Size: 4 inches tall, several feet wide
Type: Grassy annual
Type: Broadleaf perennial
Control: To prevent this weed, mulch garden beds in spring. Pull plants by hand or apply a postemergence herbicide once it grows.
Fortunately, Lawn Burweed is relatively easy to control chemically if one pays close attention to seasonal changes and uses herbicides (either pre-emergent or post-emergent herbicides) effectively.
Most lawn weeds are annoying, appearing in unwanted places and numbers, but few actually cause physical harm like the pest plant Lawn Burweed (Soliva sessilis)! This infamous small, spreading winter weed’s seeds generally germinate when temperatures begin to cool in the fall (late October-November). Burweed then grows mostly unnoticed through the winter until spring, when it then produces the hard, spiny burs that contain the plant’s seeds and the plants finally die. Once the burs have formed, Burweed’s presence makes walking on newly greened-up spring turf extremely painful for pets and people (barefoot of course, the burs aren’t large enough to puncture shoe soles). At this point of the plant’s life, once it has made its unwanted presence known, control is not feasible as the Burweed plants have set seed, ensuring a new crop next year, and killing the remaining foliage doesn’t remove the burs. What is a homeowner to do?
Newly germinated Lawn Burweed. Photo courtesy of the author.
Lawn Burweed around 10 days after emergence. Photo courtesy of author.