Help! My sister's ginna kill me if I let this get out of hand
June 29, 2006 7:27 PM   Subscribe

Any lawn gurus here? I need help with a puncturevine outbreak.

My sister is in China for the summer and I'm taking care of her yard while she's gone. I just noticed a serious outbreak of puncturevine ( AKA goatheads or toritos) all over her backyard. The backyard lawn area is about 125'x75' and these things are everywhere so pulling them isn't an option. If these things blossom and sprout stickers, the yard will be unusable. Is there any herbicide I can apply that will kill the vines but not the grass? Or would I be better off to just spray Roundup tomorrow to kill the vines along with the grass and reseed the lawn?
posted by buggzzee23 to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Response by poster: BTW, here's what I'm talking about
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:28 PM on June 29, 2006

RoundUp solves all unwanted vegetation ills.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:11 PM on June 29, 2006

... including that pesky grass.

Go to a hardware/garden store and just look for a weed killer. Just read the plant list on the bottle. There's probably plenty that can handle that weed and save the grass. Grass is an inherently different plant than most weeds.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but ferchrissakes don't just nuke the lawn. That might make her angrier. Also consider that if the lawn erupted in the stuff, then maybe it does every year and she's been poisoning it too.
posted by intermod at 9:19 PM on June 29, 2006

[Personally, chemicals are evil. I just get down on my knees and pull it all out by hand and root gouging tool. It took about 5-7 years of doing this but now it's nearly weed free and just takes a couple hours a year of weed-pulling maintenance.]
posted by intermod at 9:21 PM on June 29, 2006

Best answer: You need a postemergent broadleaf herbicide that contains one or more of the following: 2,4-D, 2,4-DP, Dicamba, MCPA, or MCPP and it should be formulated specifically for lawns.

This is probably pretty far into the emergence, so pull as much as you can stand to as well. In the southwest it flowers as early as July so time is probably of the essence.

Because this is unlikely to control it completely and because those seeds had to come from somewhere, let your sister know next spring (if this is the southwest, like by April?) she should apply a preemergent herbicide that contains pendimethalin or trifluralin - possibly in a fertilizer/crabgrass preventer blend, and be prepared to do some pulling and reapply the postemergent herbicide in early summer.

I personally guarantee that however badly you may screw up the puncturevine control your sister will be angrier (much, much angrier) if you Roundup her lawn. If you try to build a decent turf on top of a chemically killed lawn from seed starting in July you will fail.
posted by nanojath at 9:28 PM on June 29, 2006

(Failing preview, intermod causes me shame. Could you con twenty or so of your and her friends to come over "for a nice lawn party..?" and then hand 'em garden gloves at the door. Start 'em out with a few free drinks, then it's bucket of weeds, glass of booze.)
posted by nanojath at 9:31 PM on June 29, 2006

(on the pulling method - are you associated with any churches with youth groups, or perhaps another youth organization? My youth group used to raise funds in the summer by "tackling any yard trouble - no weeds to big - no stump too deep - etc". For 50 bucks and a couple six-packs of Cola, and they should be able to take care of it).
posted by muddgirl at 5:05 AM on June 30, 2006

Response by poster: This is probably pretty far into the emergence, so pull as much as you can stand to as well. In the southwest it flowers as early as July so time is probably of the essence.posted by nanojath

I spent about 4 hours pulling yesterday and found 2 blossoms. That was what spurred the urgency. She had never had the problem back there before and I think this outbreak is due to her fence being down for construction last fall during the Santa Ana wind season. There's a large field next door and the 80 mph winds blew a lot of the very thorny seeds into her yard while the fence was down.

Thanks for your recommendations, I'll give them a shot this afternoon and hope for the best. Nuking the lawn woould be a desparate last resort measure, but I'm sure she would rather lose the lawn for a few months than have thousands of those thorns everywhere. They're a real bitch as they'll puncture the kids' bike tires, go right through the soles of tennis shoes, make the dogs' lives miserable and be carried into the house where they stick in the carpet.
posted by buggzzee23 at 6:56 AM on June 30, 2006

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