Home>Gardening Tips and Tricks>Problem Solving>How To Get Rid Of Prickly Weeds In Lawn

How To Get Rid Of Prickly Weeds In Lawn How To Get Rid Of Prickly Weeds In Lawn

Problem Solving

How To Get Rid Of Prickly Weeds In Lawn

Written by: Aindrea Berry

Discover effective solutions for problem solving and removing prickly weeds from your lawn with our expert guide. Say goodbye to pesky weeds and hello to a healthy, beautiful garden.

(Many of the links in this article redirect to a specific reviewed product. Your purchase of these products through affiliate links helps to generate commission for Chicagolandgardening.com, at no extra cost. Learn more)

Table of Contents


Welcome to our comprehensive guide on how to get rid of prickly weeds in your lawn. Prickly weeds can be a nuisance, often causing discomfort and frustration for homeowners. They can spoil the beauty of your lawn and make it difficult to enjoy outdoor activities. But fear not! With the right knowledge and techniques, you can effectively eliminate prickly weeds and restore the health and beauty of your lawn.

Prickly weeds are a common problem in lawns due to their ability to spread quickly and withstand harsh conditions. They have sharp thorns or spines that can prick and irritate the skin. Some common types of prickly weeds include thistles, burdock, and prickly lettuce. These weeds not only detract from the visual appeal of your lawn, but they can also compete with grass for essential nutrients, water, and sunlight.

Identifying and understanding the different types of prickly weeds is key to implementing an effective weed removal strategy. Each type of weed may require a different approach for eradication. Additionally, it is important to assess the impact of prickly weeds on your lawn. If left unchecked, they can quickly take over and choke out the healthy grass, leading to a patchy and unsightly lawn.

In this article, we will explore various methods for getting rid of prickly weeds, including manual removal, chemical weed control, and natural/organic solutions. We will also discuss preventative measures to keep prickly weeds from returning in the future. Whether you are dealing with a few prickly weeds or a lawn overrun by these pesky plants, we’ve got you covered!

So, roll up your sleeves and get ready to reclaim your lawn from prickly invaders. Let’s dive into the world of weed removal and learn how to restore the tranquility and beauty of your outdoor oasis.


Understanding Prickly Weeds

Before we delve into the methods of getting rid of prickly weeds, it is important to develop a clear understanding of these troublesome plants. Prickly weeds are characterized by their thorns or spines, which can cause irritation and discomfort if they come in contact with the skin. These weeds can also have deep-reaching root systems, making them resilient and difficult to eliminate.

One common type of prickly weed is the thistle. Thistles are notorious for their prickly leaves and spiky flower heads. They can quickly spread and take over a lawn if not properly controlled. Another prickly weed to watch out for is burdock. Burdock plants have large, heart-shaped leaves and burrs that easily cling to clothing and animal fur. Prickly lettuce is yet another type of weed with spiny leaves that can cause irritation.

Understanding the life cycle and growth habits of prickly weeds is essential in developing an effective weed elimination plan. Prickly weeds often thrive in disturbed or nutrient-depleted soil. They can take advantage of bare spots in your lawn, competing with grass for essential resources such as water, sunlight, and nutrients. Learning to identify these weeds in their early stages of growth is key to preventing them from spreading.

Prickly weeds reproduce through various means, including seeds and underground rhizomes or roots. These reproductive strategies make them resilient and capable of regrowth even after removal. Therefore, addressing the entire weed plant, including its roots, is crucial to prevent future growth.

It is also important to be aware of any potential health hazards associated with prickly weeds. Some individuals may be allergic to certain weed species, leading to skin rashes or respiratory issues. If you have a known allergy or sensitivity, take appropriate precautions when handling prickly weeds or consider seeking professional help for weed removal.

By understanding the characteristics and growth patterns of prickly weeds, you will be better equipped to tackle them effectively. In the following sections, we will explore various methods to remove these prickly invaders from your lawn and restore its beauty.


Identifying Different Types of Prickly Weeds

When it comes to combating prickly weeds, knowledge is power. Being able to identify different types of prickly weeds will help you develop targeted strategies for removal. Here are some common prickly weeds that you may encounter in your lawn:

  1. Thistles: Thistles are one of the most prevalent and recognizable prickly weeds. They have spiky leaves and purple or pink flower heads. Common varieties include the Canada thistle and the bull thistle.
  2. Burdock: Burdock plants are known for their large, heart-shaped leaves and burrs that easily stick to clothing and animal fur. These prickly weeds can quickly take over a lawn if not controlled.
  3. Prickly Lettuce: Prickly lettuce, also known as wild lettuce, is another type of prickly weed with spiny leaves that can cause irritation. It can grow tall with yellow flowers and spreads through wind-dispersed seeds.
  4. Puncturevine: Puncturevine, also called goathead weed, is a common prickly weed that forms small yellow flowers followed by spiky seed pods. They can be particularly problematic in areas with foot traffic or recreational activities.
  5. Blackberry Bushes: Although not technically considered a weed, blackberry bushes can be invasive and have thorny canes that can cause discomfort. These prickly plants can quickly spread and take over a lawn if not properly managed.

Identifying these different types of prickly weeds will help you determine the best approach for removal. Some weeds, like thistles or burdock, may have deep taproots that require careful digging or herbicide application. Others, like prickly lettuce or puncturevine, may be better controlled through regular mowing, hand-pulling, or targeted herbicide treatment.

When identifying prickly weeds, pay attention to their growth habit, leaf shape, flower color, and spiny or prickly characteristics. It is helpful to consult weed identification resources or seek assistance from local horticultural experts if you are unsure about a particular weed species.

Remember, proper identification is the first step towards effective weed management. By being able to identify different types of prickly weeds, you can develop a targeted approach to remove them from your lawn and prevent their re-establishment.


Assessing the Impact of Prickly Weeds on Your Lawn

Prickly weeds not only detract from the aesthetics of your lawn, but they can also have a negative impact on its overall health and vitality. Assessing the extent of this impact is essential in determining the urgency and approach for weed removal. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the impact of prickly weeds on your lawn:

Competition for Resources: Prickly weeds compete with your grass for essential resources such as water, sunlight, and nutrients. They can quickly take over bare or thin areas of your lawn, leaving little room for grass to thrive. This competition can result in patchy, sparse, or weakened grass growth.

Root System Damage: Some prickly weeds, like thistles or burdock, have deep-reaching taproots that can penetrate the soil and disrupt the root systems of nearby plants, including your grass. This can impede water and nutrient absorption, further compromising the health of your lawn.

Allergenic Reactions: Certain individuals may be allergic to specific types of prickly weeds, leading to skin rashes, respiratory issues, or allergic reactions. If you or someone in your household has a known allergy, it is important to address these weeds to minimize the risk of exposure and discomfort.

Invasive Spreading: Prickly weeds have a remarkable ability to spread and reproduce, both through seeds and underground rhizomes or roots. If left uncontrolled, these weeds can quickly multiply and overtake your lawn, making weed removal more challenging and time-consuming.

Impact on Other Plants: Prickly weeds can also invade and harm other desirable plants in your garden or landscape. Their aggressive nature can smother and inhibit the growth of flowers, shrubs, and even trees. It is essential to address these weeds to protect the overall health and diversity of your outdoor space.

By assessing the impact of prickly weeds on your lawn, you can gauge the severity of the problem and develop an appropriate plan of action. If the weed infestation is minimal and localized, manual removal methods may be sufficient. However, if the infestation is widespread or persistent, a combination of manual and chemical control methods may be necessary to effectively restore the health and beauty of your lawn.

Remember, early intervention is key to preventing further damage and minimizing the time and effort required for weed removal. Now that we have assessed the impact of prickly weeds, let’s explore the different methods you can use to take back control of your lawn.


Preparing for Weed Removal

Before diving into the process of removing prickly weeds from your lawn, it is important to take some preparatory steps to ensure the most effective results. Proper preparation will help streamline the weed removal process and increase the chances of success. Here are some essential tasks to consider when preparing for weed removal:

Equip Yourself: Gather the necessary tools and equipment for weed removal. This may include gloves to protect your hands, a sturdy garden trowel for digging out weeds, a weed puller or weeder for extracting deep-rooted weeds, and a sharp pair of pruning shears for cutting back overgrown vegetation.

Select the Right Time: Choose the optimal time for weed removal. Ideally, it is best to tackle prickly weeds when they are actively growing. The plants will be healthier, making it easier to remove them, and they will be less likely to reestablish themselves. Additionally, try to choose a day when the soil is moist but not waterlogged to make the removal process smoother.

Mow Your Lawn: Before starting the weed removal process, mow your lawn to a suitable height. Trimming the grass will help you see the prickly weeds more clearly and prevent any interference while removing them. Additionally, mowing will stimulate the growth of the remaining grass, improving its overall health.

Mark Problem Areas: Take note of specific areas in your lawn that are heavily infested with prickly weeds. This will help you track your progress and focus your efforts on the most problematic areas. Consider using small stakes or brightly colored ribbons to mark these zones.

Clear the Area: Remove any obstacles or debris that may hinder your ability to access and remove the prickly weeds. This includes fallen branches, rocks, and other objects that may impede your progress or cause injury during the removal process.

Consider Protective Measures: If you are sensitive to prickly weeds or plan to use chemicals for weed control, take appropriate protective measures. This may include wearing long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes to minimize direct contact with the plants. Additionally, use protective eyewear and a dust mask when handling chemicals to prevent inhalation or eye irritation.

Dispose of Weeds Properly: After removing the prickly weeds, make sure to dispose of them properly. Place them in a designated garden waste bag or compost pile, or double-bag them for disposal in the trash. Avoid tossing the weeds in open areas where their seeds or roots can propagate and cause further infestation.

By taking these preparation steps, you will set the stage for successful weed removal. Remember, thorough preparation will save you time and effort in the long run and increase the chances of effectively eliminating prickly weeds from your lawn. Now that you are prepared, let’s explore the various methods of weed removal you can employ to regain control of your outdoor space.


Manual Removal Methods

Manual removal methods are an effective way to tackle prickly weeds, especially when dealing with a small infestation or individual plants. These methods involve physically removing the weeds from the ground, ensuring that both the aboveground parts and the roots are completely eliminated. Here are some manual removal techniques you can employ:

Hand-Pulling: For smaller weeds or those with shallow roots, hand-pulling can be an effective method. Start by loosening the soil around the weed using a garden trowel or weeding tool. Grasp the weed as close to the ground as possible and firmly pull upwards, ensuring that the entire weed, including the root, is removed. It is important to be thorough, as leaving any part of the root behind may lead to regrowth.

Digging: For larger and deep-rooted weeds, such as thistles or burdock, digging may be necessary. Use a sturdy garden trowel or fork to dig around the weed, loosening the soil and exposing the root system. Be careful to dig deep enough to remove the entire root. Once the roots are exposed, gently lift the weed out of the ground, shaking off any excess soil. Dispose of the weed properly to prevent reestablishment.

Weed Pullers: Weed pullers, also known as weed extractors or weed removers, are specialized tools designed to remove weeds by grasping and extracting the roots. These tools typically have a long handle and a claw-like mechanism at the end. To use a weed puller, position the claw over the weed and push it into the ground, ensuring the claws penetrate deep enough to grasp the roots. Apply upward pressure to pull the entire weed, roots and all, out of the ground. Weed pullers are especially useful for removing stubborn weeds with taproots.

Pruning or Cutting: In some instances, pruning or cutting the aboveground parts of the weed may be necessary before or after removing the roots. This is particularly applicable to prickly weeds with thorny or spiky foliage. Use sharp pruning shears or handheld trimmers to cut back the foliage, taking care to avoid direct contact with the prickly parts. Once the aboveground parts are trimmed, proceed with the root removal methods mentioned above.

Revisit and Monitor: It’s important to revisit the area periodically to check for regrowth or any missed weeds. Prickly weeds can be persistent, and new plants may emerge from seeds or missed root remnants. Regularly monitoring and removing any new growth will help prevent the reestablishment of prickly weeds in your lawn.

Manual removal methods may be time-consuming, especially for larger infestations, but they can be highly effective when executed properly. When using these methods, it is crucial to ensure that the entire weed, including roots and all, is removed to prevent regrowth. Now that you are equipped with manual removal techniques, let’s explore other methods, including chemical and natural approaches, to effectively combat prickly weeds.


Chemical Weed Control

Chemical weed control methods can be an effective solution for larger infestations or persistent prickly weeds that are difficult to remove manually. These methods involve the use of herbicides to target and eliminate the weeds. It is important to note that the use of chemical herbicides should be done carefully and according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Here are some key considerations and approaches for chemical weed control:

Selecting the Right Herbicide: When choosing a herbicide for prickly weed control, you need to select one that targets the specific type of weeds you are dealing with. Look for herbicides labeled for broadleaf weed control, as prickly weeds like thistles and burdock fall into this category. Read the product labels carefully to ensure it is appropriate for use on your lawn and follow the application instructions and safety precautions.

Pre-emergent Herbicides: Pre-emergent herbicides are applied to the soil before weed seeds germinate. They create a barrier that prevents weed seedlings from developing roots and establishing themselves. These herbicides can be effective in preventing future prickly weed infestations. Apply pre-emergent herbicides according to the manufacturer’s instructions, typically in early spring or late fall, to coincide with the weed’s germination period.

Post-emergent Herbicides: Post-emergent herbicides are applied to established weeds. They are designed to kill the weeds by either targeting the foliage or being absorbed and translocated through the plant’s vascular system to the roots. Selective herbicides only target specific types of weeds, while non-selective herbicides will kill any plant they come in contact with. When using post-emergent herbicides, take care to only spray the targeted prickly weeds and avoid contact with desirable plants.

Application Techniques: Proper application techniques are crucial for the effective and safe use of chemical herbicides. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer, including the recommended dosage, dilution rate, and timing. Apply the herbicide on a calm day to minimize drift and avoid application during windy conditions. Take care to spray evenly and thoroughly cover the foliage of the targeted weeds. Consider using a sprayer with a shield or a paintbrush for precise application in sensitive or tight areas.

Follow-up Care: After applying herbicides, it is important to provide follow-up care to ensure effective control and minimize potential damage to desirable plants. Follow any specific instructions provided with the herbicide, such as avoiding mowing or watering for a certain period. In the case of perennial weeds, multiple herbicide applications may be necessary to fully eliminate the weed. Monitor the treated area and reapply herbicides as needed to address any regrowth or new weed emergence.

Safety Precautions: When using chemical herbicides, always prioritize safety. Wear protective clothing, including gloves, long sleeves, pants, and eye protection, to minimize exposure to the herbicide. Keep children and pets away from treated areas until the herbicide has dried or as recommended by the product label. Follow proper storage and disposal procedures for herbicides to prevent environmental contamination.

Chemical weed control can be an effective tool in managing prickly weeds when used responsibly and in accordance with the labeled instructions. If you are unsure about using herbicides or have a large-scale weed problem, consider consulting with a professional lawn care service for guidance and assistance. Now that we have explored chemical weed control methods, let’s discuss natural and organic alternatives for those seeking environmentally friendly options for weed management.


Natural and Organic Weed Control

For those who prefer to avoid the use of chemical herbicides, natural and organic weed control methods provide effective alternatives to manage prickly weeds in a more environmentally friendly way. These methods focus on using organic substances and practices to suppress weed growth and promote a healthy lawn. Here are some natural and organic weed control techniques you can consider:

Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips, straw, or shredded leaves, can help suppress weed growth. Mulch acts as a barrier, preventing weed seeds from germinating and blocking sunlight from reaching existing weeds. Apply mulch to a depth of 2-3 inches around plants, making sure not to bury the base of the plant. Regularly replenish the mulch as needed to maintain its effectiveness.

Hand-Hoeing: Hand-hoeing involves using a garden hoe to manually sever the weeds at soil level. This method is particularly effective for shallow-rooted weeds. When hand-hoeing, chop weeds just below the soil surface to prevent regrowth. Take care to avoid disturbing the surrounding grass and desirable plants.

Vinegar Solutions: Vinegar can be an effective natural herbicide when used in concentrated form. Spray or pour white vinegar directly onto the foliage of the prickly weeds, making sure to saturate the leaves. The acetic acid in vinegar helps to scorch and kill the weeds. Take caution when applying vinegar, as it can also harm desirable plants, so be careful to only target the weeds directly.

Boiling Water: Boiling water is a simple and natural way to kill weeds. Carefully pour boiling water onto the weeds, making sure to saturate the foliage and root zone. The intense heat will kill the weeds on contact. Take care to avoid pouring boiling water on desirable plants or grass, as it can cause damage.

Corn Gluten Meal: Corn gluten meal, a byproduct of corn processing, can serve as a natural pre-emergent herbicide. It works by preventing weed seeds from germinating. Apply corn gluten meal to your lawn in early spring or fall, following the product instructions for proper application. Note that corn gluten meal will also prevent grass seeds from germinating, so it is not suitable for use when overseeding a lawn.

Proper Lawn Care Practices: Maintaining a healthy lawn through proper care practices is an effective way to suppress weed growth. This includes regularly mowing the lawn at the appropriate height, watering deeply but infrequently to encourage deep root growth of grass, and aerating the soil to alleviate compaction. A healthy lawn will have strong grass growth, which can help prevent the establishment of prickly weeds.

Manual Weed Removal: Regularly inspect your lawn for new weed growth and manually remove the weeds by hand. Be sure to remove the entire plant, including roots, to prevent regrowth. This method requires diligence and consistency to stay on top of weed growth.

While natural and organic weed control methods may require more effort and patience compared to chemical alternatives, they offer a safer and more environmentally friendly approach. It is important to note that these methods may be more effective for smaller weed infestations or as part of an integrated weed management plan. By incorporating these natural and organic practices into your lawn care routine, you can effectively manage prickly weeds while maintaining a healthy and sustainable lawn.


Preventing Prickly Weeds in the Future

Prevention is always the best approach when it comes to managing prickly weeds. By implementing proactive measures, you can significantly reduce the likelihood of weed infestations and maintain a healthy, weed-free lawn. Here are some tips to help prevent prickly weeds from taking hold in the future:

Maintain a Healthy Lawn: A thick and healthy lawn is the first line of defense against weeds. Follow proper lawn care practices such as regular mowing, appropriate watering, and timely fertilization. A well-maintained lawn creates unfavorable conditions for weed growth, as dense grass blades shade the soil, preventing weed seeds from germinating and establishing.

Proper Watering: Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth of your grass. This helps your lawn develop a strong and robust root system that can outcompete weeds for water and nutrients. Avoid shallow and frequent watering, as this can promote weed growth and weaken the grass.

Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch around garden beds and tree bases to suppress weed growth. Mulch helps conserve soil moisture, prevents weed seeds from germinating, and reduces competition from weeds for sunlight and nutrients.

Regular Inspections: Regularly inspect your lawn and garden areas for any signs of early weed growth. Addressing them promptly will prevent the weeds from establishing and spreading. Use hand-pulling or targeted spot treatments to eliminate them before they become a larger problem.

Landscape Fabric or Weed Barrier: Use landscape fabric or weed barriers in garden beds to prevent weed seeds from coming into contact with the soil. This physical barrier inhibits weed growth while still allowing water, air, and nutrients to reach your plants. It is essential to properly install and maintain the fabric to ensure its effectiveness.

Proper Soil Preparation: Before planting or establishing new lawns, ensure proper soil preparation by removing existing weeds, loosening the soil, and improving its fertility. This helps reduce the available weed seeds in the soil and provides a favorable environment for healthy grass or desired plants.

Regular Maintenance: Regularly mow your lawn at the appropriate height for your grass type. Cutting the grass too short can weaken it, allowing weeds to invade. Additionally, remove any lawn debris or fallen leaves promptly, as these can create a conducive environment for weed growth.

Practice Crop Rotation: If you have a vegetable garden or annual flowerbeds, practice crop rotation each year. This helps interrupt weed life cycles and reduce the buildup of weed seeds in the soil. By rotating crops, you discourage specific weed species from becoming established and keep their populations in check.

Monitor and Manage: Lastly, stay vigilant and be proactive in managing potential weed problems. Regularly monitor your lawn and garden areas for any signs of weed growth. If you do spot weeds, take immediate action to remove them before they can spread and take hold.

By implementing these preventive measures, you can create an inhospitable environment for prickly weeds and reduce the need for reactive weed control methods in the future. Remember, early intervention and consistent maintenance are key to preventing weed infestations and maintaining a healthy and beautiful lawn or garden.



Congratulations! You are now armed with the knowledge and strategies to combat prickly weeds and reclaim the beauty and health of your lawn. Prickly weeds can be a persistent and frustrating problem, but with the right approach, they can be effectively managed and prevented.

We started by understanding the characteristics and impact of prickly weeds on your lawn. Identifying different types of prickly weeds and assessing their extent of infestation helped in developing targeted removal strategies. From manual removal methods to chemical herbicides and natural alternatives, we explored various approaches to eliminating prickly weeds based on your preferences and the scale of the problem.

We learned the importance of proper preparation, equipping ourselves with the necessary tools, and selecting the right time for weed removal. Whether it was hand-pulling, digging, or using specialized weed pullers, manual removal techniques proved effective for smaller infestations. Chemical herbicides offered a more aggressive approach for larger infestations, while natural and organic methods provided environmentally friendly alternatives for those concerned about chemical use.

Additionally, we discovered the significance of preventative measures. Maintaining a healthy lawn through proper care practices, using mulch, regular inspections, and early weed removal are all essential for preventing prickly weeds from taking hold in the first place.

Remember, effective weed management requires diligence and consistency. Regularly monitor your lawn, address weed growth promptly, and practice good lawn care habits to reduce the chances of weed infestations. By being proactive and implementing preventive measures, you can keep prickly weeds at bay and enjoy a lush, green, and weed-free lawn.

We hope this comprehensive guide has equipped you with the information and strategies to successfully tackle prickly weeds. Remember to always follow safety precautions when using chemicals and to dispose of weeds properly. If you have a large-scale infestation or are uncertain about the best course of action, it is wise to consult with a professional lawn care service.

Now, armed with your newfound knowledge, go forth and reclaim your lawn from prickly invaders. Enjoy the satisfaction of a weed-free and beautiful outdoor space for years to come!

Related Post