Our back yard is full of those little patches of green stickers. They cover more ground than the grass does. I noticed today they are starting to come up in the front yard in spots too now. What are they called and what can I do to get rid of them? Our dogs don't even want to go back there!
By Sis from AL
They are thistle thorns, if they grow tall enough which can reach 3 foot tall a purple cone flower will be at the top which holds the seeds to blow and produce more. Round up will kill them out if you do not want to actually dig each one up and get rid off. Mowing them when they go to seed just spreads for more of them to grow.
Actually, though the flower is attractive, thistle is illegal in many states. You may want to call a yard service for a summer. We didn't have thistle, but we used a lawn service for a summer and were amazed at how much it helped the lawn. I think our cost for our area in southwest Missouri was about $35-40 a month. It became a low priority for us, so we canceled. But that's what I'd do.
Thistles, eh? When I read the problem I immediately thought of sand burrs, a creeping fine-leaved plant with dainty little yellow flowers and vicious thorny seed pods - quite the opposite of a showy, three-foot thistle! But whatever kind of thorny weed you have, you have a choice of remedies, depending on how much time you have and the size of your yard.
Assuming that your yard is grass, which you want to keep, and the problem plant is not a kind of grass, the easiest solution is broadleaf weed killer.
If your yard is completely infested and you have little or no grass, it might be simplest to kill the whole yard - either with general vegetation killer like Round Up, or by smothering it with layers of dirt, manure, newspaper layers, old carpet, whatever it takes to kill it, then start over.
Where you don't have a heavy infestation (yet), you can either spot-spray with weed killer, or, if you don't want to use poison, get out there with the weeder and pull each one of them. (Hacking them off at the ground will probably only cause them to spread. If it's a thick root and you can't get it all, maybe some vinegar or boiling water poured on each root will discourage it.) Or maybe you can find a neighborhood teenager who loves being out in the yard and loves earning money too, who can help you do it.
I spent a couple of summers hand-pulling our sand burrs and got them pretty well licked, but you have to be ever vigilant - don't let a week go by, and especially don't let a summer go by without cleaning them out, or you'll be back where you started.
If what you have is SAND BURRS, then you have a big problem -- Google sand burrs for suggestions from your state agricultural department (or call your cooperative extension service). As far as I know, the only real solution is to dig them up repeatedly or to burn them off (which is pretty extreme.) Be careful not to get them in your feet; you might need to use plyers to grasp them to pull out. Good luck!
Nancy in NC