Q: Three years ago a weed appeared in our yard. Around Easter it will have little spurs on it that stick in your feet. My grandchildren and I like to go barefooted but this year my yard is full of it. I want to get rid of it before the spurs come.
A: Spurweed, Soliva pterosperma, invokes all sorts of ugly words from those who step on it. It’s not the same plant as the grassy sandspur, Cenchrus incertus, which makes folks on the Georgia coast hop and swear.
Both plants are annuals but your spurweed is a broadleaf plant whose seed germinate in fall and the seedlings grow slowly in winter. You could use a broadleaf pre-emergent (click for sources) herbicide in September to prevent the seeds from sprouting.
Another easy time to control it is in early spring, the first week or two of March. Spray the plants a couple of times with one of the broadleaf weed killer (click for sources).
If you can keep the plants from maturing and making burs for two summers, you should have the problem licked.
Sandspur Control (the grassy plant)