We've just bought 20 acres, about 1 of which we'd like to be "lawn" and another 7-8 we'd like to have as pasture for horses (in the future). Our problem is that what little bermuda grass is there is infested with sandburrs. I know it means poor soil quality, but what's an inexpensive organic way to take care of that much land?
Mowing 'em down and improving the soil (as little as I have so far) seems to have gotten rid of most of mine. Though maybe that's because I'm able to take the "mow high" approach, that might be a little harder with bermuda.
Most things I've read point to improving the humic acid level in the soil (adding humate or compost), and either mechanically removing them (weed popper) or just mowing them as low as possible (which ought to be very easy with bermuda). I would think you'd be great in a year or two (I went from tons to very few in a year or two's worth of just mowing them). Just taking care of the areas (mowing) will help improve the soil (as this site says over and over again) and help the problem. I still have some, but the dogs aren't finding them as much anymore.
Some people also throw out the Corn Gluten Meal and vinegar sprays (when nice and hot). I wouldn't want to worry about that on 8 acres m'self though!
Another interesting action to take (from http://www.enviromateinc.com/sandburr.asp): Mechanically, the least expensive and most effective ways we have found is to drag a carpet or blanket across the field to gather the seed each time you traverse the pasture. Dispose of the carpet by burning or other means. After several times, you will find little seed left in the field.
Different parts of the US have different common names for plants, this is certain. I'm familiar with the plant in the above "wiki" link being referred to as a goathead. However, it's not the plant commonly known as sandburr in Okla. I would almost be grateful if I was dealing with goatheads vs. our sandburrs, and pictured below is the reason why.
Our sandburrs are a grassy looking plant that doesn't flower in an obvious way. Often, you aren't even aware of these sandburrs until they start producing the little pricks...oops...sorry...prickers!
It's been my experience that getting these early is the way to go. When they are green, and just emerging from the stem, they hold together and don't scatter or stick to things as easily. You can see the progression of development in the last picture. Once they dry & turn black, they fall off and/or cling to anything, I bet they're even blown around in the wind. My neighbor has let his yard go & grew one heckuva crop of these this year. Consequently, we continue to battle them in our yard. He is south of us, and our very strong south winds blow them to our yard. So the war continues!
We've picked them by hand, mowed them down, used a bagger, etc. Amended our soil, tried almost everything, except the corn gluten meal or vinegar. I'm thinking the vinegar would damage the bermuda we'd like to keep, but I dunno. I have noticed that if you get the bermuda growing nice & thick there are less places for the sandburrs to take hold. We didn't quite get our grass going that good this year. ops:
What ever I try doesn't seem to be worthwhile; as long as I have a nextdoor neighbor who neglects his lawn (it borders ours) we will always have to fight sandburrs. We will often mow the neighbors bordering strip of lawn, but dh forgot to do it last time he mowed & the sandburrs went crazy!
1st pic shows ripe, blackened sandburr dead center. You can see how easily the sandburr plant blends in with surrounding, grassy plants.
2nd shows plant. It's basically a very shallow rooted plant, which makes sense because they prefer dryness.
3rd is progression pic
Location: Zone 5
posted 9 years ago
I know goatheads as goatheads but my darling calls them sandburrs, one of the few things we have dissagreed upon. I have been going around erradicating goatheads in my yard,.. mostly in the drive or where the previous owners of this place tore up the ground driving in the mud or left parked cars around the yard.
posted 9 years ago
Being originally from the Chicago suburbs, I'd never seen a sandburr until I moved to Okla. & I used to call them cockleburrs, as that was the only thing I could compare them to.
Sorry, I guess I've become a bit of a stickler (pun intended! ) for plant names!