How To Get Rid Of Goat Heads

Goat heads are noted for their rough, spiky seedpods, which can damage bike tires and shoes and hurt individuals walking around barefoot. Puncture vine, caltrop, devil’s thorn, devil’s eyelashes, devil’s weed, cathead, and tack weed are all names for the weed.

Goat heads are perennials with deep roots that often reseed themselves after being plucked by hand. Goat heads don’t have to be tall to seed. As they move beneath your mower height, their spiky seed burrs can be shed.

Goat heads are prolific seeders, with burrs strewn throughout your yard. Goathead (Tribulus Terrestris, USDA plant hardiness zones 4–11, but native to Southern Europe) is an invasive weed plant spread over most of North America, particularly in the Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Patience is required when dealing with goat’s head weeds and an understanding that dormancy is not the best way to get rid of goat heads in the fall and winter.

Get Rid of Goat Head

In the spring, any remaining roots regrow quickly. Those burrs also sprout and grow into goat head plants in the spring. (Read Is Spray On Grass Seed Worth It?)

In our guide, you can find the best techniques to get rid of goat heads without killing grass.

Goathead Characteristics and Goat Head Life Cycle

Goathead is a low-growing, deep-rooted shrub. It grows in arid locations in compacted soils, with a long deep taproot. As a result, orchards, gardens, pastures, and lawns are susceptible to pest infestation.

This is an annual summer broadleaf with a core taproot that spreads. It has four to eight leaflets that grow opposite its hairy leaves. It produces yellow blooms that are half an inch long.

Seedpods are five spiky burr clusters that contain up to five seeds each. Seedpods of goat heads are green at first, then gray or tan.

Each year, a single goat head plant can produce 200 to 5,000 seeds. Seedpods can remain dormant in the soil for up to five years as they wait for the proper conditions to sprout.

While the seeds require sufficient soil moisture and mild temperatures to germinate, once established, the plant can withstand most climate conditions in North America that are above freezing.

How Do I Get Rid Of Goat Heads In My Lawn?

You are not alone if you have ever trodden on a goat head and felt the sharp burr. Once it is enough, remove all goat head weeds from your yard.

Worse, if the goat head is not controlled soon, it will take over lawns and gardens.

Even after you mow them, they continue to reseed. Goat heads can grow down to the ground and drop burrs there. (Learn How To String A Weed Eater With Two Holes)

Here are some of the most effective ways to get rid of puncture vine seeds and burrs.

Weed pesticide to kill goat heads

Weed Killer Spray To Kill Goat Heads

A goat head is a perennial weed with a thick taproot. Hand-pulling is ineffective at removing goat heads because portions of the root that break off in the soil regenerate quickly.

As a result, use a weed killer spray that kills goat heads when they appear to get around this. Glyphosate-based weed herbicides such as Roundup and other Glyphosate-based herbicides successfully kill goat heads in gardens.

Just remember that glyphosate kills whatever plant it comes into touch with, so don’t use your pump sprayer in windy circumstances or around desired plants.

Use a specialized weed pesticide to kill goat heads without harming your grass.

The herbicide will take 1–2 weeks to take effect. While the plant’s top may droop in a matter of hours, it takes time for the weed killer to destroy the plant down to the root.

Burn Goat Heads With a Flame Weeder

One issue in weed killer sprays is that they do not kill weed seeds. The stinging burrs that goat heads drop are their seeds, which, if left unchecked, will sprout swiftly, and can still puncture bicycle tires long after other portions of the plant have been dead.

A propane weed-burning torch is an excellent weed-killing tool for eradicating invasive weed species. They’re a propane-tank-powered mini-flamethrower that’s perfect for torching weeds.

The propane flame in a flame weeder will not only kill the goat’s head plants, but it will also kill all the seeds, including bothersome goat head burrs.

Use caution when using a propane weed burner, especially if the lawn is dry or if the weather is windy during the summer.

Use the flame weeder in a controlled manner to burn the entire plant without injuring your attractive plant next door to ensure the goat head plant is eradicated.

First, discover any restrictions on how you can use it with your local fire department or city. For example, some jurisdictions require a burn permit, while others do not. (Learn What Are The Different Types Of Sticker Weeds)

Cover With Mulch and Landscape Fabric

After you’ve killed and eliminated goat head weeds from your garden, it’s time to prevent them from returning.

Most weed seeds must be within 1–2 inches of the surface to sprout. To prevent remaining seeds from sprouting, lay down water-permeable landscaping fabric in your garden and cover it with a 3–4-inch layer of mulch.

The landscaping cloth keeps goat heads from poking their heads through the mulch while still enabling water and nutrients to reach the soil in your garden.

Pebbles, synthetic mulch, or even newspapers can cover the landscaping fabric. Because goat head thrives in arid climates, many gardeners use desert-friendly rock and gravel groundcover to keep them under control.

You can gradually tear down an old carpet if you don’t have any landscape fabric. However, it does an outstanding job of preventing undesired plants from growing in the meantime.

How Do You Get Rid of Goat Head Forever?

Pre-emergent weed killers prevent Goat Head

Goat Head Pre-Emergent Herbicide

Even with the most thorough weeding and burning, goat head, sand spurs, and burrs will remain.

This is especially problematic in grassy yards, where landscape fabric and mulch aren’t practical alternatives. Fortunately, before considering natural alternatives, you may discover how a pre-emergent weed killer can help.

Apply to your grass in late March or early April in the early spring. The seeds are then killed before they can fully generate seeds and germinate. Use this to keep mature goat heads from reappearing after being removed.

Because pre-emergent weed killers prevent all seeds from sprouting, wait 4–6 weeks after sowing grass or three weeks before seeding your lawn before using them.

Kill Goats Head With Puncture Vine Weevils

Puncture These weeds are controlled by vine weevils. The seed weevil Microlarinus lareynii lays eggs inside seedpods and is known as a seed weevil. Microlarinus lypriformis is a stem weevil that lays its eggs in the stems.

Both species’ larvae eat the plant and seed pods, killing them. Therefore, to use the weevils together to treat goat head weeds for the best effect.

They are available from biological control vendors; however, they are not advised for small gardens and only survive in their native locations.

How Do You Get Rid of Goat Heads in Dirt?

One of the best things to help you exterminate goat heads is the weather. Here is a breakdown of the annual seasons and how you can use these times to kill a goat head infestation.

Late Winter and Spring

To prevent weeds from emerging in the early spring (late March or early April), spray your lawn with a pre-emergent weed killer.

Pre-emergent weed killers, such as Surflan or Preen, kill seeds as they germinate in the spring, preventing them from sprouting and establishing themselves.

After you’ve removed all the mature goat heads from your property, you can use this strategy to keep them from returning. (Read Does Epsom Salt Kill Weeds)

Please keep in mind that pre-emergent weed killers prevent the sprouting of all seeds; therefore, avoid using them for 4–6 weeks after sowing grass or for three weeks before seeding your lawn.


Large infestations should be swept aside using a gas weed burner.

Following your burn, use a weed killer to remove the underground roots left behind. It’s good to remember that you don’t have to rake up the dead goat heads when you use a weed burner.

Please treat them with a weed killer in the sunlight as soon as they appear. Then, spray the area and cover it with a tarp or carpet to keep the sun off it for a week.

Remove the covering from the plants when they become yellow or brown and proceed to the next phase.

Remove the goat’s head plants from the ground with your upright weeder. If you are physically healthy and wearing protective gloves, you can remove small plants by hand.

Then, take hold of the entire plant and carefully pull it sideways to extract the complete root system. Straight-up tugging, done regularly, causes the plant to snap off, leaving the roots behind.

Remove all goat head debris from the area by raking it. Finally, check the area for thorns after it has been cleaned. Remember to trash or burn any goat’s head weeds or thorns that grow on your property. If you don’t act, they will reseed.

Instead of using insecticides, cover the area with wildflowers and other ground coverings to suffocate the goat’s head plant.

Fall and Early Winter

The first freeze kills the goat’s head plant in cold areas. Because the plant quickly reseeds, remove all thorns, stems, leaves, and roots from your property. Please dispose of them properly or burn them.

Removing Dead Goat Head Weeds

It’s time to get rid of the mature plants you sprayed or burned. The uncomplicated ways to do this are weeding or raking to get rid of the goat head weeds finally.

This ensures that no seeds from dead plants fall to the ground, freeing up space for grass and other plants to thrive. Keep all your dead weeds in a plastic bag to minimize seeds falling to the ground and causing fresh growth.

Will Vinegar Kill Goat Heads?

Vinegar is frequently used to destroy weeds. Although vinegar causes goat heads to droop, a homemade weed killer created with vinegar does not destroy the roots’ weeds.

It’s best to combine horticultural vinegar and a tiny amount of dish soap—the soap aids in the vinegar’s adhesion to the goat head leaves.

Some gardeners also use salt; however, this might alter the soil’s composition, inhibit the growth of other plants, and interfere with grass formation. Unfortunately, goat head weeds will not be killed by any form of this DIY weed killer.

How To Get Rid Of Goat Heads

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.