Let’s set a scene: you’re walking barefoot in your yard when, suddenly, you step on something that makes you yelp. You sit down in the grass only to feel the same poking sensation in your hands. What is the source of this mysterious hurt? Bur weed, of course.
Burweed can prove to be quite a nuisance, especially for those with pets and children. Not only do bur weeds hurt to touch, but they can get stuck in hair and clothes easily. There are a few different ways to get rid of Bur weed plants and stickers, but it’s worth noting that once the stickers form, it’s difficult to permanently remove them.
In this article, we’ll go into detail about what stickers are, the various species you may find in your yard, and how to get rid of them when they pop up. We’ll also give you some helpful tips about using herbicides and leave you with a better knowledge of burweed stickers and how to spot them.
What Are Stickers?
Sticker weeds, commonly referred to as “stickers,” are a winter weed that grows annually and low to the ground. The leaves of a sticker weed are considered sparsely hairy and divided twice into separate narrow segments or lobes. The flowers are small and difficult to see and the fruit of the plant can be found in the leaf axils.
The fruit of sticker weeds have sharp spines that cause injury when touched. The prickly spines also allow the fruit to easily stick to clothing and hair, hence the name “sticker weed.” The name “sticker weed” actually refers to a few different species of plants that produce prickly stickers.
Sticker Weed Plant Species
There are various species of sticker weeds that cause issues amongst homeowners. Although each species grows differently, they all have one main thing in common: they produce prickly fruit that sticks to clothing and hair and is a nuisance to try and remove.
Burweed, also commonly referred to as grass or lawn burrs, are among the most common types of sticker weeds you’ll come across in your yard. These will blend in pretty easily with your yard and may not have visible flowers on them. It’s entirely possible that you wouldn’t even be able to see them unless you got close.
Some burr plants, like the burr clover plant, looks just like burweed. However, you should be able to spot the difference by a distinct little yellow flower and clover-like leaves. Similar to burweed and other burr plants, plant species in the bindii family also have spiny stickers. These plants include yellow vine, goathead, and puncturevine.
How to Get Rid of Stickers in Your Yard
While the emergence of stickers can be tricky to fully eliminate, there are steps you can take to get rid of them. Whether you choose to use an herbicide or a more “natural” alternative, there’s a method for everyone. Some methods, like herbicides, require extra precautions to ensure your own safety. Let’s take a look at five of the best ways to get rid of burweed stickers.
1. Pre-Emergent Herbicides
The use of pre-emergent herbicides is effective in battling weeds before they sprout. With that said, the herbicide can only be successful if done correctly. To use a pre-emergent herbicide, you need to know when the sticker weed species tends to sprout. Because most burweed plants are cool weather sprouts, it’s important to treat your lawn before they’re set to emerge. A good time to do this is towards the end of the warm season, usually in late summer or early fall.
2. Manually Rake or Pick Them Up
If you’re too late to treat with a pre-emergent herbicide, you can manually rake or pick up the burrs as you see them. When doing this, it’s important to make sure you’re using protective gloves as the stickers will hurt to the touch without them. This method should also be paired with another elimination method as it’s easy to accidentally overlook some burweed plants.
3. Use White Vinegar
White vinegar is a common alternative to chemical herbicides. Once a sticker has sprouted, you can treat the area with white vinegar. The vinegar will work to fade away and kill the weed but it will also harm the grass surrounding the affected area. If you use this, be sure to spray as close to the weed as possible and try not to get it on unaffected areas. You can also dilute the mixture to make it less potent.
4. Post-Emergent Herbicides
Post-emergent herbicides are essentially the opposite of their pre-emergent counterparts. Rather than preventing weeds from growing in the first place, post-emergent herbicides will work to kill weeds that have already grown. While treating weeds with a post-emergent herbicide, take special care to only treat the affected area. Failure to use caution can cause you to kill off your grass right along with the weeds.
5. Mow the Lawn on a Short Setting and Bag Your Grass
Because burr plants grow close to the ground, you can also eliminate them by mowing your lawn on a close-cut setting. Be sure to also bag your grass so you can keep all of the burr stickers contained. Although using a short setting on your mower can eliminate the actual stickers, you should also use some sort of treatment on your lawn to kill off any roots the weeds left behind.
Herbicide Usage Tips
Because most commercial herbicides use a mixture of chemicals, it’s important you closely follow safety directions and usage instructions. Doing so will ensure you don’t accidentally ingest harmful chemicals or hurt yourself in another way during use. Let’s go over three important safety tips to consider.
1. Wear Protective Gear
There’s a reason professionals have to wear specific equipment when they deal with chemicals and other potentially dangerous substances. When using an herbicide, you’re coming into close contact with a mixture of chemicals that can cause harm if ingested or splashed on the skin. When using herbicides on your lawn, make sure you wear long sleeves, pants, goggles, gloves, and anything else that can protect you from the substances.
2. Close Off the Lawn for 24-48 Hours
After spraying the herbicide, it’s imperative to section off your lawn for 1-2 days afterward. This gives the herbicide time to do work undisturbed and it prevents humans and domesticated animals from possibly coming into contact with the chemicals used. This is why you’ll commonly see yellow tape, flags, or some other marker around someone else’s yard after they’ve sprayed their lawn.
Walking through your lawn while the herbicide is still fresh can cause you to develop a breathing issue or other health problem.
3. Read the Product Label
With any herbicide, you should always read and become familiar with the product label. This label will list all ingredients used in the chemical mixture as well as any safety warnings the user should be aware of. In most cases, there will also be specific instructions printed on the label for how to use the product safety and effectively.
Burweed Sticker FAQs
How Does a Lawn Get Stickers?
A lawn gets stickers from an annual plant called burweed, burr plant, and a variety of other names. Just like with any other weed, burr stickers grow when burr plants spread from lawn to lawn. Lawn stickers can also crop up if you mow your lawn on a short setting and forget to add a bag to bag up your grass clippings.
Do Sticker Weeds Hurt?
Although sticker weeds fruits are small, they can be quite painful when they make contact with your skin. Beyond that, the way each spine is situated allows them to easily stick to clothing and hair. Once they latch onto one of these two mediums, it’s tricky to get them off.
How Quickly Can Sticker Weeds Spread?
Sticker weeds spread rather quickly, in a similar way dandelions do. When a burr gets stuck to your hair or clothing, or on the coat of a wild or domesticated animal, that burr fruit then travels to other places outdoors where it’s then dropped in a new spot. Although burr fruit is larger than a single dandelion fluff, it pollinates in a similar way.
Where are Sticker Weeds Common?
Sticker weeds are most common anywhere that has an open lawn area and moisture. Because sticker weed refers to multiple species, the type of plant varies in terms of commonality in one location. In general, bindii plants are more commonly found in the dry, hot areas like Arizona. Burr plants, on the other hand, suffice better where they have space to spread and grow that also offers moisture.
Burweeds and other sticker plants are a common nuisance among homeowners across the country. Not only do they hurt, but they’re a pain to remove from clothing and hair too. As annoying and stressful they can make you, the elimination tips we’ve included here will help ensure you rid your yard of sticker grass.
Jamie is the founder of The Backyard Pros. When he was 15 years old he started working at a garden centre helping people buy plants, gardening products, and lawn care products. He has real estate experience and he is a home owner. Jamie loves backyard projects, refinishing furniture, and enjoys sharing his knowledge online.