If you live in Florida or coastal states with sandy soils, you’re bound to step on sandspurs at some point in your life. Growing up near the beach in North Carolina, these are quite common to see in areas that are obviously sandy, but can be pretty difficult to spot when in grass.
In this blog post, I’ll break down how to remove sandspurs from your yard or home, what sandspurs are, and tips for preventing them in the first place.
What is a sandspur?
Sandspurs are nothing more than an annual grassy-like weed, whose prickly seedpods tend to emerge at the end of summer. These are commonly found in hot, sandy coastal areas prominent in the southeastern United States like Florida.
Sandspurs vs sandburs
While many confuse the two, these grasses are members of the Cenchrus family. Sandburs, (derived from burgrass) or Cenchrus echinatus are commonly called southern sandburs, and grow inland of coastal areas.
Sandspurs, on the other hand (C. spinifex) are common near the coast where I live.
How to prevent sandspurs at your coastal property
When it comes to preventing sandspurs in the first place, it helps to apply a pre-emergent to control this type of weed from popping up, but it doesn’t stop there.
According to the Richmond County Center (cop-op extension of NC State University), pre-emergent herbicides with active ingredients pendimethalin or oryzalin can provide some control. However, the effectiveness of pre-emergents they mention as being challenging due to the large size of the seed.
Focus on maintaining your lawn to avoid sandspurs
The most effective way to prevent sandspurs from growing in the first place is to focus on maintaining a healthy lawn that is well kept, properly fertilized, and mowed regularly.
Based on my experience, this usually takes a couple of seasons to achieve, but with the right grass variety and application of pre-emergent, most weeds (including sandspurs) should become less of a problem after a couple of seasons.
Spreading nitrogen, using a pre-emergent, and mowing grass at a height of four inches or more some recommend as being a good strategy to do away with them.
This is mainly due to the fact that grass tends to shade or choke out weeds from growing in the first place.
How to get rid of existing sandspurs
When it comes to eliminating sandspurs once they emerge, a post-emergent herbicide with active ingredient imazaquin can be effective once they emerge on common grass types. Depending on what grass you have planted (centipede vs. bermuda, for example) this article may be helpful in deciding what to use.
Other home remedies I’ve heard about are using carpet to remove them, although this is a temporary solution aimed at small areas.
Treating sand spurs naturally
Since sandspurs are a seasonal weed, many recommend spreading corn gluten meal as a natural pre-emergent herbicide prior to summer months. In my experience, usually sandy soils that are full of weeds are usually where I have stepped on them.
Since it is an annual weed that dies in the fall, a well-maintained yard that is free of weeds often eliminates this problem. If you’re renting out your beach house or frequently have guests or small children stay, it may be wise to hire a landscaping service to help maintain the health of your lawn throughout the year.
Now that you have a little more context on why those annoying prickly sandspurs have been popping up, you can get to the other projects that matter most to you!
For a few budget-friendly upgrades to the interior or exterior of your coastal home, check out my post 10 Budget-Friendly Interior and Exterior Beach House Upgrades. Good luck!