Have you ever walked in your yard barefoot and stepped on something sharp in the grass? The cause of this may be stickers, also known as lawn burrs or burweed. Stickers are annuals that grow in the wintertime and leave behind burrs in the summer, which are painful to walk on and can damage your lawn.
Burrs thrive in the heat and can quickly become a problem if not dealt with accordingly. They latch onto passer-byers and distribute their seeds elsewhere, which can cause them to spread to other areas of your backyard.
In this post, we’ll address how to kill stickers in your backyard if they’ve become a problem or before they become a problem for you and your lawn.
What Type of Weeds Have Stickers?
Stickers are hard, spiky seeds of various burweed species. Most plants that produce stickers sprout in the fall, grow in the winter, and leave behind stickers when they die in the springtime. The stickers then create new burweed in the following fall.
These seeds come from broadleaf weeds and can be eliminated by a lawn-safe broadleaf weed killer.
Typical types of stickers include:
- Sticker weeds
- Bur weeds
- Lawn burrs
- Grass burrs
- Grass stickers
How to Identify Sticker Burr Infestations
Stickers can invade your yard and cause problems. If you have stickers in your yard, you’ll likely want to get rid of them as soon as possible. But you’ll want to assess the situation before you can do that. There are a few telltale signs that you have stickers in your yard and how much of an issue they are.
First, you’ll probably notice the presence of the weeds themselves. They grow in clusters, so if you see a group of weeds that looks different from the rest of your lawn, they could be stickers. Stickers look like tall grass weeds with individual thorny stickers on them, which can break off when something rubs up against them.
Another sign of a sticker infestation is the presence of stickers on your clothing or skin. If you’ve been outside in the yard and come back with stickers on your clothes or skin, you’ll want to figure out where in they’re coming from.
Also Read: Backyard Bug Control
How to Get Rid of Stickers in Your Backyard
Here are steps to get rid of stickers in your yard and prevent them from returning in subsequent years.
Apply Fall Pre-Emergent
First, spread pre-emergent herbicide on your grass. This stops grass burrs from sprouting, which will mean fewer weeds in general. Pre-emergent works by entering the soil and remaining there for up to a few months. The herbicide will kill any seeds that germinate.
You’ll want to apply this herbicide after the ground has fully thawed for it to work correctly. Read your pre-emergent herbicide instructions carefully so you know exactly how to use it.
Spray Herbicide in the Winter
Stickers sprout in the fall, so winter is the perfect time to eliminate them. When the temperature drops, your grass will turn brown and go dormant, but stickers will stay green, making it easy to see them in your yard. By using non-selective herbicides, you’ll be able to kill stickers without harming your dormant grass.
Be sure to avoid spraying green grass with this herbicide, or it will also kill your grass. If your grass is still green, use a broadleaf weed killer spray instead.
Apply Fertilizer and Water Your Grass Daily
Stickers can’t compete with healthy grass. By watering your grass daily and using fertilizer your grass will grow and keep stickers at bay. It’s a good idea to fertilize your lawn every 7 to 14 days after applying herbicide and mowing.
Remember that stickers grow in nutrient-deficient compact soil. By creating a healthy lawn filled with grass using fertilizer and regular watering, stickers can’t thrive and are less likely to pop up.
Mow With a Bag
Mow your lawn using a bag with your lawn mower. You’ll also want to cut your lawn shorter so that you can kill stickers that may be hard to see.
When you mow without a bag, you’ll end up spreading the stickers out, meaning an infestation could get worse. Instead, use a bag to catch the stickers and then dispose of them afterward.
Pick the Stickers Manually
Picking stickers manually is likely the most effective but most time consuming method. You can use your hands, protected by gardening gloves, or rake. Pull the weeds out of the ground and then quickly place them in a bag or burn them so that the seeds don’t spread.
Use White Vinegar
An alternative to herbicides is white vinegar. White vinegar will get rid of stickers without causing damage to your lawn. White vinegar contains acidic elements that act as a poison to the stickers. While you can spray white vinegar daily on stickers, be careful, as it can also harm your lawn.
Use Baking Soda
Another alternative to herbicides is baking soda. The sodium in baking soda dries out stickers, killing them. Use baking soda at least once a week on weeds that contain stickers until they die. Once the sticker is dead, dispose of it properly.
Mix an ounce of vodka with two cups of water and two drops of liquid soap. This will create a solution that will kill stickers fast.
On a sunny day, pour the solution on stickers. The sun will activate the alcohol in the vodka, dehydrating and killing it. Once dead, dispose of the stickers.
Burn the Roots with a Hand Torch
You can use a hand torch to burn the roots of a patch of stickers. Be sure to wet the grass around it first so that the grass is less likely to burn. Use safety glasses and work gloves to protect your eyes and hands. Point the torch at the stickers and burn the plant down to the roots.
Have a hose handy to immediately put out the fire after you’re done burning the plants. This will protect nearby grass and anything dry from catching on fire.
Tips for Avoiding Stickers When You’re in the Yard
Here are a few tips to avoid getting stickers on you when you’re out in the yard.
- Wear long sleeves and pants when you’re outdoors. This will help protect your skin from contact with the weeds that produce stickers.
- Be careful when handling plants that may have stickers on them. Shake off any loose seeds before coming into contact with the plant.
- Keep your yard clean. Remove any weeds that produce stickers from your property. Regularly mow your lawn to keep stickers from taking root.
Stickers can damage your lawn and be painful if stepped on barefooted. They can also latch onto your clothes and pets. For those reasons, it’s best to deal with stickers as soon as possible using the methods talked about in this article. That way, you’ll have a healthy lawn while also keeping your backyard safe from weeds.