Sandburs are a wide-ranging group of grassy weeds known for their prickly burs. Some types, such as longspine sandbur (Cenchrus longispinus) and Southern sandspur (Cenchrus echinatus), are annuals that grow from seed each year. But other types are perennials that come back from the roots year after year.

Depending on the sandbur species, these weed grasses can grow 20 inches tall or hug the ground and form dense, thorny mats. Unopened leaves may be rolled, flat or folded in the shoot, depending on the type of sandbur involved.

Sandbur stems are typically round, smooth and slightly flattened. Multiple spiny burs line slightly wavy stem tips to form seed heads. The length and severity of the thorny spurs vary by type. Some species, including longspine sandbur, have bright purple-red color at the plant's base.


Sandburs grow throughout the United States, but the common species vary from region to region. These weeds typically prefer sandy soils in woods, fields, coastal plains and disturbed areas. They tolerate a wide range of soil types and adapt quickly to variable weather conditions, including excess moisture and drought.

Maintaining a thick, healthy lawn is the first line of defense against sandburs. Once established in weak turf, these resilient pests outcompete grasses and other weeds. Sandburs spread primarily by their thorny seeds, known to hitch a ride on fur and clothing. Preventing seeds and their spread helps limit these weeds significantly.


When treating sandburs or any lawn weed, always read product labels carefully. Some lawn grasses are sensitive to certain herbicides, so check labels to ensure the product suits your lawn type as well as your target weed. Only treat established lawns, never new grass seedlings. For best results, treat sandburs when newly emerged weeds are young and small.

Image Herbicide offers two highly effective liquid products to kill or control sandburs:

  • Image Kills Nutsedge Ready-to-Spray is a selective, post-emergent herbicide that kills sandbur and other listed tough weeds to the root in southern lawns. The convenient container attaches to a standard garden hose. The product automatically measures and mixes as you spray.
  • Image Kills Nutsedge Concentrate, designed for use with a pump-style sprayer, selectively kills emerged sandbur and other listed summer and winter weeds in southern lawns. This easy-to-use product is ideal for spot treatments or applications on larger lawn areas.

Sandbur Control Tip: Sandburs often blend into lawns because of their grassy foliage. Then their dreaded spiny burs appear, plaguing bare feet and tender paws. Mowing at a low height and bagging your cuttings can help reduce the seeds for next year.

Always read product labels thoroughly and follow instructions, including guidelines for lawn grasses.