Introduction: How to Kill Sand Spurs

Picture of How to Kill Sand Spurs

If you live in Florida, especially near the beach, then you know how easily sand spurs can find places to grow, in sidewalk cracks or in children's play areas.

In their more benevolent living form the spurs are intended by mother nature merely to allow the offspring to hitch a ride. After death when their dried up husks fall to the ground the spurs are especially worrisome since they may become contaminated with animal feces and e-coli that can be introduced beneath the skin and into the blood stream. Serious and unwanted infection can result in addition to the pain.

Best to vent your anger at the sand spur plant and its offspring for your child being stabbed rather than at your child or another human being. This is best accomplished by dealing with the spurs while they are alive and still attached to the plant.

Step 1: The Tools

Picture of The Tools

You will need the following tools:

Needed for all methods:

1.) good pair of garden gloves (rose checker gloves work best)
2.) pair of garden scissors
3.) brown paper bag

Also needed per method that is selected:

Method I

4.) Box of Borax

Method II

4.) charcoal starter
5.) 100' to 300' outdoor extention cord

Method III

4.) Dutch hoe

Step 2: The Contenders

Picture of The Contenders

Method I

WARNING: This method will also kill everything else in the area and render the soil infertile.


Info-commercial advertizement...

BORAX, OR SODIUM TETRABORATE, - is a combination of sodium, boron and oxygen, and is mined from the soil in its crude form. Boric acid is a crystalline material derived from borax. Caution: Remember, boric acid and all boron products can act as a stomach poison when ingested. While 20 Mule Team Borax is extremely effective in controlling or eliminating ants, termites, weeds, lice, fleas, spiders and roaches, the Dial Corporation notes, "This product has not been tested nor received approval from the EPA for use as a 27 pesticide." Even so if you mop or spray the floors, voids, sill boxes, tunnels, backs of furniture, appliances and other areas where you see insect pests with borax - you will be surprised on how great the material controls virtually all pests. It has been used for years to make cellulose insulation insect free and fire retardant. It also is great for removing stains in carpeting and/or odors in urinals, etc. - so mop to remove odors and to help clean - in doing so you will also control pests "accidentally."

Method II

Charcoal starter

Basically an electric heating element capable of producing temperatures in excess of 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Be careful and do not get burned.

Method III

Scuffle hoe

One loose blade that cuts the roots when raked to and fro beneath the plant and soil.

Step 3: The Keys to Method I

Picture of The Keys to Method I

First use your scissors to remove the spurs from the plant and put them in a bag.

Key #1: Borax concentration

Using just a sprinkle of Borax may actually have the reverse effect and cause the sand spur plant to thank you by making even more luxurious spurs.

The key is NOT to sprinkle just a little Borax but to pour Borax at the base of the plant.

Key #2: Method of application

Work it into the soil with a pointy object.

Now pour a little water over the Borax at the base of the plant - just enough to encourage absorption by the roots - not too much but just enough that the Borax soaks in.

Step 4: Method II

Picture of Method II

First use your scissors to remove the spurs from the plant and put them in a bag.

Lay the element on the plant and then plug in the cord. When the plant is incinerated unplug the cord and find the next plant. Repeat until all plants within the radius of the extension cord have gone up in smoke.

Step 5: Method III

Picture of Method III

First use your scissors to remove the spurs from the plant and put them in a bag.

The if the plant is rooted in sand or soil you can use a scuffle hoe to cut the roots. Put the cut plant into the bag with the spurs and find the next plant. Be prepared to repeat this method each and every week.

If the plant is rooted in rocky crevices or cracks then revert to using Method I or Method II.

Step 6: Disposal

Picture of Disposal

If you have any thirst for revenge allow your thirst to be satisfied in this step rather than venting it on another human being.

(Be sure you still have on your gloves!)

Remove the little green monsters from the bag, along with their mommy plants, if Method III was used.

Think of all the pain and risk of infection the offspring spurs and mommy plant cause.

Now beat the spurs flat with a ball pean hammer and then nuke them along with their mommy plants (if any) in the microwave or fry them in a skillet on the stove or roast them in a roasting pan in a hot oven!


Now take pride and satisfaction in knowing that you have protected others from experiencing the same torment and pain suffered by you or your child and that the parent plant has likewise paid (or will pay soon, if Method I was used) for the wrongful deeds of its offspring that produced such painful and highly infectable wounds while pretending that it was just trying to hitch a ride.




CarolynP47 (author)2017-05-10

Sand spurs

CarolynP47 (author)CarolynP472017-05-10

We have sand spurs in our this year for the first time. The only place i have ever seen them is at the beach. Wonder how they got way up here from the beach? Hillsborough, nc

txoutback (author)8bit2014-10-19

I love this video, and all of Eat The Weeds, really.

The sad thing is it takes way more energy to harvest and cook them than they provide.

Sand spurs are causing me a huge misery... I have ACRES of them on my homestead... ACRES OF SANDSPURS UP TO YOUR WAIST.

I've fenced off the living area and try to maintain it by hand without harming the other grasses or my chickens (i.e. no chemicals)...Some days it causes me great despair.

In 2014 so far I've pulled up enough to fill about twenty full-size 40-gallon trash cans just to keep the living space clear of em! My forearms, knees, fingers and back have all adapted over time to doing this specific kind of miserable work.If only I could put this much time into more pleasing things like my garden.

ned103 (author)2013-10-13

I'm not sure if anyone is still following this post or not. But I recently learned that adding lime to your soil will kill the sandspurs. They don't like sweet soil. Lime is good to add to your grass anyway. I just pull my sandspurs, root and all, as I see them. I have very few in my sandy dirt Florida lawn. I also have 3 or 4 different kinds of grass growing. St. Augustine/Floratam, Bahia and centipede. the latter is my favorite since it grows out not up and is accustomed to the sandy dirt. Well, hope this helps some.

Rocck (author)ned1032014-02-10

ned103, I have to do the same thing ... just pull them out roots and all! I carry around with me a 5 gallon bucket on the hunt for these pesky weeds! Your advice to apply lime sounds effective and affordable! Will give it a go! Thanks again!

jadurham5 (author)2013-10-19

All I can tell you is how to pick them off your shoes without hurting yourself. My mom, God rest her soul, and I dearly miss, found that if you lick your fingers before you pick them, they won't hurt!

Rocck (author)jadurham52014-02-10

Thanks jadurham5! What a great tip from your mom! I have to pull these weeds by hand every year and will certainly remember your mom's advice!

camicamirobot (author)2008-08-11

where do I find a dutch hoe in Florida?

try the corner near the boarder of orlando... i think i saw some there. or maybe they were swedish.. well either way foriegn prostitutes are great

fegundez1 (author)camicamirobot2010-02-20

home depot

static (author)camicamirobot2008-08-31

Generally this can be found as most garden centers, hardware or farm supply stores.

AKA as as scuffle or stirrup hoe.

Brainchigger1 (author)2009-08-05

I use a collapsible 24' x 4' x4' chicken wire pen. Plain wire loosely rapped at the corners allow it to be fold and moved into hard to reach corners or set in various weedy spots, like right up to the flower beds. My three white Peking Geese do the rest. Two things to keep in mind. They need water ( 5gal bucket ), and some shade if it is going to be a hot sunny day. What they don't eat, they walk it down. and no plant likes that, and that will kill most of them. Resist the temptation to feed them, as this will offset the natural " find it and eat it ". You can tell when they are finished eating all their going to eat. Time to move on. After you move the " corral " to it's new location, wash all that natural fertilizer into the soil, and pull up or remove what they wouldn't eat. If you don't have geese, ducks will do ( use water pan ) or chickens ( requires top ). Ducks and geese are easy to train to the corral. Chickens need to be baited in. I have used this method for so many years, I can't remember when. Good luck to everyone.

albylovesscience (author)2009-08-02

thoes friggin hurt

M4industries (author)2009-07-01

Where in FL do you live because I live in Jacksonville!

static (author)2007-08-15

Anyone have any experience in using preemergent chemical to control sand burrs? Here in Western Kansas dry land growing anything that will choke them out is a pipe dream. Other water sources are too precious to use for irrigation for this purpose. I heat that geese are death on them, but that would mean fencing to keep the geese out of what I don't want them uprooting. Thanks...

maker12 (author)static2007-12-31

plse put away th DDT.

Derin (author)maker122008-08-20

:P *dumps 55 gal drumful of ddt on maker12*

maker12 (author)Derin2008-10-21

xd *dumps 90 gal drum of sticky polymer on Derinsleep*

Derin (author)maker122008-10-08

daily discussion topic?

smarterthanu (author)static2007-08-15

Depending on the total size of the area you want to control a movable fence enclosing a smaller manageable area may work out very well with geese. Borax over large area and in high concentration will however render the soil permanently infertile and is suitable in high concentration only for small crevices and cracks. Other chemicals may likewise not differentiate and be unsuitable as well.

Derin (author)2008-08-20

I used to get lots of sand spurs at school,but since I had thick clothing,they would never penetrate the skin

chuckr44 (author)2008-05-21

Pouring boiling water also does a good job of killing the roots. And it does not leave a toxic residue, and it only affects a localized area, say 8 inches in diameter.

dchall8 (author)2007-07-28

I'm an organic gardener so I'm going to suggest an organic solution. Around here we get the same plant. It is a symptom of poor soil - hence the name SAND spurs. Sand makes a poor soil until it gets some fertility into it. This plant is easily choked out by healthy grass, for instance the St Augustine grown all across the south. If you simply cover the sand spurs with flats of St Augustine grass and fertilize the grass with an organic fertilizer, the sand spurs usually will not return. Even if you don't do anything to pick up the existing spurs (seeds), the seeds have a lot of trouble sprouting in the shade of the grass. This remedy does depend on keeping the St Augustine well watered and tall. Periodic applications of organic fertilizer will keep the grass and soil healthy enough to keep the sand spurs out. Never use commercial fungicides, including baking soda, any sulfur or sulfates. Even healthy requires a few tens of thousands of species of fungi to keep the soil and plants healthy. If you don't want to spring the cash for bagged organic fertilizer, find one you like and read the ingredients. You'll find the following materials in the bag: corn meal, corn gluten meal, soy, milo, alfalfa, cottonseed meal, and a few other protein based ground up grains. What I do is go to a feed store and buy ordinary corn meal, alfalfa pellets, or soy bean meal and use that. The cost is just about 1/6 the cost of the commercially bagged organic fertilizer. Use at the rate of 10-20 pounds per 1,000 square feet. That is roughly 10 kg per 100 square meters for you out of towners. Or if you don't have a feed store nearby, look at the ingredients on dog or cat food and compare to organic fertilizer. They are nearly identical - identical enough that you can use dog food for fertilizer.

maker12 (author)dchall82007-12-31

20 mule team borax is non toxic

watermelon (author)maker122008-01-01

The Earth is flat.

maker12 (author)watermelon2008-01-07

its not

dchall8 (author)maker122008-01-01

The dose makes the poison. Boron is a biological necessity in plants in small quantities; however, if you just dump it on the soil, you will have a sterile soil.

smarterthanu (author)dchall82007-07-28

After our dog died we had almost a full 40 lb bag of dry chunky dog food that was left out in the garage. To keep rodents and insects out of it we put it in a large plastic container that had a lid. When it began to turn moldy we did just what you are saying with the moldy part and mixed the chunks with soil and used it to fertilize our garden. The rest we gave to the chickens. Our sand spur problem, however, is not in the yard but in all the concrete cracks and areas covered with river or lime rock that have accumulated mostly sand but some soil, which requires the rock to be removed every five years so the soil can be removed and the rocks washed and returned to the area with a new liner. The only way we have found to keep the rock areas and sidewalk cracks free of weeds is to use the Borax method. We have already replaced one rock filled area with Bromeliads but the other rock filled areas are in the direct sun so the Bromeliads do not hold water very long or reach a dark green color and provide a habitat for little tree frogs that chirp/talk like little chickens.

dchall8 (author)smarterthanu2007-07-28

Well if they're in the cracks the borax will definitely throw the soil chemistry toward the uninhabitable side without the use of more toxic chemicals. Nice job! I've heard those frogs down in Mexico and Venezuela. I thought they were crickets. I never did see one, though.

smarterthanu (author)dchall82007-07-28

I've only seen them once or twice but the lizards come out every once and awhile too. Until we heard the frogs chirping the Bromeliads just made a nice green area. Now out main interest in the area is to hear the frogs chirp.

dchall8 (author)smarterthanu2007-07-28

And by the way, the presence of both frogs and lizards is an indication of a healthy environment.

smarterthanu (author)dchall82007-07-28

We are in the process of converting our lawn to Xeriscaping buy various methods with rocky paths to a variety of sitting areas. The areas nearest the Bromeliads and the creatures they host are the most popular.

maker12 (author)2007-12-31

a soldering iron is better for way #2

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