How to Get Rid of Devil Thorns in Grass in 4 Effective Ways

When suggestions on how to get rid of devil thorns in grass are presented season after season, you know it’s serious. Mother nature may be unfair at times.

I was overjoyed when I had just moved into my new home; unlike my previous residence, my new residence had a favorable environment, and I reasoned that it was now my turn to develop my lovely lawn.

That’s when I first came across the devil thorns. Devil thorn grass is widely distributed and goes by many names; most people call it the Goathead, while others call it puncturevine.

I refer to it as “My Adversary.” I was able to get rid of it after battling with it for eight months.

Let me demonstrate how to rid devil thorns from grass.

Short description of devil thorns

How to get rid of goat heads without killing grass

This vexing annual indigenous plant, scientifically called Tribulus Terrestris, has a creeping habit and is widely dispersed, surviving in dry circumstances where few plants can.

Devil thorns are endemic to the Mediterranean region and southern Europe, with USDA plant hardiness zones ranging from 4 to 11.

It has hairy undulate leaves on its many prostrate stems that form a thick mat. The devil thorn is well-known for its vexing seedpods.

These tan, woody, hairy seedpods grow to form four nutlets, each with two long sharp spines resembling a goat’s head, hence the name “Goathead.”

Don’t be deceived by the beautiful trumpet-shaped creamy or fragrant violet blossom it produces; this invasive weed will hurt you like no other.

Devil thorn does not need to be tall to be deadly; it poses more threat when lying on the ground since the spikey fruit is perfectly poised to stab into feet.

It has a remarkable ability to perform well in gravelly soil, thanks to its robust tap roots.

How to get rid of devil thorns in grass

1. Removing by pulling

The greatest natural method for getting rid of Goathead is rolling your sleeves and getting down on your knees.

After battling the devil thorn for several seasons, I can attest that ripping it out is the best approach to get rid of this annoying weed. It’s safe and won’t affect the plants around you.

Before I mastered the ability to remove devil thorns from grass, I assumed mowing would be enough, but I was mistaken. Because the weed is so close to the ground, my mower tires were constantly punctured. As a result, I resorted to the manual method.

When pulling by hand, I recommend you get a heavy-duty glove and start pulling it slowly to ensure you remove the entire taproot. Or consider using a lawn jaw, a highly recommended tool for this job.

Then place the uprooted weed in a plastic bag and discard it. Timing is important if you are considering using this method. You should pull out the weed before it starts seeding. Otherwise, you will be back where you started.

Unfortunately, you can still uproot if they have seeded, but the dropped seedpod will be a nuisance. However, you can easily collect it by rolling a pumpkin around the area.

The seedpods will puncture the pumpkin and then dispose of the pumpkin in a plastic bag or burn it.

2. Removing with weevils

Another natural way is by using special types of weevils. Biocontrol is the ultimate weapon that made my work in eliminating Goathead easier.

There are two types of weevils that, when together, the devil thorn does not stand a chance. The Microlarinus lareynii and Microlarinus lypriformis are known as puncture weevils. The two weevils work best when together.

The Microlarinus lypriformis lays its weed in the stems of the weed, and as it matures, it tunnels through the stems damaging the plant.

At the same time, the Microlarinus lareynii deposits its eggs in the seedpods, the eggs hatch into larvae that eat the seedpod.

Before you get the weevils from biological control supplier, ensure that you have consulted with your local agriculture experts since the weevils may not survive in your region, for instance, in winter areas.

See also: How can you tell crabgrass from dallisgrass?

3. Burning

This method is easier than the laborious pulling method and superior to chemical control for eradicating devil thorns. It works well on larger areas; all you need is a propane torch weeder.

However, with this procedure, you must first check with your local fire department to see if you have met all of the legal requirements, particularly the safety hazard.

Get a competent propane burner and thoroughly wet the grass around the devil thorn to avoid scorching the surrounding area. Choose a calm day to burn the weed, as doing so on a windy day is dangerous. Make certain that you burn the entire plant, including the seed.

See also: Types of grasses with white seed heads

The advantage of this procedure is that it provides immediate gratification, but it does not get the weeds to the roots, so they may reappear the following spring.

See also: Do you have to remove weeds after spraying?

4. Chemical treatment

Goathead can push you to drastic measures, and as lawn amateurs, we normally resort to chemical herbicides as a last resort. However, even with these herbicides, you must get it right to eliminate the devil thorns in the grass.

The battle against the devil-thorns grass can be exhausting because it reappears if you get it incorrectly; nevertheless, herbicides provide a solution.

Pre-emergent Herbicides containing oryzalin or trifluralin are effective in late winter and early spring applications.

Before applying this approach, ensure you have removed any devil thorns from your grass, as the herbicide does not kill existing plants. It simply prevents them from sprouting.

See also: How do you reverse herbicide damage?

See also: Homemade grass killer for grass along fence line

I’m not going to lie to you; getting rid of Goathead on your lawn is not going to be easy; even the most determined and resourceful gardener breaks a sweat when faced with it.

But all hope is not lost; now that you know how to get rid of devil thorns in the grass, let’s get to work.

Don’t let painful bursts discourage your kids from playing on the grass you’ve worked so hard to maintain green and luscious.


  • Ricky

    Hi, I’m Ricky. I’ve been involved in lawn care and landscaping from when I was 15. To be honest, I didn’t like the idea of pushing mowers, collecting grass clippings, and maintaining flowerbeds at the time. But having seem the passion my parents had for gardening and outdoors and the effort they put in maintaining the health and beauty of our landscape, I couldn’t help but not only admire their hard work but also I became a part of it. As someone who loves to spend time with nature’s best, I find myself learning a lot more about gardening and outdoors on a daily basis. Not to mention I love to share the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years with my readers at We Mow Dallas. To be clear, I don’t have a Master’s degree in gardening or anything like that. Everything I’ve learned about gardening, landscaping, and lawn care spring from passion and engagement with my parents. And with a ton of free information out there, plus the ability to run tests and determine what works best for lawn care and landscaping, every day is an opportunity to learn and implement something new. My goal with We Mow Dallas is to teach you exactly how to maintain your lawn and landscape. And since I walk the talk in reality, you shouldn’t hesitate to join me in this wonderful world of landscaping and lawn care. K Beatrice

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