By: Scott Eckert, Harvey County Extension Agent, Horticulture
I remember growing up and enjoying being a kid on summer break from school and being outside all of the time. The neighbor kid and I would have “sticker fights”. There was a grass that had stickers on them and at a certain stage can be thrown to stick in the neighbor “just for fun”. Yes, it hurt but we did it anyway. Grassy sandbur is an annual grassy weed that is often found in lawns or other turf areas. It produces a spiny bur and is the “sticker” plant whose bur is often caught in clothing or in pet fur. It will often invade thin lawns, especially in dry years and prefers but is not limited to sandy sites.
The best control for grassy sandbur is a good, thick lawn. Preemergence herbicides can be used on lawns that are not thick enough to prevent an infestation. The product that can help minimize grassy sandbur is pendimethalin.
Pendimethalin is sold commercially as Pendulum as well as several other names. On the homeowner side, it is sold as Scotts Halts. Pendimethalin is best applied as a split application with the first half applied about April 15 and the second about June 1 in the central part of the state but should be applied a couple of weeks earlier in southern Kansas and a week or so later in northern areas. Alternatively, make the first application when redbud trees approach full bloom and the second six weeks later. Pendimethalin can be used on all of our commonly used turfgrasses.
Pendimethalin will not give complete control but should help. Quinclorac (Drive) can provide some postemergence control especially if the sandbur is in the seedling stage. Quinclorac is also found in a number of combination products that control both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass such as one of the following: Ortho Weed-B-Gon Plus Crabgrass Control BioAdvanced All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer. Monterey Crab-E-Rad Plus Fertilome Weed Out with Crabgrass Killer Trimec Crabgrass Plus Lawn Weed Killer Bonide Weed Beater Plus Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Killer Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer.
Again, the best control for grassy sandbur is a healthy, thick lawn.