Lawn Sandbur Stickers: The Best Way to Deal with Sandburs

Brendon Willis
Sandbur stickers

This article is the second in a two-part series on how to get rid of sandburs in your lawn. In part one we showed what sandbur control methods to avoid. Here I’ll now share the ultimate way to deal with sandburs, that’s both effective and sustainable.

The Ideal Solution

If you read our previous post dispelling home remedies for sandburs then you know why sandburs are so tough and that none of the home remedies are any good. So what can we actually do to get rid of stickers, permanently?

There’s actually more than one answer!

Getting rid of sandbur stickers, and keeping stickers from returning, require two different approaches, but the efforts of each work together for even better results. In short, the ideal solution for how to get rid of sandburs consists of two steps: Attack then Suppress.

Let me explain.

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Attack Then Suppress

The best defense is a strong offense. So hitting the weeds hard in a way that will make a drastic impact is your first step. That’s the attack, and we do it with herbicide control because it stops the stickers in their tracks and helps prevent their return. Once we’ve reduced the sandbur population, we can start to bleed away the things the weeds need to recover. That’s the suppression.

  • ATTACK – This part of the process is fast and, admittedly, expensive, at least in comparison to suppression. It’s a much lower commitment of time and effort and the results are quick, even if they’re short-lived without suppression.
  • SUPPRESS – This is the less expensive, long game, strategy to make sure stickers don’t return. Suppression is a higher commitment because it requires your ongoing work or investment.

Obviously, we recommend both the attack and the suppression. One without the other isn’t a long term solution. Suppressing without attacking will be a long, slow, arduous process of waiting for every sandbur in your yard to die out… eventually. Attacking without suppression will result in less sandburs right away, but they’ll always return, sometimes even worse.

Step 1 : ATTACK – Herbicide Control of Sandburs and Stickers

We start with herbicides because they have predictable, consistent, and uniform control over their targeted plants. Using the right herbicide, we scientifically target problematic weeds and chemically rob them of their essential nutrients, leaving them unable to grow.

Sandburs are annual weeds, so we have to use a herbicide that targets annuals specifically. Annual weeds are those that come up from a seed each spring, as opposed to your Bermuda grass that goes dormant in fall then revives for spring. When an annual weed dies, that plant is gone forever… but its seeds remain in the soil, ready for the following spring.

So, for example, during January when it’s 30°, your lawn has precisely zero living sticker weeds. However, at the same time, you have millions of active sticker seeds in your lawn’s soil just waiting for that warm spring day to put down roots, send up shoots, and start making your life difficult.

But even knowing this, there are still different types of herbicides whose use comes down to weighing the cost of the treatment with how quickly you want your lawn to improve. They include:

  • Pre-emergent herbicides for stickers
  • Post-emergent herbicides for stickers

Pre-Emergent Herbicides

A pre-emergent herbicide for stickers covers the lawn in a chemical blanket that will kill a seed as soon as its roots touch the soil. Because pre-emergents are applied uniformly with professional tools, it’s a great way to get even coverage and control of your entire lawn.

Pre-emergents are not perfect and no single pre-emergent can target all types of weeds, so choosing the right products is crucial. Even when you do everything right, it can still take a few seasons to see complete control. But a few solid pre-emergent applications in your first year will do more to slow your sandbur problem than all of the home remedies we pointed out in that last sandbur post, combined.

Post-Emergent Herbicides

If the pre-emergent stops a seed from putting down roots, then what do we do in August when the stickers are still growing like crazy? This is where weighing speed and cost truly comes into play.

If you started a pre-emergent application plan early in the year, you should be well on your way to drastically reducing the number of stickers in your yard. But if you have some stickers that survived the pre-emergent, or if you’re just starting treatments in the middle of summer, you probably want them dead now. That’s where post-emergent herbicides for stickers come in.

Just like pre-emergents, some post-emergent herbicides are better than others. Some simply will not be effective on sandburs, so it’s important to select the right product for the job. Even more important and complex than that, you have to correctly mix and apply the herbicides as well.

Post-emergent herbicides for weeds like stickers can be a bit more expensive than pre-emergents. Plus, the timing can have an impact on your decision. Most stickers are in full bloom in mid to late summer, which is also the ideal time to use post-emergent. You’ll have to ask yourself if the investment is worthwhile or if getting an earlier start with pre-emergents the following year is the wiser choice.

Don’t feel like you must apply a post-emergent. But if you want to spend the extra money, any suppression you do, including post-emergent, will help speed up the eradication of your sandbur problem.

Why Not Only Use Herbicide Control for Stickers?

While it’s technically true that you can completely control sanbur stickers with herbicides, it’s not ideal for people who are trying to establish a lawn they can enjoy. Herbicides are where all control beings, but you should ideally transition to a more sustainable approach utilizing lawn management that creates an unfavorable environment for sandburs.

Step 2: SUPPRESS – Create Unfriendly Environment for Sandburs

In the previous post, I explained that the conditions sandburs thrive in are also the conditions most favorable to your lawn. So how can we make sandburs less comfortable while still preserving the right environment for your lawn? Suppression.

Sandburs don’t like competition, so if we can increase the vitality of the lawn’s turf grass, it will do wonders for reducing reliance on herbicidal control. In other words, making your grass stronger will choke out sandburs and generally make it easier for you have a nicer, sticker-free lawn.

So, what can we do to make the lawn uncomfortable for sandburs while our grass keeps thriving?

  • Thicken up your turf with fertilizer. Fertilizing is vitally important. You must either develop a DIY plan or hire a company to fertilize your lawn for you. We believe this is so important that Willis won’t just treat for weeds. All of our programs also include fertilization.

Giving your lawn the proper nutrients is essential to rejuvenating your grass and giving it the strength it needs to compete successfully with sandburs. Remember, sandburs thrive in low-nutrient soil. If you’re having a problem with them, then I can almost guarantee that your lawn is low in nutrients.

  • Water your lawn. Consistent watering works alongside fertilizer to thicken up your turf. If you work to get the weeds out of your lawn, but then let it dry up and thin out in late summer heat, you’re opening the door for sandburs to return in force.
  • Mow consistently. Though mowing doesn’t prevent sandburs, keeping the grass short will help keep it thick and healthy. The thicker and healthier it is, the more your grass is capable of choking out the sandburs on its own.

Products to Use on Sandburs

If you’re taking a DIY approach to getting rid of stickers, Willis generally recommends the following products for controlling sandburs in Bermuda grass:



Applying These Products

It is critical to apply the products I listed above correctly, and according to the manufacturer’s instruction. These herbicides are like medicine for your yard, and you always listen to your doctor to make sure you take your medicine as prescribed. There are quite a few variables that impact how often you use herbicides, how much water you should incorporate, the best times to apply them, and more, so read and apply carefully!

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Maintain Realistic Expectations with Sandburs

Look, we all want the sandburs in our yard to vanish immediately, but the sad truth is that’s not how it happens. However, with a sincere effort, and diligently sticking to your plan, you should be nearly sticker-free after two years. That means two years of treating with pre-emergents and post-emergents, two years of fertilizing your lawn regularly, two years of regular plentiful watering, and two years of mowing weekly all summer without giving up!

So while it will take an investment of time, and probably money, if you truly put in the work, you can achieve a beautiful, sticker-free lawn. But if reading this post has left you feeling overwhelmed by herbicide and fertilizer application, please schedule a conversation with one of our knowledgeable and friendly technicians. We’ll put together a plan that will get you that lush, green, and sticker-free grass you desire.

If you’re not quite ready to work with us, I still encourage you to join our Lawn Help Facebook Group. It’s entirely free to join. This group is for anyone who needs help with their lawn, whether they’re already our customers or not. Our professionals often answer questions in the group, so you’ll get a taste of the personalized care you’ll receive when you are ready to be a customer.

Remember, Willis Lawn Service promises a better lawn or your money back!

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