How to kill prostrate spurge

Do I Need Spurge Weed Treatment Services?

What is Spurge (Euphorbia)?

Spurge is the common name for Euphorbia, a hardy, expansive plant genus that includes over 2,000 species – including some cactus, evergreens, and sharp-spined shrubs. Some Spurge varieties make beautiful additions to lawns and gardens, such as Cushion Spurge and Japanese Spurge.

Not all Euphorbia species are good, however. Some are known to proliferate so easily and aggressively they’re on many states’ noxious weed lists, and many varieties ooze a milky sap known to irritate skin. If you suddenly have Spurge in your lawn, you’ve most likely run into a dreaded noxious weed species that needs immediate control.

How Do I Identify Spurge Weeds?

Due to the many Spurge varieties, it can be difficult for homeowners and gardeners to identify exactly what type of Spurge they’re dealing with.

Spurge most often grows in warm weather and has a long, central taproot that allows it to survive in drought. It usually grows low to the ground, but can pile up to reach greater heights. When the leaves or stems of a Spurge plant are broken, it exudes a caustic, milky sap known to irritate skin and be poisonous if consumed.

Here are some of the Spurge types we see most frequently in lawns and gardens.

Spotted Spurge (Prostrate Spurge)

Spotted spurge is the most common type of spurge weed. It can frequently be found in lawns as well as between patio pavers and sidewalk cracks. Look for dark green leaves directly across from each other, red stems and small, pink flowers (white/green when not fully grown). It grows low to the ground with stems that branch outward like bicycle wheel spokes, and appears very hairy.

Sometimes, but not always, the leaves of a Spotted Spurge will have a purplish, oval spot on them. The earlier you catch spotted spurge growing, the better as it’s known for being fast-growing. Its milky sap is highly caustic to the skin and poisonous to consume.

Garden Spurge

Like Spotted Spurge, Garden spurge is one of the most common weeds and often grows prostrate between sidewalk cracks and pavers in driveways and patios. Red or purplish stems are helpful identifiers of the plant. Look for fine hairs and its finely toothed leaves that grow directly opposite one another. While they have many similarities, Spotted Spurge leaves tend to be much rounder in shape and smaller as well.

Though the Garden Spurge branches out in spokes, the nodes aren’t known to anchor down, so the plant can be relatively simple to remove by hand when small. Make sure to wear gloves to avoid skin and eye exposure to its sap.

Leafy Spurge

Provided plenty of growing room by grazing cattle, Leafy Spurge is common to yards bordering pastures and rangeland. Upright portions of the plant can climb as high as 3’. Look for leaves that alternate upward, and yellow-green flowers growing at the tips of the branches. As with other varieties, Leafy Spurge is toxic to pets and humans so handle only small plants with care.

Myrtle Spurge (Creeping Spurge)

Myrtle Spurge, commonly referred to as Creeping Spurge, is known to reach heights of 20”, but always starts off low to the ground. Look for long, bluish foliage with pointed leaves that grow in a spiral pattern along the stems. Myrtle Spurge flowers are chartreuse in color and grow in bundles toward the tips of the stems. Like other spurge plants, the milky white sap produced by creeping spurge is poisonous and irritating to the skin.

Petty Spurge

Petty Spurge grows small and upright, reaching about 12” when fully grown. Petty Spurge has light green modified leaves that spiral to the tips of its branches to cradle bunches of extremely small, green flowers.

Nodding Spurge

Nodding spurge is known to grow up to 30” tall, but will usually average around 18”. Similar to Spotted Surge, its leaves grow directly across from each other on red stems, can have purple spots, and sport hairs. The biggest difference between Nodding Spurge and Spotted Spurge is the way the foliage grows. Spotted Spurge will grow prostate, while Nodding Spurge grows upward.

How Can I Prevent Lawn Spurge Weed?

Make sure you’re properly fertilizing and watering your lawn regularly. A herbicide applied to your lawn early on will help prevent Spurge from growing in the first place, but isn’t always effective against plants that have had a chance to send their taproots deep. If you have just one or two small plants, you may be able to hand pull them, but be careful to wear gloves so you aren’t irritated by any of the plant’s caustic sap.

Spurge Weed loves to grow in compacted soil, so utilizing our aeration services will help to oxygenate the earth and let more fragile grass roots take hold. While preventing Spurge is an important step, if you already have them, Senske understands how to get rid of Spurge and prevent Euphorbia from returning again.

How to Kill Spurge Weed

To save your lawn from a poisonous Spurge invasion, you’ll want to rely on Senske’s Lawn Care professionals. We know how to kill Spurge weed and our experts quickly and efficiently get rid of Spurge in lawns like yours frequently. With over 70 years of experience, our targeted approach and Senske Promise backs up our work and guarantees your lawn will be free of Spurge when we’re through!

If your lawn, patio, driveway, or sidewalks are being overtaken by Spurge weed, contact a Senske Lawn Care professional at (877) 944-4007 or click to request an estimate online for FREE!

Growing Like a Weed

It is no surprise that “spurge” rhymes with “scourge.” This nefarious weed infests beautiful lawns all over Arizona. It is very common and easy to identify, but there are some key questions in the fight against spurge: what is it, why do we struggle with it and how do we eliminate it?

What is spurge?

Spurge is a low-growing weed that fans out over an area of ground. It grows quickly, produces hundreds of seeds from a single weed, and spreads as far as it is allowed. It has a milky sap that can irritate the skin and eyes. It does not have thorns, but is a favorite home for ants.

Why is it rampant in Arizona?

Because spurge thrives in heat and sun, it is widely found in southern Arizona. The infestation of spurge seems inevitable with the weather becoming warm early in the spring and staying hot until late in the fall. Often, a well-manicured lawn is amply watered and routinely cut to keep the grass short and clean. Unfortunately short grass allows sunlight and water to penetrate the soil, thus creating the ideal conditions for the growth of spurge.

How do I get rid of it?

Eliminating spurge can seem like a daunting task. There is no fool-proof solution, but we can offer you a great option: The easiest way to eliminate spurge is to keep it from growing! Keeping a healthy lawn where the grass is thick green and strong goes a long way to keep the soil full and out of direct sunlight, leaving little room for invaders like spurge. In addition to that, Green Keeper has an experienced horticulturist who formulates herbicides for your specific needs. Before the weed begins to emerge, we can spray the ground with a specific, tailor-made herbicide and kill the spurge before it has a chance to flourish. If you already have spurge in your grass or rocks, spot treating with our broad-leaf herbicide can work wonders. You can retreat your yard every 2 weeks as needed with a broad-leaf herbicide, if it tries to make a comeback. You do not have to crawl around your lawn or on your rocks and hand-pick each weed; we can kill them before they get a chance to grow.

Let the professionals at Green Keeper be the scourge of your spurge!

Related Articles

Spurges are part of the Euphorbia genus that includes desirable perennial plants as well as invasive annual weeds. Spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata), petty spurge (Euphorbia peplus) and creeping spurge (Euphorbia serpens) are three of the annual weeds that reduce the growth of desirable plants or may ruin the look of your lawn. After killing the spurge weeds, take the necessary steps to prevent the seeds from germinating in the future.

Manual Removal

Dampen the soil where the spurge weeds are growing. This will make manually removing the weeds easier. Wear gloves to protect your hands from the irritating sap the plants produce.

Pull small infestations of the spurge weeds from the ground with gloved hands before they plant produces seeds. Remove the plant carefully from the ground avoiding breaking it off at the stem. Leaving any trace of the roots behind will result in regrowth. Dig larger infestations of the spurge weeds out of the ground with a garden hoe or spade. Dig several inches into the ground and remove the root ball.

Place the spurge plants into a garbage bag and dispose of them.

Chemical Removal

Wear chemical-resistant rubber gloves and protective eyewear.

Add 2 to 2 2/3 ounces of glyphosate herbicide to a bucket filled with 1 gallon of water and mix thoroughly.

Stir 1 teaspoon of an approved non-ionic surfactant into the solution. Pour the herbicide-water solution into a garden sprayer.

Spray the spurge weeds with the herbicide until the foliage is thoroughly covered but not to the point of runoff. Wait until a calm, sunny day when temperatures won’t exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit and it won’t rain for at least 24 hours. Protect desirable plants growing next to the spurge weed by holding a cardboard shield in front of them while spraying the herbicide. Repeat the treatment as needed.

How to kill prostrate spurge

Weed: Euphorbia maculate, same as Euphorbia supima, Chamaesyce maculata, and Chamaesyce supine. It is in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae.

Common names: spotted spurge, prostrate spurge, spotted sandmat, milk purslane, prostrate spurge, eye bane.

Description: When someone calls the Extension office and describes a weed as looking like a doily in the yard, it usually is a spotted spurge. Spotted spurge has leaves that are opposite, small, oval, about a half inch long. They sometimes are spotted with red and/or are hairy. When the reddish stems are broken they exude a white milky sap. The numerous pink flowers grow from leaf axils. The plant has a thin taproot.

Where : Found in poor, drought-stressed turf, prostrate spurge germinates and grows well during hot, dry weather on thin soils. It often is found on closely mowed sites and on edges of lawns next to curbs, driveways, and sidewalks, but may be scattered throughout the grass as well. It is low growing but can grow over short turf and spread out and form a mat, choking out the grass.

Propagation: It is an annual. Thousands of seeds may be produced by a single plant. Buried seeds can be viable for over 50 years!

Poisoning: The milky sap the spurges contain causes dermatitis, and the fresh plants must be handled with caution.

Historical: It is native to North America.

What: This is one weed that has very few beneficial claims associated with it. Even the few claims of medicinal value warn to be extremely cautious when using this plant.

Pros: Game birds attracted to the seeds seem to be the only animal that uses the plant as a food source. A passing reference says the sap has been used against warts, but with caution as a person can get an overdose – even on the skin. An herbal website says that historically the plant was used to treat cholera, diarrhea, and dysentery.

Cons: It is a weed that can be hard to control in thin turf and disturbed areas. People can react to the milky sap, so some websites recommend using gloves when pulling it.

Prostrate Spurge

Biology: Prostrate Spurge (Euphorbia humistrata) is a summer annual broadleaf weed that can be found in dry/sandy and/or nutrient-poor soils along with compacted, weakened or disturbed turfgrass and landscape sites. Look for it first in driveways and sidewalks or in potted plants in a landscape or nursery as temperatures start to get warmer. Prostrate spurge can also be found in cultivated fields, brick walls, and parking lot cracks. It germinates from seed in June and July in Indiana and spreads via low-growing prostrate stems than form a dense mat as they invade the turf canopy. Its ability to establish and grow in multiple soil/climate conditions and highly compacted soils, as well as its ability to withstand low mowing heights, make prostrate spurge a common turfgrass weed throughout the state of Indiana.

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

The leaves of prostrate spurge are pale green, hairy, egg-shaped, widest at the apex, and located opposite of each other on the stems which are pinkish in color and distinctly hairy. Prostrate spurge continually flowers from July to September and produces large quantities of viable seed throughout its life cycle. These flowers are small but numerous, originate from the base of leaves located on the upper-stem, and are composed of several male and female flowers within a cluster. It produces a fruit that consists of a 3-lobed, 3-seeded capsule with stiff hairs on its surface.

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

Prostrate spurge is very difficult to distinguish from other spurge species, particularly spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata). In fact, some taxonomists consider the two plants to be the same species. An identifying characteristic of both species is a small reddish-brown splotch at the mid-vein/base of the leaves which acts almost as a camouflage; thus, making the weed difficult to distinguish from the desired turf. The primary difference between these two species is that spotted spurge leaves are often darker in color and the nodes do not produce roots when they come into contact with the soil.

How to kill prostrate spurge

Additionally all spurges exude a milky/white sap when damaged that can be toxic to animals if ingested.

Once spurge germinates, control in cool-season turf can be achieved with applications of two- or three-way mixtures of 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, or MCPA which are available in multiple product formulations at local retailers. Repeat applications may be necessary due to the germination of new seedlings.

For archives of past weed of the month postings, visit our Weed of the Month Archive.

Purge that Spurge!

How to kill prostrate spurgeWhat starts off resembling an innocuous weed can quickly become an unwanted, low-growing ground cover. Summer rain + warm weather =very happy spurge plants! In a matter of a few weeks, this weed can easily take over your garden.

Spurge is a summer annual, but in warm climates it can sprout as early as February and grow well into September! After about 5 weeks of warm weather, spurge can produce flowers and set seed. In order to germinate, the seeds need light and warm temperatures. Seeds buried more than 1/2″ deep will not sprout. As long as warm weather continues, seeds sprout and make new plants. As weather cools, seeds lie dormant to await the following year.

How to kill prostrate spurge

There are several types of spurge, including creeping spurge, spotted spurge, ground spurge, petty spurge and nodding spurge. All of these weeds produce a milky sap when stems are broken off the plant. This sap can cause minor skin and eye irritation to gardeners. Spotted spurge is toxic to animals if eaten in large quantities. Sheep grazing in pastures full of spotted spurge have died, so it’s best to eliminate this weed if you have dogs and cats who like to chew on greenery in your yard.

Getting rid of a jungle of spurge is no easy task. It takes time, energy and persistence! (as well as a good hoe). The main taproot on some types of spurge can grow 2 feet deep. Small spurge plants can be difficult to spot. My strategy is to take a daily walk through the garden with an eagle eye. As soon as I spot the tiny weed growing I gently pull it out. However, I must confess that this year, spurge has gotten the better of me. The summer rain plus a helpful friend who left the water on my garden overnight (while I was on vacation) has led to an unruly area of spurge in my garden paths. I am taking a systematic approach to clearing out this area a little bit each day using a hoe or hand-pulling.

In the case of spurge, I do not recommend the use of chemical methods, although I must admit I’ve felt tempted! Some gardeners like to use preemergents, which prevent weeds before they sprout. However, the labels on these products warn against their use in home vegetable gardens, as chemical residues last for months. Glyphosate (also known as roundup) may be helpful if you have large areas of spurge. 2,4-D is not effective in the control of large, mature weeds.

Aside from pulling out spurge by hand, you can also use mulch to kill it. Smother spurge with 3-4 inches of coarse mulch. Just remember, mulch breaks down and will need to be replaced. If you have a large amount of spurge, you may want to consider soil solarization. This process is done during the summer months, and can help eliminate many weeds, pathogens and insects.

And, as you purge that spurge in your garden, it may surprise you to know that somewhere, in a laboratory garden, it is growing spurge is grown on purpose. Apparently the milky sap of spurge is being studied as a possible cure for skin cancer. Keep that in mind as you purge that spurge!

Euphorbia supina

Prostrate Spurge is a summer annual broadleaf weed that is also commonly known as Chamaesyce maculata, Euphorbia maculate and Spotted Spurge. Its scientific name is Euphorbia supina.





Prostrate Spurge is a horizontal to ascending broadleaf weed that is branching and mat-forming. Its young leaves often have a maroon spot or blotch on the upper surface, hence the nickname Spotted Spurge. The stems and leaves exude a milky sap when injured, and the stems are pinkish in color and densely hairy. Prostrate Spurge has a shallow taproot with a secondary fibrous root system, and the leaf margins are sometimes toothed near the apex. Prostrate Surge flowers from May through October, producing tiny greenish-white flowers. Reproduction occurs by seeds and at the nodes.

Life Cycle

This broadleaf weed commonly grows in disturbed sites, such as poorly maintained lawns, waste areas, cultivated ground, glades and along sidewalks, railroads and roadsides. Prostrate Spurge can be found throughout much of North America.

How to kill prostrate spurge


Euphorbia supina can be a problem in lawns—especially in high-traffic areas. Cultural methods, including physical removal, can be used to eliminate single plants. However, Prostrate Spurge can quickly infest your lawn and landscaping, requiring the use of professionally applied broadleaf weed killers.

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Common Name(s):

  • Prostrate Spurge
  • Spotted Sandmat
  • Spotted Spurge

Previously known as:

  • Chamaesyce maculata
  • Chamaesyce matthewsii
  • Chamaesyce supina
  • Chamaesyce tracyi
  • Euphorbia rayturneri
  • Euphorbia supina

Spotted spurge is a summer annual weed with a prostrate growth habit that flourishes in warm climates and dies back after frost. It is typically found in sidewalk cracks, gravel, roadsides, gardens, and sometimes woodlands. The small, oblong leaves grow opposite on the stem and have an irregular maroon to purple spot in the center. When stems are broken or injured they emit a milky white sap similar to dandelion. The plant forms a thick taproot, which can extend two feet into the soil, and it rarely or never roots at the leaf nodes. The small greenish-white flowers appear in summer and early fall. Even tiny seedlings can flower and set prolific amounts of seed which has limited or no dormancy.

Because spurges flower when young and have little or no seed dormancy, weed populations can increase rapidly. Remove plants as quickly as possible to reduce seed production; though they can be time-consuming to hand weed due to the number of seedlings that form. Mowing is ineffective because plants grow so close to the ground. Spurges are well-managed by most preemergence herbicides labeled for use.

Spotted spurge is similar to Euphorbia prostrata and is also known by the common name, Prostrate Spurge. They can be easily distinguished from each other because Euphorbia prostrata has shorter leaves that are more rounded at the tips and there is no spot in the center.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems: There are no known diseases or insect problems. This plant spreads aggressively. Spurges are some of the most common warm-season weeds in container nurseries, agriculture, and landscape ornamental beds.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for “Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti”, a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video: See this plant in the following landscape: Cultivars / Varieties: Tags: #poisonous#full sun tolerant#annuals#white flowers#weeds#summer annual weed#mat#summer flowers#sap#weed control#milky sap#warm climates#groundcover#poor soils tolerant#warm season weed#native weed

Last Updated: 8th March, 2020

Furthermore, how do you get rid of spurge naturally?

Use a post-emergent herbicide if the weeds are already growing.

  1. Pick a non-selective herbicide with glyphosate to kill all the plants in the area where it is applied.
  2. Use a selective 2,4-D broadleaf herbicide if you want to protect grass and plants that may be underneath the spurge.

Furthermore, what happens if you eat spurge? If ingested in even small quantities, spurge can cause violent vomiting and diarrhea. In larger quantities, it can cause death. This plant is perhaps less toxic than the first, depending on who you talk to. There have been no known human deaths, but there have been many reported cases of livestock fatalities.

Just so, does spurge kill grass?

Monterey Spurge Power is a post-emergence herbicide formulated to control spurge, clover, dandelions, oxalis, creeping Charlie, wild violet, ground ivy, and broadleaf weeds in lawns. Spurge Power can be used in both cool and warm climates, and can help to control hard-to-kill weeds other products may leave behind.

How do you stop spurge?

Use A Post-Emergent Herbicide Treatment Post-emergent herbicides treat weeds that have bloomed and are active in a lawn. By choosing a post-emergent herbicide treatment that is labeled for spurge, such as Ferti-Lome Weed-Out or Dismiss Turf Herbicide, you can kill spurge weeds.

Am I getting a little paranoid or what? I think there is a plot ongoing in my garden for the Prostrate Spurge to engulf the whole yard, house, garage and swallow us up like an infestation of kudzu. How you ever tried to fight that little plant? Does something even exist for prostrate spurge control? Pulling and pulling it is all I can do for now in my garden and planters.

How to kill prostrate spurge

This evil weed’s scientific name is Euphorbia prostrata or Euphorbia maculata which means it is related to all those euphorbia that produce a milky white sap when the stems are cut. This sap may or may not irritate your skin or eyes, so be sure to take care when you pull or yank the plant up. Most of the time I can easily pull it . Now that’s a lot harder when it invades my hypertufa pots. So aggravating!

How to kill prostrate spurge

You will probably recognize this annual weed since it is all over the Eastern USA and a few western states. It lies almost flat to the ground and grows quickly and can cover large areas if left alone. Prostrate spurge has a reddish stem with tiny hairs and most will sometimes show the red spot on the leaf. This one creeps along the ground like a snake. The other Spotted Spurge is almost identical but has a slightly more upright habit to its growth. Like a snake raising its head off the ground. Do you detect that I don’t like this plant? I have complained about it before on another post.

How to kill prostrate spurge

You know what I hate about this weed? Its green color is so similar to a lot of my succulents that it can hide in plain site. I can be looking at one of my hypertufa planters and thinking how well it is doing and checking it over for weeds. Suddenly, it’s like my eyes focus and a finally “see” a 6″ diameter Prostrate spurge laughing back at me! Most times if the pot is easily accessible to me, I can maneuver to reach into the pot and find the central stem of the spurge weed and pull it out with pleasure. I love it when I get that long taproot in one pull! Such gratification!

Controlling Prostrate Spurge

Well, I hate to burst your bubble but that’s not going to happen. JMO. This weed grows so fast and seeds so easily when it blooms, it seems prostrate spurge control is just a dream. In lawns, it can be treated with herbicides meant to control other weeds, but sometimes that is not an option. It takes some patience, but pulling the weed is sometimes what needs to be done. ( And there is something so satisfying about pulling this huge round weed that is the size of an umbrella and getting it all up out of the ground, taproot and all, in one single pull.)

How to kill prostrate spurge

My reasoning about why I cannot accomplish any prostrate spurge control is because those seeds created can pop out and disperse all over an area and even though I religiously pull the spurge when it grows back, there are a thousand more seeds waiting in the ground to awake and begin growing. And did I say it is fast-growing?

How to kill prostrate spurge

Check out this huge one I had in the boulder garden here in the video. It was nestled as comfortably reclining with its poofy and flouncy “dress” all cascading around the rocks. I just reached in there and got that hussy and Mwwaahaahaa! She is gone. and her little flowers too! No seeds for you today!

Even though this plant is an annoying weed, there can be some good in all things. In my research for information about these spurges, I found some interesting info about the sap from spotted spurge being tested for the treatment for skin cancer. The article is date 9/09 and states: “Although spotted spurge sap is being studied as a cure for various skin cancers, in general, the sap of all members of this genus is an eye and skin irritant.” I wasn’t able to find anything further, but let’s hope something can be found.

Thanks for your visit and be sure to check out the video. What is your most annoying weed?

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How to kill prostrate spurge

Prostrate spurge (Euphorbia maculata)

General description

Prostrate spurge is a summer annual broadleaf weed that spreads by seed. Spurge is low growing. The leaves are oval in shape, small, and opposite along the stem. There is usually a red spot in the center. Another distinct characteristic is the stem contains a milky sap that oozes when the stem is broken. Flowers from early summer through the fall.

How to kill prostrate spurgeDark spots on spotted spurge foliage
Photo: Steve Dewey, Utah State University,

Management in lawns

Lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier.

Chemical treatment in lawns

If you choose this option, spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients:
2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba*, or Triclopyr.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Refer to the product label for precautions.

21 September, 2017

Spotted spurge is an annual weed that invades lawns and flowerbeds. Gardeners may identify spotted spurge growing in the yard by its dense low-growing characteristics, according to the University of California, Davis, website. It is important to remove the weed from the yard with the correct type of weed killer to prevent harming your grass or ornamental plants.

Pre-Emergent Herbicide

Pre-emergent herbicide prevents spotted spurge seeds from germinating only when used correctly. Spotted spurge seeds germinate when soil temperatures rise to 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of 1 inch in the soil, according to the University of California, Davis. Gardeners must apply the pre-emergent spray right before soil temperatures favor seed germination. To check the soil temperatures, press a soil thermometer in the first inch of top soil in the early spring. Check the soil temperatures in the morning and afternoon. Average both temperatures to get an accurate reading.

Applying Pre-Emergents

Apply a pre-emergent herbicide that contains an active ingredient such as pendimethalin, trifluralin, dithiopyr and oryzalin, as recommended by UC Davis. Spray the lawn and garden beds evenly with the herbicide. Make sure to spray areas that do not normally see spotted spurge growth, because weed seeds may have spread. Water the lawn and garden after applying the spray. Without supplying water, the pre-emergent herbicide will not sink into the soil to prevent weed seed germination.

  • Pre-emergent herbicide prevents spotted spurge seeds from germinating only when used correctly.
  • Gardeners must apply the pre-emergent spray right before soil temperatures favor seed germination.

Post-Emergent Herbicide

Post-emergent herbicide may be used to control existing spotted spurge weeds. Avoid mowing the lawn for two days before and after applying post-emergent herbicide. The more surface area on the spotted spurge, the more effective the spray will be absorbing into the foliage. Apply a post-emergent spray to your lawn that contains active ingredients such as 2,4-D, MCPP or dicamba. For flowerbeds, gardeners should carefully use a broad-spectrum herbicide.

Broad-Spectrum Herbicides

Broad-spectrum herbicide kills any vegetation that it touches. Therefore, gardeners carefully protect their ornamental plants from the spray by placing pieces of plastic over plants. You can also paint your broad-spectrum herbicide onto the leaves of spotted spurge to remove weeds growing right next to your ornamental plants. For this herbicide type to be effective, spray broad-spectrum spray when there is a 48-hour window of dry weather. Turn off your irrigation systems, so the water doesn’t remove the herbicide.

Knotweed is an invasive perennial weed that commonly infests lawns. Knotweed has a habit of growing low to the ground and gradually spreads. Often it’ll start out in a small area where there will be a plant or two then if it isn’t dealt with can overtake a yard in a short period of time.

Knotweed is becoming increasingly common in states like Florida where about 15 species occur. Some are exotic while others are native. Knotweed spreads by creeping rhizomes and seeds. Knotweed can grow in a variety of areas such as roadsides, fields, and places that are not managed regularly. They grow in marshes and swamps, wet areas, ditches, and just about any wetland situation. A distinguishing characteristic of Knotweed is its swollen nodes where the leaves meet the stems. Leaves are spear-shaped, narrow and willow-like.

If you are having a problem with Knotweed on your lawn, our DIY Knotweed treatment guide can help. The instructions below were recommended by our lawn care experts and will show you how to properly kill Knotweed and ensure it doesn’t return.


Knotweed is an annual weed that likes to grow in the early summer. This invasive plant develops slowly and by mid-summer, it is easily noticeable. The interesting thing about Knotweed is that it grows laterally rather than vertical, which is what helps it to overtake a yard and become an eyesore. Mature knotweed form mats of slender stems that are swollen at the nodes. The flowers are very small and inconspicuous. Based on its appearance, knotweed can often be mistaken for other weeds like spotted spurge or purslane but there are slight differences in the leaf arrangement and traits of the leaves.

Use the description and image above to help you to properly identify knotweed. If you’re having trouble, contact us and send us a photo of your weed and we will identify it for you and suggest treatment options.


When and Where to Inspect

Mid-summer is the best time to conduct a knotweed inspection. Look for it next to driveways and sidewalks as it can push out towards there. Knotweed thrives in any moist soil and either in full or partial sunlight. Knotweed is known to be most common in the flood plains alongside rivers and creeks. It also grows in road-side ditches, waste areas, and beaches.

As the Knotweed matures, it becomes tough, wiry and prostrate and develops a thin taproot which if you can discover early and dig out and hand pull will help to eliminate it from establishing. However by the time the weed is noticeable by midsummer it may be too late to be able to do this.

What to Look For

Look for where the knotweed is concentrated. Their leaves are long, narrow and rounded at the tip and often have a coating that looks like white powder. Knotweed flowers are small and pinkish or white.


Before you handle any herbicides, make sure you have on the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, mask, and safety glasses. If knotweed has already emerged, msm turf herbicide has shown to do a good job in controlling the invasion. In some cases where the knotweed is stubborn and persistent, a repeat application should be conducted to get better post-emergence control.

Step 1: Measure and Mix MSM Turf Herbicide

MSM Turf Herbicides covers up to 1 acre of land. Adding a surfactant to the msm turf herbicide mixture such as alligare 90 can enhance the effectiveness of the product. Apply alligare 90 at a rate of 4 Teaspoons per 1 finished gallon of msm turf herbicide. For knotweed control, apply 0.5 to 1 fl. oz. of msm turf per acre.

Calculate the square footage of your yard by measuring and multiplying the area length times the width (length x width = square footage) and then input the appropriate amount of msm turf herbicide in a pump sprayer or hose-end sprayer into the sprayer mixed with water. Add surfactant to the msm turf herbicide mixture at a rate of 0.24 tsp (1 gram) per gallon of the solution and agitate until well mixed.

Step 2 – Spray the Knotweed

Apply the msm turf herbicide solution to the knotweed on a fan tip nozzle spray setting to spray a fine mist that will evenly coat the weed. Spray an adequate amount all over the knotweed. Within a few days, it will start to show signs of wilting and death and before long it will be eliminated.

Step 3 – Follow Up Application

There are times when knotweed can be persistent and difficult-to-control and will need a follow-up application. Check back in 7 to 10 days to see how the Knotweed is faring and reapply after 4 to 6 weeks until the plant has totally died out.


After the knotweed has been eliminated, you don’t want it to return next growing season. For pre-emergent control, Nitrophos Barricade has shown to be effective to keep Knotweed from germinating in the spring time. Knotweed is an annual that germinates in late February or early March, so the best time to apply pre-emergent herbicide should be in the late fall. However, if it is too late and the Knotweed is out and about, you should use a post-emergent herbicide instead.

The best way to prevent knotweed from making a return and taking over is to grow healthy turf grass that will choke out any weed attempting to grow. Address compacted soil issues by reducing foot traffic on your grass. Applying mulch is another good preventative measure against prostrate weed in vegetable gardens. Coat the entire garden bed with polyethylene mulch and cut holes enough for watering around the plant.

How to kill prostrate spurge

  • May 20, 2021
  • jennifer
  • Weed of the Month Series

Facts about Spurge

  • This is a summer annual weed. Prostrate Spurge germinates late in the season. And is mostly seen during the heat of the summer.
  • Spurge has a milky sap when damaged or cut and can be toxic to animals if ingested. Some people are also allergic to the sap.
  • The seeds can stay viable in the soil for up to 50 years.
  • Spurge is in the same family as the Poinsettia plant.

Ideal Conditions for Weed Growth

Prostrate spurge is an indicator weed. This means that it really only shows up in lawns that are drought stressed, or poorly watered. This weed thrives in hot, full sun areas. It will grow in both lawn and non-turf areas.

How to Control Spurge

The best prevention for this weed is a sprinkler audit. Because this weed only shows up in drought stressed lawns if you water deeply and infrequently this weed will go away on its own.

If you want to get rid of the weed that is currently up we can get control of this weed by doing back to back applications of our 100% organic post-emergent weed control and fertilizer called One Earth. This application should be done about a week to 10 days apart. You will get the best results when treating early in the year (late April-May), when it is young and actively growing.

For rock or mulch areas we would suggest using Avenger, this will need to be used on young weeds or weeds 4 inches or shorter. Avenger will only kill the top growth, so it typically needs to be done about every 4-6 weeks.

Having a lush lawn will also help prevent this and other weeds from growing in the lawn because there is no room for them to move in. Deep and infrequent watering, feeding the lawn high quality organic matter, and mowing the lawn tall will all help promote a thick healthy lawn.

Spurge, commonly known as spotted and/or prostrate spurge, is an annual summer weed that grows low and can reach up to three feet in diameter. This weed will not only appear in weak areas in your lawn, but also sidewalk cracks, gardens and landscape beds.

What Does Spurge Look Like?

Spurge grows out matted in a wagon wheel shape, centered with red and surrounded by green, oval-shaped leaves. Also, be aware of milky white sap that may ooze from it because it can irritate the skin.

How to Prevent or Control Spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

Since this weed grows in areas with compacted soil, there are multiple ways to remove and prevent spurge.

  • When the soil is moist, you can pull the weeds from the roots. Do this before it flowers so it can’t produce more seeds.
  • Mulching is an effective way to smother the weeds before they grow too much.
  • Applying a non-selective herbicide can also kill spurge when it’s young.
  • Solarizing is also an option, but it will kill anything else in the soil that’s in that area.

And, as always, keeping a healthy and luscious yard with a lawn care program or mowing and maintenance program will prevent weeds from ruining your beautiful yard in the future.

Learn more about other lawn weeds in Northeast Ohio or contact us by filling out the form below.

Though the economy and housing market have begun to recover in the aftermath of the Great Recession, one unexpected impact still lingers. Landscape nurseries that saw fewer plant sales during the downturn are now battling weeds entrenched in unsold containers of perennials, shrubs and trees.

Some of the most common weeds battled by nurseries are in the spurge or Euphorbiaceae family, a group of low-growing plants that thrive in hot and sunny locations. Examples include sandmat and the spotted and prostrate spurges.

“The nursery owners I work with here in the Southwest say spurge is their number one pest problem and a real health hazard for their workers,” reports Kelly Young, a member of the Western Society of Weed Science and assistant agent for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

When the stems or leaves of spurge plants are broken, they ooze a milky sap that can cause dermatitis and eye irritation. Dense, low-growing mats of spurge foliage can also harbor fire ants, ginger ants, red ants and other insects with a venomous bite or sting, which place nursery workers at risk.

“Workers loading plants onto a delivery truck will frequently hand-weed each pot so it looks pristine and weeds aren’t transported to the job site,” Young says. “That means there are lots of opportunities for insect bites and for exposure to the irritating sap.”

Weed scientists say early intervention is critical to spurge control. The spurges flower when very young and produce seeds that can germinate right away, with little or no dormancy. As a result, spurge weeds often spread quickly.

Young offers the following tips that can help nurseries gain the upper hand and eradicate spurge from plant containers:

  • Pull it up. Remove all spurge you find growing in pots to prevent further seed production. Wash your hands and forearms thoroughly afterwards, even if you were wearing gloves.
  • Use the right herbicide the right way. Apply a preemergent herbicide according to the precise instructions on the product label. It’s especially important to calibrate your sprayer to make certain you’re not using too little or too much. “I’ve seen nurseries apply herbicides at only half the recommended label rate, and they weren’t getting the results they were after,” Young says.
  • Add water. Preemergent herbicides used to treat spurge need to be watered into the soil to form a protective barrier.
  • Add mulch. Top off each pot with a two-inch layer of compost, manure or wood chips.
  • Keep your hands off. It may be tempting to dip a finger into a pot from time to time to see if plants need to be watered. But doing so will break the protective shield established by the herbicide and create an opportunity for weeds to sprout.
  • Establish a zero tolerance policy. If you spot spurge that has escaped control, pull it immediately. Don’t toss the plants on the ground or you could spread hundreds of tiny seeds.

“I’ve worked closely with nursery managers who were convinced nothing would work against spurge,” Young said. “Invariably, though, I discovered missteps in how they were trying to manage the weed. They weren’t applying herbicides in the right amount, weren’t watering the herbicides in or were skipping some other vital step. Once they buttoned up their process, they were able to eliminate the weed entirely.”

Spurge control tips for homeowners

Rich Bonanno, Ph.D., a member of the extension faculty at the University of Massachusetts, says spurge isn’t found only in nurseries. It is a frequent, unwelcomed guest in lawns and gardens and in crevices along sidewalks, driveways and parking pads. And it can overrun other desirable plants growing in its path.

There are steps homeowners can take to manage spurge effectively, though. If you are adding new plants to your landscape, make certain you aren’t transporting spurge home from the nursery. Closely inspect pots for weeds before planting new trees, shrubs or perennial plants. Also, follow the protocol recommended for nurseries and apply a thick layer of mulch around your new plants.

If you choose to use a preemergent herbicide on your lawn or plant beds to protect against spurge and other weeds, use the right amount, apply it according to the label directions and water it in. Scout for spurge through the summer and pull any seedlings that have escaped control – being careful to wash your hands thoroughly when you are done.

“With a little vigilance, you can keep spurge in its place,” Bonanno says.

About the Weed Science Society of America

The Weed Science Society of America, a nonprofit scientific society, was founded in 1956 to encourage and promote the development of knowledge concerning weeds and their impact on the environment. The Weed Science Society of America promotes research, education and extension outreach activities related to weeds, provides science-based information to the public and policy makers, fosters awareness of weeds and their impact on managed and natural ecosystems, and promotes cooperation among weed science organizations across the nation and around the world. For more information, visit

Spurge overruns a plant container at a Southwest nursery. Photo courtesy of Kelly Young, University of Arizona Cooperative Extension
How to kill prostrate spurge

Prostrate Spurge


spotted spurge, Chamaesyce maculata, Euphorbia supina, parking-lot-mulched-tree-island-weed


Prostrate spurge is a late-germinating, low growing, mat-producing summer annual. Spurge is very often found in un-irrigated bark mulch common to parking lot tree islands, crevices and boulevards. Spurge will tolerate some shade but thrives in harsh full-sun baked sites. The reddish somewhat hairy stems of spurge will produce a milky-white latex when broken or injured (similar to dandelion).

Crops Affected: turf


Because prostrate spurge grows from a small taproot it is easy to remove large plants by hand. Spurge will survive in harsh conditions where the turfgrass has long-since departed. Spurge must reproduce by seed from year-to-year. Encouraging turfgrass density in the fall and spring should be fairly effective for limiting the presence of spurge in turfed areas. Spurge is most likely to invade when spring conditions have opened the turf from drought or grub damage. Prostrate spurge is a late-germinating summer annual, ideally suited to fill-in voids in the turf during June, July and August.

Similar Species

Prostrate spurge and spotted spurge (Euphorbia supina, Euphorbia maculata) are accepted as the same species and are often referred to synonymously. Prostrate knotweed is found in many of the same dry habitats as spurge but does not produce latex from broken stems. Common purslane has thick fleshy stems and leaves. Spurge will form leaves along the entire stem, whereas purslane tends to forms leaves in clusters at the end of the branches.

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Weeds popping up through paving stones or cracks in sidewalks can be a huge annoyance. Here’s a solution to stop them without back breaking work or toxic pesticides. Fill a spray bottle with household white vinegar, and spray it liberally on the offending weeds.

The acidity of the vinegar with a little help from the sun will quickly burn the weeds up. Stubborn weeds may require a second application and English ivy may resist the treatment all together, but most weeds will be gone in a few hours.

  • TAGS
  • vinegar
  • weed
  • weeds
  • yard


Tried it earlier this summer–didn’t faze my weeds. I’m afraid I’m back to 2,4-D and Glyphosate.

Vinegar products, if sold as a herbicide, are illegal unless registered with the EPA.

Vinegar seems to kill some small weeds popping up in paving and gravel but it is certainly not of any assistance in a lawn or border.

In a border, hoeing and digging is the only way of controlling weeds. Mulch of bark or compost always rots down and is also of no use.

In a lawn however, normal table salt is an excellent weedkiller. Spread liberally, it collects on broadleaf weed’s leaves and burns them. It falls of the small upright leaves of grasses and falls to the soil, topping up internal sodium and chloride-2-propanal levels in the soil giving healthier plants.

We have fireants that you can not see because the grass is so thick. What is the best insectide for fire ants. It seems what ever we use they just move from one place in the yard to another? Or is it best just to hire a professional lawn service which can be costly?

Hi Ronnie,
I had the same problem in my yard. Last spring I used a fertilizer spreader to broadcast a product called Over ‘n Out, that’s guaranteed to keep fire ants away for a year, on my entire yard. I haven’t had any fire ants at all in the six months since then. Check out our video on Fire Ant Removal for more information and a link to their website.

What is the best product to use to get rid of Dollar weed in Saint Augustine/Centipede grass?

Can I use ammonia or bleach on some stubbron Trumpet vine that is in a relatively small space between our garage and a 5 foot high fence? We have been cutting them back for yers, and just want them gone! No one will ever have a garden in that area.

What is the best way to prevent or stop Crab grass, Dandelions and Prostate Spurge? I have all of these in the lawn. I have read about pre-emergents and need something that is not going to kill the grass and is safe or kids and pets.

Hi. I do a morning foot soak of Apple cider vinegar added to my bucket of cold kitchen sink hot water waiting for warmup. After boiled water soak has cooled down I was wondering what I could do with this water. Great idea to kill weeds!

What exactly is the best way to prevent or quit Crab grass, Dandelions and Prostate Spurge? I’ve all of those inside the lawn. I’ve study about pre-emergents and need to have anything that’s not going to kill the grass and is safe or kids and pets.

Large sections of my back lawn is being taken over by clover. How can I eliminate the clover in favor of grass?

Where are the answers to these queshions located?

Hi, Tena!
We provide questions (we receive thousands each year) to Danny Lipford, America’s leading home improvement expert, on a weekly basis. We’re not able to answer every question due to the high volume of mail we receive and Danny’s busy schedule, but we sure do our best.

We encourage the community to help each other when they can. One fan may have the answer to another fan’s question, and we think that’s awesome. 🙂
Thanks for visiting

Will it kill my centipede grass

Hi, Tommy!
Centipede grass can be vulnerable to various weed killers.
Here’s an excellent resource for more information:
Thanks for writing!

If I pour the vinegar/epsom salt on the dirt to hopefully kill off the roots of the lamium that had invaded my flower bed, will it affect the spirea and the peony that are close by (approx a foot away)?

Will this kill my Aloe Vera ? I’ve been looking for a weed killer that won’t damage them . My Aloe Vera are rather big .


Hi there!
Here’s some great information from the Clemson Cooperative Extension:
Good luck with that dollarweed!

I have a boxer with severe allergies on her feet. Yard has numerous weeds and stickers. If I killer them with vinegar will grass grow there afterwards

Common Name(s):

  • Ground Spurge
  • Prostrate Sandmat
  • Prostrate Spurge

Previously known as:

  • Chamaesyce prostrata

This plant can give the appearance of a chunky sweater with its warm colors and comforting shapes of its leaves. Indeed, it tolerates the heat well, and with its delicate look, it could become a favorite in your garden that you do not want to remove. The tones of red and green draw you in to look further and think of the cooler days of fall and winter.

Spurges are summer annual weeds that flourish in warm weather, but in warmer climates, some can persist into late fall. Plants flower in summer and early fall, then die after frost. Flowers are greenish-white. Spurges are some of the most common warm-season weeds in container nurseries. Each exudes a milky sap when stems or leaves are broken.

Spotted and Ground Spurge are similar and have prostrate to ascending stems with round or oblong leaves. Some have a large dark spot on the leaf blade. Seedlings are very small but will flower when young. This plant is a prolific seeder. Seeds have limited or no dormancy and germinate quickly.

Management for Spurges: Because spurges flower when young and have little or no seed dormancy, weed populations can increase rapidly. Remove plants when young to reduce seed production. They are time-consuming to hand weed due to the number of seedlings that form. Some species may forcefully discharge seeds. Spurges are well-managed by most pre-emergence herbicides labeled for use.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for “Houseplants, Succulents, and Cacti”, a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.

Profile Video: See this plant in the following landscape: Cultivars / Varieties: Tags: #heat tolerant#annuals#weeds#weedy#fall interest#summer annual weed#summer flowers#sap#small flowers#weed control#milky sap#hairy leaves

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My spurge problem has returned

Post by claydus » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:05 pm

This is single handily the most frustrating weed that I have ever dealt with. Has anyone else had problems with this? I mistakenly applied pre-emergent in the fall and forgot to apply in the late winter. I have a post emergent (Spurge Power) that will kill this stuff but it yellows the healthy grass for weeks it seems. When you pull this weed it tends to break in half there is a milky like sap that gets all over your hands. Anyone else have success stories battling this stuff?

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Greendoc » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:09 pm

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Romangorilla » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:14 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Greendoc » Sun Jul 07, 2019 9:47 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by claydus » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:07 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Bbq freakshow » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:11 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Greendoc » Sun Jul 07, 2019 10:13 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by claydus » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:41 am

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by SwBermuda » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:08 am

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by hsvtoolfool » Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:53 am

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by SwBermuda » Mon Jul 08, 2019 12:05 pm

I’ve used this to control my spurge and it works well killing it off. Only problem is, the spurge returns within 3-4 weeks in my case.

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by hsvtoolfool » Mon Jul 08, 2019 3:26 pm

Sorry if I confused or complicated your thread. I was asking the more experienced members to confirm if Celcius controls spurge. I’m pretty sure it does kill spurge along with virginia buttonweed and most other nasty broad-leaf weeds.

I’ve used that Bayer “All-in-One” consumer product before. If I recall, it’s 2-4D and Quinclorac. It’s okay for dandelions and easy weeds like that. Just don’t spray it when it’s much over 85° F (like now!) or it will deeply stress your Bermuda. The grass will eventually recover in a few weeks, but you’ll have yellow-ish lawn until then.

Celcius is also a Bayer product, but it’s a professional-grade chemical rather than a consumer product. To get some perspective on a “pro-grade” chemical, a bottle of Celcius is about $100 and you measure out the granules in fractions of a gram using a precision scale.

With the help and knowledge I get here at TLF, I sprayed Celcius for the first time about 1.5 weeks ago and I’ll likely spot-spray any surviving weeds next weekend. Spraying Celcius is a much bigger investment in money, equipment, and time spent learning. It must be applied precisely. If you’re interested in DIY weed control, you might want to search the forum on the keyword “Celcius”. Otherwise, you might contact a local lawn company to spray Celcius and pre-emergents (like Prodiamine or Dithiopyr) for you.

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Spammage » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:30 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by ram82 » Mon Jul 08, 2019 10:24 pm

How to kill prostrate spurge

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by hsvtoolfool » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:13 am

Yes. and no. The only question is “How long?” I threw down Preen Extended in late February-ish. After about 5 months, spurge is the only weed to recently reappear (so far) in my mulch beds. Even then we’re talking like. five plants. which I nuked with extreme prejudice using Roundup 365 (I pull the dead carcass out later). I figure it’s getting about time to throw down some more Preen before the next Summer storm system moves through. For now, I’m keeping an eye on the beds to see how long it lasts. I’ve been very pleased so far. I’ve done almost no weeding this year.

My biggest headache is that Preen doesn’t seem to prevent acorns from germinating in my pine bark mulch (buried by Tree Rats). I also noticed that my “October Surprise” camellia didn’t like the taste of Preen and kinda drooped afterwards. So I’ll go light around that plant in the future.

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by ram82 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 12:11 am

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by ga_dawg » Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:21 am

Can you expound on this more? I applied podium at the 6 month rate last fall and still have some spurge coming through. Not as much as last year for sure, so I know the podium helped but still some. When MSM is working as a pre emergent does it have a different effective action that Podium?

Spurge seems to develops seeds even while the plant is still young. Not only do I want to kill the spurge that I have now, but I’d like to keep seeds from germinating again this season. Sounds like MSM will kill the spurge I have now and have some preventative action on more growth?

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by Greendoc » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:13 pm

Can you expound on this more? I applied podium at the 6 month rate last fall and still have some spurge coming through. Not as much as last year for sure, so I know the podium helped but still some. When MSM is working as a pre emergent does it have a different effective action that Podium?

Spurge seems to develops seeds even while the plant is still young. Not only do I want to kill the spurge that I have now, but I’d like to keep seeds from germinating again this season. Sounds like MSM will kill the spurge I have now and have some preventative action on more growth?

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by LawnRat » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:20 pm

Re: My spurge problem has returned

Post by gkaneko » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:50 pm

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Prostrate Knotweed — A Harbinger of Spring

Prostrate knotweed (Polygonum aviculare) is one of the first summer (warm season) annual weeds to germinate, first appearing when soil temperatures are only in the 40’s. For this reason, I know that spring has arrived when I see it emerge. Though its subtle beauty is perhaps less appreciated than that of other spring knockouts like magnolias and tulips.

The late Dr. Marshal McGlamery, better known as “Mac”, University of Illinois professor of weed science used to always joke about this weed saying, “It’s occasionally called knotgrass but it’s not grass, it’s knotweed!” His jokes were always “punny” — not the funniest but certainly memorable. And to this day, I’m certain many of his students still know that when knotweed first emerges, it looks like grass. The seed leaves (cotyledons) are very narrow.

How to kill prostrate spurge
Knotweed seedlings.

How to kill prostrate spurge
Knotweed seedlings.

With time, seedlings will grow into a circular mat. Stems can extend up to 2 feet long. They are wiry and tough to pull apart especially if the plant has been growing in droughty conditions. The leaves are dull, blue-green, alternate on the stem, long and narrow (up to 1¼ inch long and ⅓ inch wide). The leaves can appear grayish-green or whitish green when infected with mildew fungi. Being a member of the Buckwheat family, it has a papery sheath (ocrea) surrounding the stem at the leaf base.

How to kill prostrate spurge
Prostrate knotweed.

The flowers are borne in small clusters in leaf axils from June through October but typically go unnoticed due to their small size. The sepals are white to green, with pinkish margins. Seeds then follow which is how the plant reproduces.

Plants can show some purpling after a frost. This is perhaps when they are most attractive and the flowers are most noticeable.

Prostrate knotweed is an indicator of compacted soils and is often found growing in full sun in thin turf or next to sidewalks and driveways where traffic has spilled over. If not for this weed, bare soil would be found in many of these areas. Where I grew up, our grassy farm field drive was mostly prostrate knotweed in many of the areas. I grew up thinking it was a type of grass until Mac told me otherwise.

Prostrate spurge is similar in appearance and in growth habit, however, it has oppositely arranged leaves and the stems exude a milky sap when damaged.

Prostrate knotweed has a thin taproot so hand removal is an option, but best used on young plants growing in moist soil. Tillage can be used and for turfgrass situations, core aerification can be used to get more oxygen to the roots which can aid in growth of grass. Prostrate knotweed tolerates low oxygen levels in the soil.

Postemergent herbicides for controlling this weed in turf include 2,4-D, and dicamba, while preemergent options include pendimethalin and prodiamine. Due to the early arrival of prostrate knotweed, fall preemergent applications are often used. For landscapes, these herbicides may be used: dichlobenil, dithiopyr, isoxaben, napropamide, oryzalin, trifluralin. For more information about these herbicides, consult the Commercial Landscape & Turfgrass Pest Management Handbook available at Remember to read and follow all pesticide label directions. (Michelle Wiesbrook)

The mention of trade names in this newsletter is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute an endorsement of one product over another, nor is discrimination intended against any product.

I’ve got the weed shown here all in my yard, and no one can tell me what it is or how to kill it.

What is this and how do I get rid of it?

Click any photo for full size

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

How to kill prostrate spurge

4 Answers 4

It’s Euphorbia maculata (or a closely related species), commonly known as Prostrate Spurge or Spotted Spurge. More images from Google here.

It forms a tap root, so it’s fairly easy to control by hand; my technique is to find all the branches radiating from one central stem, them grasp the stem just below the branching point and pull straight up. I’ve also found that it responds well to Roundup, if you don’t mind using weedkillers. And just yesterday I used a flame weeder on some, which is extremely effective.

Since it can be confused with Purslane (Portulaca oleracea), here’s a picture of the two of them together for comparison, with the Spurge on the left and Purslane on the right.

How to kill prostrate spurge

The leaves on the Purslane are paddle-shaped, larger and they are clustered together at the end of the stems. On the Spurge, they’re oval in shape and are spaced evenly on the stem. The Spurge’s leaves are a darker green than those of the Purslane, and they can have an even darker spot in the middle, hence the common name of Spotted Spurge.

Another way to distinguish is to break the stem: the Spurge will have a milky white sap (careful, it can irritate your skin) that will bead at the broken end of the stem, while the Purslane will have a green, almost clear sap.

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    To Mulch or Not to Mulch

    I’ve been researching mulches for my garden and yard to keep down the weeds, and I end up doing what I always do when I research such things — nothing.

    The information is always too contradictory. For example, use wood chips, but don’t use wood chips. Wood chips are a good mulch, but so many commercial wood chips are created from old treated woods, such as palettes, which is bad. Cedar chips are good, and since they are acidic, you’d think they would be good for alkaline soil, but when the cedar chips break down, they add to the alkalinity of the soil, which is not good because the soil around here is already too alkaline.

    Weeds are bad, but then, weeds are good, too, since they form a sort of living mulch, covering the bare ground and keeping it from blowing it away. Some people have good luck growing food in weedy soils, others do not. Some people say that yes, weeds are good, so create a weed patch, but keep them out of the garden. Some people say it’s important to keep the ground covered, that bare soil is not a good thing (though I do like the look of plain old dirt), so if nothing else, plant weeds.

    I’d been pulling up the prostrate spurge in my daylily garden, but then it dawned on me that for the most part, the root grows between the plants, so it doesn’t really compete, and at the same time, it branches out to cover the ground. The plants seem to be doing okay, so I’m not really worrying about it.

    I don’t really mind the low-lying weeds or the weeds with pretty flowers, like dandelions, but I do have an issue with weeds that have the potential for growing taller than I am. I finally got rid of the weeds along the alley, and there is another patch of weeds along my fence that I would like to get rid of because they are taller than me and are now going to seed, but I can’t get to them because of the construction rubbish piled in front of them.

    I’d read that pouring vegetable oil over weeds and around their root will kill them without destroying nearby soil. I also read that some flowers crowd out weed, but if I did that, I’d have to make sure those flowers grow, which isn’t always possible. Still, both of these are possibilities. I also have a bucket of cedar wood chips I gathered when a cedar tree stump was ground out, so I can use those somewhere.

    Mostly, I am taking this project one square foot at a time. I figure that the buildings on the property and the rocks around the house as well as the paths will take up about two thirds of my property, but that still leaves a minimum of two thousand square feet of ground to figure out how to cover, whether with grass, bushes, trees, gardens, mulch, wildflowers, or weeds.

    Such a big project! But it’s good to have something major to occupy my time, even if I don’t know what I am doing.

    Luckily, the flowers know what they are doing, so there’s always something pretty for me to look at in my yard.

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

    Updated – August 26, 2020 / Sean Froyd

    If you live anywhere near farming areas, pasture weeds like pigweed are a major problem in the garden – especially if the garden is new. You might notice a red fuzz over the soil in the spring. Upon closer inspection you realize the ground is covered with billions of germinating amaranth seeds…even if a few are allowed to go to seed, they can potentially make millions of more to infest your garden long into the future. So you see why the control of pigweed is so important—we are at war and the weed could be winning…and I’m guessing, since you’re here, it IS winning.

    What is Pigweed?

    Pigweed, a.k.a. redroot amaranth, is a notorious agricultural weed. It is mostly green in color with some reddish streaks on the stems. It is covered with what looks like rough hair. It is grown as a seed crop in some cultures because each plant produces many thousands of seeds, and they’re nutritious.

    Best Methods to Control Pigweed

    Cultivate your garden soil to prevent pigweed seedlings from growing up.

    If you are starting your garden in the spring and there are a million little pigweed seedlings sprouting up, running a tiller over them will destroy almost all of them easily. You can do the same thing more accurately (though, taking more time) with a hoe or a small forked cultivating tool. If the plants are allowed to get bigger it becomes more important to ensure that they are upturned and their roots are exposed else they return to wreak havoc once more.

    Mulch weedy areas to block out available ground for pigweed.

    If your garden is small enough or if you can manage it, mulching between your garden plants is a wonderful way to prevent pigweed from making an appearance. There are lots of options for organic mulches. Composted manure and animal bedding works great, as does bagged grass and leaf clippings from your mower. If you use the clippings, though, be careful if the grass was longer or contained dandelions. It could contain seeds. Composting the seedy mulch for a season will take care of that. Shredded straw bales are another cheap mulch that can help prevent weeds. There are a bunch of wood-based mulches commercially available that can work, but often their purposes are more decorative. Or if you like the news (or hate politicians), you can lay shredded newspaper down.

    Kill the pigweed before it sprouts with plastic.

    This method is technically another type of mulch in that it suffocates the weeds. The first step is to go over the area you want to cover and pick out any sharp rocks or sticks. Then rake it smooth. Decide which areas are going to be your planting areas and which areas will be mulched with plastic. Lay down your drip hose if you are using one. Choose a calm day to lay down your plastic and keep it flush with the ground. Wind tends to muck things up when you’re trying to prevent sun from hitting the pigweed seed. Add rocks to hold it in place as you go. You can also stake the plastic or partially cover it with soil or organic mulch to secure it. Cut out holes for planting areas and you’re set. You can get plastic sheeting from Amazon for just this type of thing.

    Manually remove pigweed plants.

    If it comes down to it and you’ve missed your chance to apply a preemergent herbicide, you didn’t do a very good job of cultivating the soil when the weeds were small, your mulching skills were lacking, or your plastic cover blew away in a windstorm, then I’m afraid you’re just going to have to bend over and pull that weed up with your hands. It’s dirty, but if you’re in a bad mood it tends to be a mentally therapeutic way to kill pigweed. It is especially important that you do this before it goes to seed or you are shooting yourself in the foot for many years to come. Sometimes pigweed can have a deep taproot, so you might need a shovel to dig down and remove that thing—an ax might also be helpful.

    Pigweed Herbicides

    Depending on where you live, some wild pigweeds have been found to be resistant to agricultural herbicides like Roundup and Atrazine. This is a real problem for people who grow crops for a living, as it can affect their ability to make a profit. This isn’t going to make that much of a difference for home gardens because you should be able to use another control method fairly simply. If you still want to use an herbicide, any broad-leaf herbicide should work assuming there is no resistance. One could worry about contributing to the problem of creating more resistant amaranth, but when you consider how many hundred million pounds of herbicides are spread on fields in the Midwest every year, the problem is way beyond the scope of the home user. But there are still natural ways to help control the spread.

    Best Natural Methods to Get Rid of Pigweed

    Cover crops.

    One way to combat weeds like redroot amaranth is to plant a cover crop. There are a lot of plants that can fill that role. The main thing is that they need to be able to grow close to one another and thus choke out all competition. Grains like oats, and greens like lettuce, chard, and spinach will all make a stand against pigweed (with a little help from you).

    Corn gluten.

    Corn gluten is a by-product of corn processing that has been shown to prevent seeds from sprouting. Corn gluten is non-toxic and biodegradable and acts as a preemergent herbicide when applied in the spring. Stock up now and use it later!

    Posted by Casey Henderson , Posted on January 18, 2021

    How to kill prostrate spurge
    Prostrate Spurge ( Euphorbia humistrata) is a summer annual broadleaf weed. It can be found in dry and/or nutrient-poor soils along with compacted, weakened or disturbed turf grass and mulch beds. It appears early near driveways and sidewalks, as temperatures start to get warmer. Prostrate spurge can also be found in cultivated fields, brick walls, and parking lot cracks. It germinates from seed in June and July in Indiana. Spurge spreads with low-growing prostrate stems than form a dense mat as they invade the turf canopy. Its ability to establish and grow in multiple soil/climate conditions and highly compacted soils, as well as its ability to withstand low mowing heights, make prostrate spurge a common turf grass weed throughout the state of Indiana.

    How Do I Know If I Have Spurge

    How to kill prostrate spurge
    The leaves of prostrate spurge are pale green, hairy, egg-shaped, widest at the apex, and located opposite of each other on the stems. Stems which are pinkish in color and distinctly hairy. Prostrate spurge continually flowers from July to September. It produces large quantities of viable seed throughout its life cycle. These flowers are small but numerous. They originate from the base of leaves located on the upper-stem, and are composed of several male and female flowers within a cluster. It produces a fruit that consists of a 3-lobed, 3-seeded capsule with stiff hairs on its surface.

    How Do I Prevent It From Taking Over My Lawn

    Feed your lawn. A well planned lawn application will provide the nutrients your lawn needs to produce dense, green turf. Spotted spurge is not a competitive weed. So a thick lawn will help keep spotted spurge out and prevent weed seeds from sprouting. At Green’s Lawncare And Property Services, we can provide you with a lawn care package that will help keep your lawn thick and healthy all year long.

    Mow high. Mowing at the height best for your lawn type allows the grass to grow thick and develop a deep root system. Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fescues, the cool season grasses we find in our Indiana lawns should be mowed at a height of 3. 5 to 4.5 inches. Instead of bagging grass clippings, leave them on the lawn to help recycle nutrients back into the soil.

    Water deeply. Watering deeply and infrequently helps your lawn crowd out weeds by encouraging deeper root growth and thicker, stronger grass. Watering too little or too frequently encourages shallow root growth. This can lead to a thin lawn and bare spots that weeds will take advantage of. As much as possible, rely on rain (nature’s sprinklers) to water your lawn. And only use sprinklers when needed to achieve the 1 inch of water per week that most lawns need.

    Yes, I said summer! With temperatures in the mid-80’s and dew points approaching 70 degrees, I think it’s safe to say that summer has finally arrived. With the arrival of summer, we also notice that many weeds are starting to show themselves in Minnesota lawns. The late winter (or cold spring…..whatever you want to call it) left many of us scratching our heads wondering if our turf would have a chance to wake up and grow before the weeds took over. There was a very short window to give our turf that “edge” this spring. The edge involves providing a proper growing environment for our species of turf; this means proper fertility, aeration, irrigation, and the many other practices that encourage a healthy lawn. I’m a firm believer in the old adage that a healthy lawn is the best defense to weed invasion, but that doesn’t always go as planned. Still, you have options.

    Step 1: Identify the weed species that you’re trying to control.

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    The distinct growth habit of a mature smooth crabgrass plant. Post-emergent herbicide control is less effective when crabgrass reaches this stage

    Turfgrass weeds can be grouped into two basic categories when discussing control options: grassy weeds and broadleaf weeds. Grassy weeds present the biggest challenge for control in home lawn situations because their growth physiology is similar to that of the turfgrass being grown. Some grassy weeds to look for at this time of year include: the summer annuals- large and smooth crabgrass, winter annual- annual bluegrass, and the perennials- quackgrass and yellow nutsedge.

    If you missed the crabgrass pre-emergent window (which by now has passed in many areas of the state), this grassy weed can still be controlled with selective post-emergent herbicides containing the active ingredients quinclorac or fenoxaprop. Effective crabgrass control is best accomplished when plants are in the juvenile stage, as mature plants are less susceptible to herbicide injury. Turfgrass tolerance to these herbicides is reduced in the heat of the summer.

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    Prostrate spurge is a summer annual commonly found in Minnesota lawns. It can be identified by the milky white sap that appears when the stem is broken

    Broadleaf weeds are much easier to identify and control. Some broadleaf weeds to look for at this time of year include: summer annuals- prostrate knotweed and prostrate spurge, the perennials- dandelion, broadleaf plantain, ground ivy, and white clover.

    For an identification guide to common lawn weeds in Minnesota, visit:

    Step 2: Evaluate control options, whether cultural or chemical. Cultural control involves hand weeding, followed by creating an adequate growing environment for the turf species present. Often times we hear of certain weeds being labeled as ‘indicators’ for poor site conditions. Correcting these site conditions can have a dramatic impact on your weed reduction program. Examples of indicator weeds: low nitrogen situations- clover and black medic, shaded conditions- ground ivy and wild violet.

    Some weeds lend themselves to be pulled readily by hand, especially the bunch-type grasses (ex: tall fescue) or the rosette forming broadleaves (ex: curly dock and broadleaf plantain).

    When all else fails, herbicides might be your best option. So what’s available to you?

    Selective grassy weed herbicides: As previously mentioned, grassy weeds will be the most difficult to control due to lack of effective herbicides. For post-emergent crabgrass and other grassy weed control, fenoxaprop-P-ethyl (Bayer Crabgrass Killer for Cool-Season Lawns) or quinclorac (Bayer All-In-One Weed and Crabgrass Killer, Ortho Weed-B-Gon + Crabgrass Killer, others) are effective for control. Quinclorac will also control some broadleaf weeds such as clover and dandelion.

    Selective broadleaf herbicides: Combination products are available for broadleaf weed control in home lawns and most are very effective. These products generally include two or more of the active ingredients: 2,4-D, dicamba, MCPP, triclopyr, carfentrazone, or sulfentrazone. Follow specific label instructions to target the broadleaf weeds that you are dealing with.

    Non-selective herbicides: Many grassy weeds cannot be controlled selectively in home lawn situations. In this case, the use of non-selective herbicides and re-seeding will be required. Non-selective herbicides available include: glyphosate (Roundup), glufosinate (Finale), and diquat. As with all herbicides, be sure to follow the manufacturers label and recommendations.

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    Prostrate knotweed is a summer annual and the first weed to germinate in the spring. This weed is generally an indicator of compacted soils.

    Step 3: Learn to understand the ‘indicator’ weeds in your lawn. Create the best growing environment possible with proper fertilization, irrigation management, and turfgrass species selection. Remember the six basic requirements for plant growth: air, water, light, nutrients, space, and temperature. Keeping all of these as close to optimum for the turf species in your lawn will be your best defense against weed invasion. You are not alone in this battle, putting in the extra effort to create a healthy lawn from the start will save you from playing catch up down the road. Good luck!

    For more information on weed control options, visit:

    Seeing stars Virginia buttonweed features thickened leaves, hairy stems and white flowers with star-shaped petals. (Photo: PBI-Gordon)

    Fire up the grill and get out all the poolside umbrellas — as of June 20 summer is officially here. With the temperatures climbing, it’s the right time to take a look at some weeds that don’t mind being late to the party. We consulted with three experts: Eric Reasor, Ph.D., research scientist, PBI-Gordon; Todd Lowe, Bayer Green Solutions Team technical service manager for the Florida region; and Dean Mosdell, Ph.D., technical manager, Syngenta Professional Solutions, to discuss spurge and Virginia buttonweed.

    Spotted and prostrate spurge

    Spotted spurge (Chamaesyce maculata L.) and prostrate spurge (Chamaesyce humistrata) are small, low-growing summer annual broadleaf weeds with central taproots and freely branched prostrate, mat-forming stems. “Stems are smooth and hairy, with ‘milky’ sap when broken,” Lowe says. “Spurges are common weeds in weakened turf, especially turf stressed by plant-parasitic nematodes.”

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    Spotting the spurge Spurge appears
    close to sidewalks and driveways and
    in weakened turf. (Photo: Syngenta)

    Seedings may first appear next to driveways and sidewalks in home lawns. “Early applications of preemergence herbicides may only partially control spurge,” Mosdell says. “Split applications of preemergence herbicides like prodiamine will control prostrate spurge, paying close attention to applications next to walkways and driveways. Postemergence herbicides that contain dicamba are effective along with several three- and four-way mixtures. In Bermudagrass, (trifloxysulfuron-sodium) can be an effective tool to control spurge in addition to nutsedge and kyllinga.”

    Lowe advises cultural practices like increasing fertilization and irrigation as well as reducing other stresses to help discourage spurges, and he echoes Mosdell in that multiple applications may be needed to control this pesky weed.

    Virginia buttonweed

    Another late-summer weed is Virginia buttonweed (Diodia virginiana L.), which can be found from New Jersey to Missouri and throughout the southeastern states. Virginia buttonweed has thickened leaves, hairy stems and white flowers with star-shaped petals.

    “(Virginia buttonweed) likes low mowing, so mowing heights are important, and it likes wet conditions,” Reasor says. “It’s really slushy and succulent, which makes it hard to control. Any herbicide you use, the addition of a surfactant will help. It’ll follow the same category of herbicide use as spurge — your traditional three-way herbicides, it’ll take a little more than that. The herbicides that are great on dandelions, clover, plantains, that are relatively easy to kill? Buttonweed is harder to kill and a lot of times, it takes two applications.”

    Reasor suggests fluroxypyr, triclopyr or metsulfuron in cool-season grasses and trifloxysulfuron in warm-season turf. “But again, a big part of controlling buttonweed is in mowing height and irrigation,” he adds.

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    How to kill prostrate spurge

    1 of 2 Gardenia is showing signs of stress, perhaps from an herbicide that drifted onto the leaves. Courtesy photo Show More Show Less

    How to kill prostrate spurge

    2 of 2 Despite its tiny leaves, spurge is considered a broad-leaf weed. Courtesy photo Show More Show Less

    Q: I have a large bed of Asian jasmine I want to remove. What is the best way to take it out?

    A: Let’s assume there were a weedkiller that would kill it in a few days. You would then have a bed filled with dead foliage, drying and brittle stems and roots. You would mow or trim it to get rid of the bulk of it, rototill it to loosen up all the roots, and finally rake the soil to eliminate most of the root system. Frankly, from my experiences, it’s a lot easier to do all that while the bed is still green and alive. I’ve always bypassed that step of trying to spray it.

    Q: I have aphids on the bottoms of my crape myrtle leaves. They are leaving a sticky residue on the leaves. What can I use to spray them? Will they do any damage if I don’t spray?

    A: This late in the season there is no point in spraying. The leaves will begin to drop within a few weeks anyway. Aphids don’t do much harm in the whole scheme of things, but a black sooty mold will grow in the honeydew residue, and that can be unsightly. I use systemic insecticide drenches in June to keep the aphids from getting a start.

    Q: I have planted several gardenias in a bed where we lost a Leyland cypress, I believe from a disease. Now a few lower branches of the gardenias are turning black. I have been careful to water them. Could this be left over from the cypress problems?

    A: The Seiridium canker that kills Leyland cypress does not affect gardenias. Looking at your photo I believe there must be some environmental factor involved. The problem does not appear to be an insect or disease, but more like a spray drift, perhaps from a weedkiller. It is not a nutrient shortage, and it does not give the characteristic symptoms of drought damage. All of which simply says I don’t know for sure. I would recommend giving it the best care you can through spring and see how it responds.

    Q: We are new to Texas from California. We have oak trees that have undergrowth beneath them. Neighbors have told us that the oaks must have the shrubs to survive. Is that the case? (See photos attached.)

    A: That is not an accurate statement. I tried to zoom in on your photos, but they are low resolution and I couldn’t determine what type of oak you might have.

    Post oaks will often have brushy undergrowth (yaupon hollies in many of their native habitats, for example), and since post oaks are very intolerant of human invasion (as in grade changes, water and sewer lines and stepped up watering and fertilizing), they often die almost without warning. It happens a few years after we move in. But removing the shrubs would not cause that to happen.

    Live oaks often have root sprouts that take on a brushy appearance as they develop. They’re part of the mother tree’s root system, and cutting them off would be about the same as trimming off a branch. Do what you need (and want) to do.

    Q: I planted a packet of dwarf okra seeds in my garden in spring. Part of the planting has grown to the expected 4 to 5 feet in height, and it has produced very well. A second patch, however, has grown to be 8 to 10 feet tall, and it has yet to produce a single pod. I think there must be too much nitrogen in the area of the tall plants. Would you agree?

    A: That is certainly one possibility. It may also be that the tall plants are in more shade. That’s one of the quickest ways to encourage tall, vegetative growth on okra. I thought for a moment that your shorter plants might have been stunted by root knot nematodes, but they would also inhibit production of the fruit.

    Prostrate spurge is one of the more difficult broadleaf weeds to control. It is a summer annual that must come from seed each year. Therefore the best control is a thick turf that prevents weed seed germination. Plants that do come up eventually form a mat that tends to smother whatever is underneath. If there are only a few spurge plants, they can be easily pulled up and discarded. However, there are often so many that this is impractical.

    Though young plants (photo above) are much easier to control with herbicides than those that are more mature (photo left), even they have proven difficult to kill. Several years ago K-State Research and Extension conducted a study on the phytotoxic effects of certain herbicides on buffalograss. During the application, we noted the presence of a large number of small prostrate spurge plants. We decided to rate the plots for percent control of spurge. The results were interesting. We found that three herbicides provided more than 90 percent control: Drive, Turflon II Amine and DMC Weed Control.

    Turflon II Amine and DMC Weed Control are no longer on the market. However, metsulfuron, the active ingredient in DMC Weed Control is available under the Manor and Blade trade names. Manor and Blade are labeled for bermudagrass, Kentucky bluegrass and Zoysia. All three currently available herbicides are available only to commercial applicators.

    Two other herbicides in the study, Dimension and Turflon Ester, offered more than 80 percent control and Trimec provided 78 percent. Dimension results were surprising because it is a preemergence herbicide with some postemergence activity that is commonly used for crabgrass control. These herbicides are available to homeowners.

    A new herbicide that has shown promise for spurge is SpeedZone. A recent study has shown SpeedZone to be better than Trimec when each is used at the 1 fluid ounce per 1000 square feet rate. SpeedZone is a combination product that contains 2,4-D, MCPP, Dicamba and Carfentrazone-ethyl. It is labeled for all commonly grown turfgrasses in Kansas except buffalograss. Though labeled for bentgrass, it cannot be used on golf course greens. It is available only to commercial applicators.

    Nuisance of the Week is brought to you in cooperation with the Kansas State University Research & Extension
    Written by Ward Upham, Extension Associate

    Oklahoma is no stranger to many types of weeds. These pesky plants can be a real nuisance, especially for those who have tried different methods to kill them, only to watch them grow back bigger and stronger than ever. Fall can be a nightmare season for gardening because everything is dying down from summer, there seems to be an endless supply of leaves needing to be blown off your yard (if you’re having issues with that, see this list) and weeds are just as annoying! While many weeds don’t pop up until the spring, the best time to treat for them and start your weed control regimen is in the fall and winter months.

    At Acenitec, we recommend starting our six-step lawn care program during the fall to control weeds and get your lawn ready for the winter months ahead. By getting ahead of the game, you can help ensure that you’ll have the prettiest lawn when the weather starts to warm up again.

    We’ve detailed the common types of weeds found in Oklahoma lawns to help you better identify them and know when and how to go about treating them this fall.

    What are Weeds?

    A weed is simply a plant growing where it is not wanted or where it was not intentionally planted. Some weeds can actually be useful or attractive, but most fall under the “bad news” category.

    Weeds are naturally strong and competitive. Those that best adapt in nature tend to dominate over other plant species, competing for water, sunlight, necessary nutrients, and even space. They commonly reproduce and spread through the dispersion of their seeds (whether by nature, animals, or humans), and can pretty much grow anywhere the soil or ground has been disturbed in some way.

    Most weeds have the following common characteristics: abundant seed production, seed dormancy (meaning they do not grow until certain environmental conditions are present), rapid population establishment and spreading, long-term survival of seeds underground, and an ability to occupy spaces that have been disturbed by animals or humans.

    Types of Weeds

    The first step toward clearing these unwanted plants from your lawn is figuring out which type of weed you’re dealing with. Knowing the weeds that commonly grow in your lawn will help you and our Acenitec lawn care specialists treat and eradicate them from your yard more efficiently.

    Unfortunately, there are many types of weeds that commonly grow in the Oklahoma area. If you aren’t sure which weeds are plaguing your otherwise healthy yard, start out by determining if they are grassy weeds or broadleaf weeds.

    Grassy Weeds

    Grassy weeds are plants that can resemble turfgrass, but typically have longer and narrower leaves than traditional blades of grass. They also tend to differ in color and the ways in which they grow. Grassy weeds are usually difficult to control due to their similarities with turfgrass. In fact, many types of grasses that may be considered weeds in one area can be seen as desirable types of grass in another.

    Broadleaf Weeds

    Broadleaf weeds are what most people picture when they think of weeds. They are easily identified and stand out from surrounding turfgrass due to their larger, broader leaves and net-like veins. Unlike turfgrass and grassy weeds that have fibrous root systems, broadleaf weeds grow from taproots, meaning their roots growing vertically downward.

    Is the Weed Annual, Biennial, or Perennial?

    Once you’ve determined if the weeds are grassy or broadleaf, you’ll want to determine if it’s an annual, biennial, or perennial weed to better understand when it grows. Most common weeds fall into one of the following three categories:

    Annuals—Annual weeds germinate each year and typically grow, flower, produce seeds, and die within one year. They spread throughout your lawn by the transfer of their seeds and can come back as long as seeds are present in the soil. Some seeds may be newly introduced to the area by the weed or other factors, while some seeds will lie dormant in the soil until the ideal weather conditions are present and they are able to germinate.

    Biennials—Biennial weeds have a two-year life cycle. In their first year, they will germinate, grow, and usually form a rosette (circular cluster of leaves). In their second year, biennials will produce a stem, flowers, and seeds. Once the weed has fully matured over the two years, it will die.

    Perennials—Perennial weeds can live up to three years or more and will typically return each year. These weeds can reproduce by both seed and creeping stems, either above or below ground, that can re-root wherever they touch the soil. Perennials are the most difficult type of weeds to get rid of because they can regrow from any piece of root that is left behind after removing the plant.

    Like other types of plants, there are weeds that grow best in cool weather and those that prefer warmer weather. Weeds are often classified as either “winter” or “summer” varieties within the three categories of annual, perennial, and biennial.

    Winter Annuals

    Winter annuals germinate in late summer to early fall. They will then grow throughout the fall, winter, and into the early springs months before dying off in the summer. Winter annuals will typically produce and spread their seeds in mid- to late-spring, just before the weather gets extra hot in the summer.

    Common winter annual weeds in Oklahoma:

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    Picking weeds out of your garden is hard enough without dealing with tough and sometimes nearly impossible-to-kill tuberous roots. Tubers grow underground from a weed’s rhizome. The tuber then aids in the propagation of new plants, which can result in exponential growth. Removing new plants as they appear and shading infested areas usually results in effective control of the weed. Herbicides generally do not work as well, although using them may control the weeds somewhat. Yellow and purple nutsedge weeds take the blame as the primary culprits of tuberous weed infestations.

    Begin tilling the weeds immediately after they appear, which is usually in early spring when the soil temperatures reach 54 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Ohio State University. Repeat the tilling every seven days until you notice the weeds no longer attempt to shoot up through the soil. By doing so at such an early time, you’ll attack the weeds when carbohydrate reserves are at their lowest, effectively killing them, Cornell University explains. The process typically takes four to six months.

    Stop tuber production by removing new plants by hand as they appear. if you keep an eye on when new weed plants appear and remove them from the ground, tuber production will suffer because of the weed’s need to produce new plants. You may also use a hoe. If you do so, the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Department advises digging 8 to 14 inches into the ground to ensure entire removal of the plants.

    Deprive the weeds of sun by adding taller plants with compacted foliage to the area or with a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch. Tall plants work best, because the weed will never grow past the shade plants and never get the sun it needs to thrive. With mulch, weeds can still emerge, although mulch on top of polypropylene landscape fabric does a good job of preventing emergence, according to the University of California’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Department. Bark and gravel mulch work best.

    Till the infested area slightly in the summer, allowing the sun to take all water from the soil. Drying the area deprives tubers of moisture, leading to their death in certain types of weeds. Yellow nutsedge is not affected.

    Apply glyphosate or halosufuron to the weeds when they’re still in a growing phase. The chemicals will penetrate the tubers if the plant hasn’t reached maturity. To control the weeds before they emerge, apply dichlobenil in areas with no grass. Never use the chemical on grass, and use it sparingly around your garden plants, as it can damage them in excess. Dichlobenil will not kill tubers permanently; you must reapply it each year.



    The experts on Backyard Farmer and the instructors in the Master Gardener classes always talk about having the “Right Plant in the Right Place. “The Right Plant in the Right Place” means you plan ahead and if you have a particular location you want filled, you select a plant that will be the right height, the right width, and needs the kind of soil you have. You also take into consideration the moisture and sun requirements. Or you start with a particular plant you bought or want to buy and select the location with the right amount of sun, the right amount of moisture, and has the room for the plant to grow to its mature height and width.

    The same approach applies to weeds. We say that a weed is just a plant out of place. (Right now I haven’t found the right place for “Crabgrass” or “Bindweed” but I suppose there is one.) For example, we have “Bromegrass” in the “Back 40” which is 300 feet by 150 feet between my lot line and Antelope Creek. It does not get any water other than rain, and does not get fertilizer. It was very brown during the drought in July and I thought sure it was dead, but when we got a 3 inch rain it greened right up. “Buffalograss” might take a little less mowing and be somewhat better, but would be expensive to replant the whole area now, and would not be green in the early spring or late fall. So for now, the Bromegrass is the right grass in the right place.

    However, when the “Bromegrass” roots cross that imaginary line between the “Back 40” and my vegetable garden, it becomes a weed. I know what this weed is and how to control it. But if you don’t know what your “Plant out of Place” (the weed you don’t like) is in your yard or garden, or how to control it, take a sample (more than one leaf) to a full service garden center that has a certified nursery person or a person trained in weed identification and control. Or take it to your local County Cooperative Extension Educator. Identification of the weed you are trying to kill is important and the first thing you should do.



    Also it is helpful to know the life cycle of the weed. By life cycle I mean is it an annual or a perennial? Does it grow from seed or does it spread from runners, or both? If it produces seeds, when do they mature, and then what time of year do they germinate? Also, can the weed seeds be controlled by a pre-emergence herbicide? Timing in the application of a herbicide is very important and knowing the life cycle of the weed helps us to know what time of year to apply the herbicide, what kind of herbicide to apply, and how often to apply.

    The most common weeds found in our lawns, flower gardens, and vegetable gardens can be grouped as follows:

    · Annual grasses such as Crabgrass ( Digitaria sanguinalis), Annual Bluegrass ( Poa annua), Foxtail ( Setaroa glauca) and Goosegrass ( Eleusine indica).

    · Annual Broadleaf weeds such as Prostrate Spurge ( Euphorbia supina), Spotted Spurge ( Euphorbia maculata), Black Medic ( Medicago lupulina), Pennycress ( Thlaspi arvense), Purslane ( Portulaca oleracea), Henbit ( Lamium amplexicaule) and Common Chickweed ( Stellaria media).

    · Perennial broadleaf weeds such as Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinal), White Clover ( Trifolium repens), and Ground Ivy ( Glechoma microcarpa).

    · Perennial grasses such as Bromegrass ( Bromus inermis), Rough Bluegrass ( Poa trivialis), Tall Fescue ( Festuca arundinacea), Nimblewill ( Muhlenbergia schreberi) and Quackgrass ( Agropyren repens).

    · Perennial sedge such as Yellow Nutsedge. Most people call it “Nutgrass” but it is really a sedge so does not respond to weed killers like a grass.

    Correct identification of the weed is important as use of the wrong weed killer may kill everything or may not kill the weed you want to kill. I have heard some people say that when they applied a specific product it seemed to make the weed grow faster. That may be true, as some weed killers such as 2-4-D are really growth regulators. They work by making plants grow so fast they die, just as too much nitrogen fertilizer on your lawn at the wrong time will burn it and may kill it. So, if you don’t have the right product, on the right plant, you may only encourage the growth of the weed and not kill it .

    Be aware that after identification, and knowing about the life cycle, one herbicide (weed killer or preventer) will not kill or prevent everything we call a weed. And some herbicides are ok for the lawn but should not be used in the vegetable garden. Also some herbicides kill the weeds (post-emergence) and some herbicides prevent the seeds from germinating (pre-emergence).



    Some of the most common herbicides include:

    · Trimec (Earl May Weed Killer, Ortho Weed-Be-Gone, and Ortho Chickweed, Spurge, & Oxalis Killer) is a broadleaf weed killer and will kill Dandelions, Common Chickweed, Black Medic, Purslane, Ground Ivy, and Henbit but will not kill Bluegrass, Turf Type Tall Fescue, Bromegrass, Buffalograss, or Crabgrass. Triclopyr and Clopyralid are also broadleaf weed killers that are effective on most of the above weeds.

    · MSMA (Monosodium methanearsonate) will kill Crabgrass and Yellow Nutsedge (Nutgrass) but will not kill Bluegrass and Turf Type Tall Fescue.

    · Manage will kill Yellow Nutsedge (Nutgrass) but not Crabgrass, Bluegrass, or Fescue.

    · Fluazifop (Acme Grass-No-More, Ortho Grass-B-Gone) will kill many annual grasses and some perennial grasses in your flower bed such as Bluegrass, Tall Fescue, and Quackgrass, but will not kill many flowers such as Iris, Geranium, Daylily, and Peony. Will also not kill many shrubs, trees, cactus, and green fountain grass (ornamental grass) if applied as directed in the instructions.

    · Glyphosate (Kleen-up, Round-up) will kill many green plants including trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses but won’t kill Purslane, Prickly Pear Cactus, and many succulents.