Grass Burrs are never fun. They are both attractive and painful. While the plant is often fine, the seeds it gives off are known as Burrs, Sand Burrs, Grass Burrs, Sticker Burrs, Stickers, Pricking Monster, Lawn Stickers, and many other colloquial names.
As these names suggest, these seeds are covered in spikes that can easily stick to people, clothing, pets, and bags. This helps them spread out and find a new place to grow. Unfortunately, these Stickers are also painful and can irritate people and animals. Thankfully, the Burrs aren’t toxic, only irritating.
So how do you get rid of Grass Burrs? To get rid of Grass Burrs, you can use pre-emergent herbicides, white or apple cider vinegar, salt and baking soda, bleach, or Roundup.
How Do I Identify Grass Burrs?
It can be hard to find Sand Burrs or identify if it is in your grass. The best way to tell is to look at the clothing and shoes of people walking through the grass, as well as your pets’ fur. Be especially mindful to check between their toe pads in case one got stuck between their toes.
Usually, the Burrs are brown with purple tips.
As for identifying the plants, they are perennial plants that can survive yearly. Until they start to produce the Burrs, they can look a lot like grass or other weeds, with more of a purple color at the base of the stems.
You can dig up the plant if you are unsure if it is a Grass Burr. Generally, it will have a burr still attached to the seedling.
Why Are There Burrs in My Yard?
Unfortunately, Burrs can be spread relatively easily. Their seeds can attach to people, clothing, bags, and animals and be carried miles away, straight into your yard if you aren’t careful.
Improper mowing methods can also spread them. If you aren’t careful and mow over a burr, you can spread the seeds all over your yard. Instead, ensure your lawn mower is properly bagged to help prevent the spread of the seeds.
These Burrs are very opportunistic, so they can start to reproduce and grow in any soil as long as it is somewhat favorable.
How Do You Kill Grass Burrs Without Killing Grass?
According to research, you may be in luck if you live in a colder climate. While the Burrs are perennials, they still go dormant over the winter. In early spring, you can spray pre-emergent herbicide onto your lawn to kill it.
Unfortunately, this also has the potential to kill the grass. If your grass has matured and is growing and spreading via rhizomes instead of seed, it may be fine or do okay with a pre-emergent herbicide, but there is no guarantee.
The pre-emergent herbicide kills any seeds trying to grow, including Burrs, grass seeds, and even tree seeds, so be careful when using it. Also, be sure you are getting pre-emergent and not post-emergent like Roundup, which will kill every plant instead of just the seeds.
In the meantime, using an old rug and dragging it across your lawn is an excellent way to eliminate any Burrs that have already left their plant and are trying to sprout. The Burrs will cling to the rug, clearing your yard and allowing you to dispose of the seeds easily.
How to Get Rid of Grass Burrs Naturally?
White vinegar is a good way to kill off Grass Burrs and Stickers. You will want to dig up as many Burrs as you can from your yard and spray down the plants as you pull them up. If you want, you can also use the spray to directly spray any plants that may still be in the ground.
However, we wouldn’t recommend doing this if you have other plants nearby that you want to keep alive. White vinegar doesn’t have a preference for plants. The high acidity will kill any plant, including grass and flowering plants. Salt with baking powder, bleach, and hot water all work the same way, which means they will also harm your other plants.
This, unfortunately, limits the amount you can do with more natural methods unless you don’t mind sacrificing your lawn to get rid of the Burrs. Some say that vinegar will only kill the blades of your grass, and the roots will be fine so that they can produce more grass blades shortly after, but we wouldn’t risk it.
The other option is just to keep pulling the Burrs by hand. Inspect your lawn carefully, dig up every Burr you find, and throw away every seed you come across. This may take time, but if you stick to it, you can eventually eradicate the Burr problem.
If you are patient enough and take good care of your grass, you may be able just to wait out your Sand Burrs until your grass chokes it out. Turfgrass has the potential to choke out Sand Burrs as long as you fertilize, mow, irrigate, and cultivate properly.
Will Roundup Kill Sand Burrs?
Roundup will kill Burrs. However, it is non-selective, meaning it will also kill your grass and flowers. So only use it if you don’t mind killing everything else to get to the Sand Burrs. A pre-emergent is still recommended over Roundup, as it will only kill seeds and not every plant already established as Roundup would.
What Is the Best Pre-Emergent for Stickers?
There are a few pre-emergents that you can use to get rid of Stickers. The first is Surflan AS herbicide. We like this one because it has a list of tolerant grasses and lawn types on the back, so you can know for sure if it is safe to use on your lawn or not.
Another one that is highly recommended and used often for golf courses is MSMA. MSMA is designed to get rid of the toughest of weeds while still keeping most grasses alive.
Are Grass Burrs Poisonous?
Grass Burrs are not toxic to humans but can cause allergic reactions, discomfort, and pain. Some people have reported numbness or itching after coming into contact with Burrs, and a soothing oatmeal soak can help if you come into contact with several of them at once.
Also, if the wound isn’t properly taken care of, it can lead to bacterial infections.
Are Grass Burrs Poisonous to Dogs?
Grass Burrs are also not poisonous to dogs. However, they can still cause injury and discomfort, especially if a burr gets stuck in your dog’s toe pads. Even with thick fur, Burrs can pierce the skin and cause injury, infections, and harm to your pet, which is best avoided.
If you know you live near Burrs or have Burrs in your yard, you should carefully check your dog after they are outside every time so that you can remove Burrs immediately before they become a big problem. You can also put booties on your pet, so the Burrs stick to them, not your pet. Some people have found that vegetable oil sprayed on the paws can also help reduce the number of Burrs.
Additionally, while Burrs are not toxic, they can severely injure your pet. If your dog tries to eat a burr to remove the discomfort of it sticking into their skin, they can end up choking, bleeding from the mouth, and having problems eating or swallowing due to a scratched throat.
Burrs are no joke. They can not only ruin your yard, but they can cause pain and discomfort to you, your children, and your pets. Thankfully, Burrs are not toxic to any party, but they can leave everyone angry, irritated, and unwilling to go back outside.
While Burrs are hard to get rid of, it isn’t impossible. You can use natural ingredients like vinegar, salt, and baking soda or more harsh chemicals like Roundup, pre-emergent, and bleach. Keep in mind that many of these methods can also injure your lawn, so be sure to be careful when using them.
The best method for preserving your grass and other plants is to remove the Burrs by hand, though this method is time consuming. It’s important to dispose of the Burrs right away if removing or mowing them, as their seeds can spread very quickly and easily.