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Freshly mowed lawn.

AUBURN UNIVERSITY, Ala. – Imagine walking barefoot through a yard on a warm spring day then suddenly the nice afternoon is interrupted by a painful prick. Lawn burweed is often the culprit.

Lawn Burweed

The drought that plagued Alabama this past summer all but ensures that burweed is something to be on the lookout for this season. This low-growing plant hides out in many lawns until it makes its presence known with a painful prick.

“Lawn burweed is a winter annual that germinates throughout thin turf in the fall months after temperatures cool,” said Bethany O’Rear, an Alabama Extension home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent.

Though the pest is small and hardly noticeable in the winter, it initiates a period of rapid growth in the early spring as temperatures being to get warmer. During this time, the plant begins to form spine-tipped burs containing the seed at the base of each leaf.


To prevent massive growth, there are some control methods homeowners can do to keep burweed out of their lawn.

According to O’Rear, between November and February is the best time of year to apply a post-emergent product to control burweed in lawns. Applications made during this time period will help control this pest to a certain degree. Treating burweed with post-emergent herbicide early is the key to successfully diminishing it.

“Because lawn burweed is a winter annual, it will begin to succumb to the warmer temperatures,” she said. “However, the spines will have already formed and will remain after the weed withers and dies.”

Homeowners can mow areas with these lawn burweed spines at a low height and bag the seeds. This is sure to offer some relief to a lawn.

O’Rear said once the weed has reached a more mature state, it will likely require multiple herbicide applications. Multiple applications increases the potential for turf grass injury.

Some severe situations of lawn damage from herbicides may call for killing the entire area, including turf grass. Non-selective herbicides, such as glyphosate, can do the trick. Replanting grass or laying new sod after application of herbicide might be a hassle, but it will ensure that the yard will no longer be plagued by burweed.

More Information

For more information on controlling lawn burweed, visit www.aces.edu or contact the home grounds, gardens and home pests regional agent in your area.

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