Spring arrives and our grass is becoming that green carpet on which you love to walk in your bare feet. However, sometimes sticky spurweed plants are competing with your lawn. It is invasive, prickly and painful to your (and your pet's) feet and legs. A little knowledge on how to kill spurweed will help protect your lawn.
Sticky spurweed is a cool season annual that germinates in the fall and winter months in lawn and turf areas. The foliage resembles the parsley leaf in a miniature form. During the winter months, it remains a small, low-growing annual weed where it often goes unnoticed until the plant is fully mature. In the spring when temperatures begin to increase, the lawn spurweed begins undergoing the reproductive stage of growth. The fruiting structures, small rosette buttons, develop in the leaf axils. As the fruit matures, the seed in the fruiting structures develop spines and when the fruit becomes dry, the spines become very sharp. These sharp spines are what make the lawn spurweed so undesirable. As you walk across a turf area barefoot, more than likely you will notice any encounter with this weed, due to the painful spines that penetrate in the skin.
One effective way to help prevent the development of lawn spurweed from a cultural standpoint is to maintain a healthy turf. A healthy turf competes for water, nutrients and space, which can prevent the development of many weedy species. If the lawn spurweed has been established, it is critical to control the lawn spurweed before the fruiting structures develop. Applying a post-emergent herbicide product after the development of the fruiting structures will kill the lawn spurweed, but the seed containing the sharp spines will still be present.
Spurweed can be easily controlled during the winter months. December, January and February are ideal months to apply herbicides for the control. The weed can also be effectively controlled in March in most areas of Arkansas. Pre-emerge herbicides that are effective on controlling spurweed are Aatrex (a restricted use herbicide), simazine (Princep, others) and Sencor Turf. This group of herbicides should not be used on Bermuda grass over seeded with a cool-season turfgrass or on tall fescue, as they are injurious to cool-season turfgrasses.
The best option to control spurweed by homeowners is a post-emergence application of one of the various two and three-way mixes of 2,4-D, dicamba and MCPP. Trimec is one of the most common trade names in this category. These products can be used on tall fescue, fall over seeded Bermuda grass in which the over seeded cool-season grass has been mowed four to five times and nonover seeded Bermuda grass. This group of products should be applied on a warm (air temperatures at least 55 F), sunny day. Two to three weeks after the initial application, spurweed control should be evaluated. If control is not acceptable, an additional application may be necessary.
The reference to brand names in this article is not an endorsement of these products, as the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research & Extension does not endorse specific pesticide brands.
For more information, call Garland County Extension Office, 623-6841, or email Jimmy Driggers, [email protected].
Interested in joining an existing Extension Homemakers Club? For information, call 623-6841 or email [email protected].
If interested in becoming a Master Gardener and would like information, the public is welcome to attend their meetings at 1 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at Lake Valley Community Church; call the Extension office or email [email protected].
There are 4-H clubs for Garland County youths 5 to 19 years old. For information, call the Extension Office or email Linda Bates at [email protected].Society on 10/30/2017