Stickers are one of the most annoying and damaging things to happen to your yard. If you have a yard with a lawn, it’s important you know how to eliminate them from the area. Sticker burrs can quickly take over an area, especially in dry and sandy soil.
If you don’t get rid of these stickers, they can make their way into your house and stick to pets or your clothes. Here are some of the best methods to get rid of stickers in your yard.
What are Stickers?
They are another term for burrweed or spurweed. These prickly annoyances are a type of trifoliate weed that can quickly spread through your yard if not controlled. You will recognize stickers for having green serrated leaves and reddish-purple stems that creep closely to the ground. Sometimes they have small yellow flowers, which will turn into little green pods. These pods dry up and turn spread, it’s these seeds that cause the problems. Burr medic germinates in the fall and winter seasons, yet will flower in the summer months.
These low-growing weeds are distant relatives of sunflowers, with leaves that look more like carrot foliage. The reason they are so irritating is that the button-like clusters of spurred seeds stick in the feet. They can be painful if you walk on them barefoot, and especially bad for pets.
Some of the key characteristics of stickers are:
- Sparsely hairy leaves that are divided into different narrow segments.
- Spine-tipped burs placed on the area between the leaf and stem.
- Small, inconspicuous flowers that are often yellow in color.
- A diameter of up to 6 inches and a height of around 3 to 4 inches.
Types of Stickers
Identifying the types of sticker you are dealing with dictates how you are going to get rid of it. Here are some of the different stickers you are dealing with.
How to Get Rid of Stickers From Your Yard
Your first instinct may be to reach for a chemical-based weed killer. This isn’t the safest solution if you have children or pets. Let us take you throw the best way to remove these perky stickers and tips on how to make sure they stay gone!
1. Manual Picking
There is only one truly effective way of getting rid of stickers in the yard, once you have identified them, and that is manually. You can either do this using our hands or by with a rake. This is time consuming and generally a gross activity. This is why we recommend preventing the stickers from every spreading, so you don’t need to manually get rid of them.
Always wear gardening gloves when disposing of stickers to protect your hands. You need to grasp the weed at the plant base and pull it out. Quickly discard the weeds in the garbage or burn it to ensure the seeds don’t spread.
Did you know: The best time to pull out weeds is a day or two after rainfall. The soil will be too heavy when wet, yet crumbly when dry, so this is a good medium of the two.
2. Mowing the Lawn
If you have stickers, make sure to mow the lawn as show as you possibly can. It’s vital that you mow the lawn with the mag attacked to your mower. This is to prevent the spread of sticker grass seeds to all four corners of your yard.
In the first few weeks after you spot stickers, you should mow your lawn two or three times a week. Keep up with the mowing during the first weeks of spring, when stickers are at their most invasive.
3. Create a Hostile Environment
Stickers naturally do not like competition, especially the type of competition that comes when inhabiting a luxurious and healthy lawn. A healthy watered lawn is strongly disliked by stickers as it finds too much competition, which stifles it. They don’t like to be fertilized either, so by fertilizing well it will discourage the weeds.
Aerate the soil of your yard and use competing plants. Create perforations in the soil so more water, air and nutrients can enter it with ease. This will favor the growth of competitors and limit weed resources.
4. Plant Weevils
There are two different types of biocontrol organisms known as puncture vine weevils, which are renowned for eating stickers. They are part of the Microlarinus lareynii family, which eats the stickers seeds and the Microlarinus lypriformis eats the stem, branches, and crowns.
The adult weevil (Microlarinus lareynii) eats burr seeds and lays an egg within it. This egg hatches and the larva feeds on the seed, destroying it. The Microlarinus lypriformis will lay its eggs on the branches, stems and crown, destroying it. We recommend using both weevils at the same time to kill the weeds effectively. Please note that weevils don’t cope well in cold, winter conditions.
5. Use White Vinegar
White vinegar is a fantastic alternative to herbicides as it helps to get rid of grass bur without causing the damage. White vinegar is naturally filled with acidic elements that poisons the stickers. Spray it directly on stickers on a daily basis to destroy but be careful as white vinegar can be harmful to your lawn. The dead plant should always be completely removed to stop seeds spreading and the plant regrowing.
Top Tip: Add orange oil to vinegar, about 2 ounces to every gallon, to boost its effectiveness even more!
6. Use Baking Soda
Another effective alternative to chemicals is baking soda, plus it’s something most of us have in the house! The sodium in the baking soda naturally draws moisture out the sticker burr and dries it out. Apply the baking soda to the base of plant at least once a week until it dies. You can also sprinkle salt on the base and across the leaves, adding an even stronger dose of sodium to the pest. The dead sticker should be removed and disposed of.
7. Pour Vodka on It
Miz an ounce of vodka with 2 cups of water and two drops of liquid soap (or washing up liquid) to create a sticker killing mixture. Pour this mixture onto the leaves of the plant when the sun is high. This won’t work on rainy, gray days. When the sunlight hits the vodka, the alcohol breaks down the waxy leaf covering, dehydrating the weed. When the plant is dead, pull it out and remove it.
8. The Fire Method
Although it’s an incredibly drastic method, burning the entire plant can get rid of it. You will probably need to burn the plant every year for up to seven years before you can be sure that it won’t grow back. Be very cautious while doing this, as you can cause damage to the surrounding yard and plants. Before burning the stickers, water the surrounding area and keep a water hose to hand as a safety precaution.
Top Tip: Check with your local fire department for to fully understand regulations before stating this sticker removal method. Some areas will require you to get a burn permit, so it’s important to check first.
9. Apply Boron
Boron is naturally a plant micronutrient that is important for healthy growth. If it’s used in excessive quantities, it can become lethal. Scatter borax powder at the base of the plant, which is naturally boron high. This method should be repeated every day until the plant is dead. Once the weed is dead, pull it from the ground and get rid of it, otherwise, seeds may scatter.
10. Chemical Control
Although many of us don’t want to use chemicals, but ultimately it is the best way to control stickers on lawns. The best way of controlling pesky plants it is to apply a preemergence herbicide in late September to early October. Use products that contain isoxaben and atrazine, as it will kill the stickers as it sprouts so it doesn’t make an appearance in spring. These ingredients come in either liquid or granular form, if you opt for granular you will need half an inch of rainfall or irrigation for it to become activated.
If you have any weeds that escape this preemergence attack, you can spot sprays the leftovers with a postemergence herbicide. This should be done between November and February when stickers are smaller and more controllable. In the winter months, those spine-tipped burs haven’t developed yet. One application of a preemergence herbicide in spring or fall is good, but two will greatly reduce the stickers in your yard.
Use postemergence herbicides which contain the three active ingredients broadleaf weed killers: dicamba, 2,4-D and mecoprop (MCPP). This trio is ingredients are commonly found off the shelf broadleaf herbicides. Remember these herbicides are not fully effective unless applied when the air temperature is about 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you have not noticed stickers in your yard until the spring or summer months, it is more difficult. This is because the weed has matured, so you will need multiple applications of herbicide to get rid of the stickers which can cause a turfgrass injury. Because burweed appears annually in winter, it will naturally succumb to air temperatures warmer than 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The problem is that the spines have already appeared and will stick around long after the weed has withered and died. It’s the spine that causes injuries and ruins your yard.
Top Tip: Do not reseed within 60 days of applying the herbicide and do not apply to newly seeded lawns until the area has been mowed at least three times.
Even after using herbicides, you will need to mow the area at a very low height and bag the leftover seeds. In some situations where your yard has been seriously invaded, you may have to kill everything. We advise to do this will a non-selective herbicide like glyphosate. You will have replant new grass or lay new sod afterwards, but you can be confident that the stickers are gone!
Top Tip: Once stickers have been eliminated, you’ll want to improve the health of your soil to stop it coming back by using an organic matter or compost.
Where do stickers come from?
Stickers come from burweed, which germinates during the early falls before dying in the spring. As the burweed starts to die, the seeds become stickers.
Are herbicides always effective against stickers in the yard?
No, they aren’t always 100% effective, every time. You need to time it right and heavy rains will wash the product away. Most people use a mix of pre and postemergence products to ensure those nasty weeds will not break through the preemergence.
When is the best time to get rid of stickers?
The timing of killing stickers is vital. Realistically, if you have noticed the stickers, then it’s too late to get rid of them. These burrs will germinate in the fall and then grow in the winter or spring period. The plant matures in late spring and early summer, and then the seed pods harden and drop to the ground. If you kill these nuisances in spring, you will be left with sticky speed pod that can still cause damage.
Are sticker burrs poisonous?
The spiny burrs are non-toxic but can cause traumatic injury to pets. The little spines can get stuck in paws and hooves, as well as being painful for humans. Burrs must always be removed, if they stay embedded, they may cause an infection. The spiny seed pods can be eaten by animals and are often added into feeds and hay.
Top Tip: If your dog eats the burrs, they will throw it up. Call a vet if you are worried but the spines will do damage than annoying your pet. Bread oaked in olive oil will push the burr down more comfortably.
Dead or alive, stickers pose a painful problem to your yard. The only real way to get rid of them is to identify the weed early and control it before it becomes an issue. The biggest issue is that burweed is a yearly occurrence and will come back from seeds that develop every spring. If you follow the above tips, you will better understand what stickers are, and how to get rid of them efficiently and safely.