The Purdue Plant and Pest Diagnostic Laboratory

Sandbur Control in Lawns

The following questions were sent to the P&PDL diagnosticians here at Purdue University:

Question 1: I have sandbur in my yard. We keep it mowed so it just spreads out in a spider web carpet. Is there anything that can kill it now? I am weeding it out right now but we do have alot. Will it produce burrs if it is kept mowed low? I don't remember having any burrs develop last year but I do not remember having this many plants either.

Is there something that I should do in the spring or fall to keep this from spreading or is the weeding the only option now? Any help would be appreciated. I do have sandy soil and acidic soil from the many pine treees in the area.

Question 2: We live in Marshall County, Indiana, and we have a problem with sandburs, they are crowding out our grass. We applied a weed and feed chemical application but that did not help. Could you advise what type of chemical would kill them and where it can be purchased?

Answer: Sandbur is a weed common in northern Indiana on very sandy soils. Most people don't realize they have sandbur in their lawn until they step on one with a bare foot or children fall on one when playing. Sandbur is a annual grassy weed that germinates in the spring, forms the spiny burs during the summer, and then dies with the frost in fall. If you had sandbur in your lawn last year, you will probably have it again this year. Proper mowing, fertilization, and irrigation to create a dense lawn will help to control sandbur.

It's probably not worth applying any more this year because it will die with the first frost. Be sure to fertilize this fall at least twice to help your grass spread and crowd out the sandbur. Apply 1.0 lb N/1000 sq ft in mid September and the 1.5 lbs N/1000 sq ft in early November. This should help tremendously but an application of a preemergence herbicide next spring will also help.

The following are a few short paragraphs on sandbur. More information on lawn maintenance is available at Purdue's extension publication homepage: http://www.agcom.purdue.edu/AgCom/Pubs/menu.htm (Look under Agronomy and the "AY" Publications)

Controlling Sandbur

Sandbur is a weed common in northern Indiana on very sandy soils. Most people don't realize they have sandbur in their lawn until they step on one with bare feet or children fall on one when playing. Sandbur is a annual grassy weed that germinates in the spring, forms the spiny burs during the summer and then dies with the frost in fall. If you had sandbur in your lawn last year, you will probably have it again this year. Proper mowing, fertilization, and irrigation to create a dense lawn will help to control sandbur. A number of preemergence annual grass herbicides are labeled for control of sandbur. Preemergence herbicides applied in spring to prevent crabgrass should also prevent sandbur.

--Zac Reicher, Assistant Professor/Turfgrass Extension Specialist


Information listed is valid only for the state of Indiana.

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