. This will take care of the problem on a temporary basis. But it’s almost impossible to find and take out every small plant. Leaving two or three will probably lead to a spread of new growth over time.
Here are a few other suggestions that may help you get rid of sandspurs, at least temporarily: borax mixed with water, poured onto the plants; burning areas with strong sandbur infestations, using charcoal lighter; constant attention to lawn maintenance – this is the best way to keep sandspurs from taking over after you have established a nice lawn.