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The Scourge of Spotted Spurge in Texas

Spotted SpurgeThe Scourge of Spotted Spurge in Texas

In Texas, we have hot summers. That heat comes with downsides. You have to worry about heat exhaustion and sunburn. Plus, if you have a lawn, you have to worry about spotted spurge spreading out in your lawn.

The spotted weed known as spurge thrives in the heat of a Texas summer. Spotted spurge seeds are especially good at finding the thin, weak spots in your lawn and taking root. Each plant is capable of producing several thousand seeds each year, which is how it is able to spread with such surprising speed. It is considered a summer annual. However, seeds that fall late in the summer season are capable of wintering over and then sprouting early in the spring of the following year. Just five weeks after germination, those spurge weeds start to produce seeds. This makes early treatment absolutely imperative.

Spotted Spurge Facts

You’ll know you’re dealing with spurge if you find a plant that has dark green foliage and red stems. It grows in a matted formation, increasing in size from a central point. Leaves are oval shaped and have a red spot, which is why the weed is often referred to as spotted spurge. Its blooms are small and pink. If you come into contact with it, be aware that it has a white, milky sap that can be irritating to your skin.

In addition to heat, spotted spurge also likes compacted, poor soil. This means that if your lawn is thin and you haven’t aerated in awhile, your grass may be more susceptible to an infestation of spurge. With a long taproot and tough seeds, keeping spurge from coming back can be especially tricky.

We use several methods to control and prevent outbreaks of spotted spurge. Often, we will begin by hand pulling mature plants to stop them from leaving even more seeds behind on your lawn. It may make sense to cover the area with a thick layer of mulch to smother any young plants that are just emerging. Another approach is the application of an herbicide. This is usually most effective when plants are young. Mature plants tend to be hardy enough to withstand most herbicide compounds, which is when hand pulling and smothering become useful techniques.

Spotted Spurge spreads quickly, especially in the heat of a Texas summer. Don’t let it take over your lawn. If you think your Dallas/Fort Worth area grass is being invaded by spurge, give us a call.

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