Controlling Sandbur – Turfgrass Science at Purdue University

Controlling Sandbur

The dry summer allowed sandbur to get a competitive edge over the other lawn grasses on the sandy soils in northern Indiana. Most people don’t realize they have sandbur in their lawn until they come into painful contact with it, and unfortunately it is too late to do anything about it then. Sandbur is an annual grassy weed that germinates in the spring, forms the spiny burs during the summer and then dies with the frost in fall. Trying to control sandbur now is not practical. However, irrigating now coupled with fall fertilization should help tremendously to improve the density of the turf thereby helping it to outcompete the sandbur. The standard fall fertilization recommendation is 1.0 lb N/1000 sq. ft. now followed by 1.5 lbs N/1000 sq. ft after the final mowing in November. On sandy soils or lawns that are thin, consider applying 1.0 lb N/1000 sq ft now, October, and November. Be sure to use a nitrogen source with 25-50% slow release N in the September and October applications. To help prevent sandbur next year, maintain turf density by mowing frequently at 3 inches and irrigating deep and infrequently to prevent drought stress. A preemergence containing pendimethalin should also be applied in early-to mid-April to help prevent sandbur.

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