Spurge is a fast-growing, invasive weed that can quickly become a problem if not treated.
Found throughout the United States, spurge thrives in sunny, warm weather and is often found in areas of sparse or thin grass and in clay, gravel, and sandy soil. The weed is a summer annual, meaning it will grow, flower, and die in the warm weather of the summer when soil temperatures are above 60 degrees.
While there are several species of spurge found throughout the country, including spotted or prostrate spurge, creeping spurge, petty spurge, and nodding spurge, the treatment for all spurge species is the same. By being proactive and taking necessary steps as soon as you spot spurge in your lawn, you can control the weed and prevent a large infestation.
If you already have spurge in your lawn, a post-emergent herbicide treatment is the best option to control the weed.
Choose a selective post-emergent labeled for spurge, then mix with water in a backpack or hand pump sprayer according to the measurements listed on the product label.
Shake the sprayer to thoroughly combine the herbicide with water, then spray the weeds with your mixture. Be sure to wear personal protective equipment including gloves, shoes, and pants when applying.
A selective herbicide will only damage the spurge. However, make sure that any herbicide you use is labeled for your grass type to avoid damaging your turf.
It may take several post-emergent herbicide treatments to fully control the weed as more mature weeds are harder to kill. Spraying weeds once they are first sighted is your best bet for quick control as young weeds die more easily.
If you only see one or two weeds in your lawn or simply missed a few spots in your lawn with your herbicide treatment, you can pull the weeds by hand. Use a rake, hoe, or shovel to pull the weed and be sure to dig far enough into the earth to pull the main root or taproot that the weed stems grow from. Do not leave parts of the weed on the ground as new weeds can form. Instead, dispose of the pulled weeds in compostable bags.
Wear gloves and protective goggles when weeding as spurge produces a white sap that can irritate the skin and eyes when stems are broken.
If you have had spurge on your property before, planning a pre-emergent herbicide treatment will save you the hassle of having to kill or pull weeds during the summer.
Pre-emergent herbicides prevent weeds from germinating above ground and many cover multiple weed varieties, not just spurge. Apply your pre-emergent treatment just before soil temperatures reach 55 degrees in the spring.
Pre-emergent treatments can be applied to an entire lawn. A temporary marking dye may be used to help determine where the product has already been sprayed to avoid missing spots.
Be sure to follow the mixing and reapplication instructions on any herbicides used to treat for spurge.
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