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Ford County

Controlling Grassy Sandbur

Written by Ward Upham, Extension Associate

Grassy sandbur is the "sticker" plant that looks like a grass. It will often invade thin lawns, especially in dry years. Therefore, the best control for this weed is a thick, healthy lawn. However, if your lawn is thin this spring and grassy sandbur was a problem last year, use a preemergence herbicide before the sandbur comes up. However, not all preemergence herbicides are effective. The three products that can help minimize grassy sandbur are oryzalin, pendimethalin and prodiamine.

Oryzalin is sold under the trade names of Surflan and Weed Impede. It can be used on all warm-season grasses as well as tall fescue. It should not be used on cool-season grasses other than tall fescue such as Kentucky bluegrass. Apply oryzalin about April 15 when redbud trees approach full bloom.

Pendimethalin is sold commercially as Pendulum as well as several other names. On the homeowner side, it is sold as Scotts Halts. Pedimethalin is best applied a a split application with the first applied about April 15 and the second about June 1. Alternatively, make the first application when redbud trees approach full bloom and the second six week later.

Prodiamine is sold under the commercial name of Barricade. It is also the active ingredient in a number of homeowner products. It can be used on all of our common lawn grasses. Apply as is done for oryzalin, about April 15 or when redbud trees approach full bloom. Only one application is needed per years.

Non of the "weed preventers" will give complete control but each should help. Quinclorac (Drive) can provide some postemergence control especially if the sandbur is in the seedling stage. Quinclorac is also found in a number of combination products that control both broadleaf weeds and crabgrass such as one following:

  • Ortho Weed-B-Gon Max + Crabgrass Control
  • Bayer All-in-One Lawn Weed and Crabgrass Killer
  • Monterey Crab-E-Rad Plus
  • Fertilome Weed Out with Q
  • Trimec Crabgrass Plus Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Killer
  • Spectracide Weed Stop for Lawns Plus Crabgrass Killer
  • Bonide Weed Beater Plus Crabgrass & Broadleaf Weed Killer

Again, the best control for grassy sandbur is a healthy, thick lawn.

Oryzalin is also sold as a combination product with benefin as Green Light Amaze. As with oryzalin alone, it can be used on all warm-season grasses, as well as tall fescue. It should not be used on cool-season grasses other than tall fescue, such as Kentucky bluegrass. Apply Amaze about April 15 when redbud trees approach full bloom.