Spotted Spurge Control: Say Goodbye to This Invasive Weed

Does your garden get invaded by spotted spurge? Then, you must have the urge to know how to control this weed at all costs.

Many gardeners and homeowners regard it as an unpleasant nuisance.

This weed not only invades weak areas of their lawn, but also takes up residence in walkway cracks, landscape beds, and even veggie gardens.

As a result, knowing how to control this spotted weed and prevent it to grow in your garden is highly important for any gardener and homeowner.


Introduction and Identification of Spotted Spurge Weed

Spotted spurge is distinguished from prostrate knotweed by it's opposite leaf pattern, the presence of purple blotches on the uppersides of leaves(hence the name spotted spurge), and its densely hairy, red stems.
Spotted Spurge Weed

Scientifically known as Euphorbia maculata, this spotted weed comes with a bushy appearance and thrives low to the ground in a carpet-like way.

This dark green plant has red stems and blooms tiny pink flowers. Meanwhile, its oval-shaped foliages feature a red spot in the middle from which the name was coming.

You should be aware of the milky white sap of this spotted weed since it can irritate your skin upon contact.

Similar to most weedy spurges, this weed is also a summer annual that does not like rivalry and only relies on its abundant seed production to survive.

Here are several highlights related to spotted spurge that you need to know.

  • This spotted weed generates taproots from its inner growing points and spreads crossways in radial patterns. However, it does not root at nodes.
  • It is originally from the eastern United States and is invasive in New York, California, as well as North Dakota.
  • When it becomes the predominant weed in the lawn, this spurge variety can be poisonous and kill grazing sheep.
  • In humans and other animals, the alkaloid euphorbia of the spurge’s white sap can seriously irritate the skin.
    Besides, this may cause human blindness if there is any eye contact.
  • The seeds of this spurge germinate best in warmer soil with temperatures of above 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit).

Since this weed has a pretty similar appearance to the species in the spurge family, people tend to mistake it with other varieties.
Besides, others may assign this weed to the genus Chamaesyce, so in the USDA’s Plants Database, you will find Chamaesyce maculata instead of Euphorbiaceae maculata.

What to Prepare before Getting Rid of Spotted Spurge

To help lessen the chances of it coming back, remove spotted spurge before it has a chance to flower and produce seeds. Small patches of spotted spurge plants can also be killed using a read-to-use lawn weed killer
Prepare to Get Rid Spotted Spurge

Before performing any treatment, you must conduct an inspection and look for any growing spurge on your lawn.

The best time to inspect the spurge is whenever the temperatures are higher. You can see it growing throughout February to September, depending on where you reside in.

Once you pointed out that the spurge is growing on your lawn, start with measuring your treatment area.

Whatever the control technique will be, it is important to decide the size of your weed management location.

This will help you determine the number of products required for killing the spurge. To perform this, you can measure the width and length of the turf’s area in feet.

Then, multiply the result together to get the square feet amounts. After that, you can start to apply the herbicide or other products designed to control the weed.

5 Ways to Kill Spotted Spurge Effectively

To help lessen the chances of it coming back, remove spotted spurge before it has a chance to flower and produce seeds. Small patches of spotted spurge plants can also be killed using a read-to-use lawn weed killer, like Scotts® Spot Weed Control for Lawns.
Kill Spotted Spurge Effectively

Generating a few thousand seeds per plant, this spotted weed can spread speedily throughout your lawn without you even recognizing it.

Several weeks after germination, it begins blooming and generating seed. This warm-climate weed can produce its seeds at the beginning of summer or later in the year.

The seeds generated later in the year will stay inactive in the soil until the upcoming spring. Meanwhile, ones produced in early summer do not need much time to sprout and invade your lawn.

When this occurs, you must do the necessary spotted spurge control and kill this weed for good.

  1. Use OTC formula to eradicate large patches

If you have a large spotted spurge problem in the lawn, apply a product meant for broadcast application. To kill weeds and feed your lawn at the same time, use a product like Scotts® Turf Builder® Triple Action or Scotts® Turf Builder® Weed & Feed3.
Eradicate Large Spotted Spurge

If you are late in detecting the weed and there has been a large patch in your lawn, using a product designed for broadcast application is a must.

You can use an over-the-counter formula to kill and prevent wild plants.

This kind of product typically works toward crabgrass, clover, dandelions, and other broadleaf weeds as well.

Most manufacturers design their formula for particular lawns only, so make sure that the product of your choice can work on your garden or backyard’s grass.

Check the label directions first before purchasing any product to control spotted spurge and use it on the listed grass types only.

  1. Hand-pulling tiny patches

Because of the spotted spurge weed's mat-like nature, hand pulling is a good option for removing spotted spurge from the lawn or flower beds. Be sure to wear gloves due to the irritating sap.
Hand Pulling Spotted Spurge

If you only discover several patches scattered all over your yard, hand-pulling will be the best method to remove this spotted weed.

Thanks to the weed’s single taproot and mat-like shape, hand-pulling makes a great choice for getting rid of it from your flower beds or lawn.

Before pulling the weed with your hands, do not forget that it acquires that irritating sap. Thus, you should prepare a pair of gloves to protect your hands.

Hand-pulling is effective if you perform this before the spurge has an opportunity to produce seeds. If you are late, expect the weed to spread quickly on your lawn.

If you have pulled the spotted weed and it starts to grow again from its taproot, make sure to pull it immediately.

By trying to re-grow every time you pull it up, the taproot will eventually utilize all of its energy and die entirely.

  1. Take advantage of spotted spurge herbicide

Preemergent herbicides can help prevent spotted spurge outbreaks if you apply them in late winter before weed seeds germinate.
Spotted Spurge Herbicide

Using herbicides is another effective way to control this spotted weed, particularly when the plant is still young.

You can take advantage of a variety of herbicides to treat the spurge.

However, when they are getting large and mature, they tend to stand firm against many types of weed killers.

If you want to try using herbicides to kill the spotted weed, the best season to use them will be at the beginning of summer or late spring when the plant is ready to sprout for the first time.

Then, what kind of herbicides should you use on mature spotted spurge?

There is a non-selective type like glyphosate that works against the weed, but it may affect your lovely grass and plant as well upon contact.

Besides, using a non-selective herbicide does not change the fact that the spurge may grow again from the taproots.

Hence, you should often monitor your lawn to detect if the weed has grown again and treat it immediately.

  1. Add heavy mulch

Heavily mulching with either newspaper or wood mulch is also an effective method of spotted spurge control.
Heavy Mulch to Control Spotted Spurge

You can also try using a bunch of either wood mulch or newspaper to cover your lawn as an effective method to treat the spurge.

Heavily mulching the ground with a few inches of mulch or some layers of newspaper can prevent the weed seeds from cultivating.

Moreover, mulching can also smother your existing plants.

Keep in mind that organic approaches like the use of mulching are safer and friendlier to the environment. Thus, you should try this method first before trying to control the spotted weeds with a chemical.

  1. Solarize the affected area

In home vegetable gardens, you can control spurge seedlings by using soil solarization, mulches, and early cultivation.
Solarize the Affected Spotted Spurge

If the seeds have not sprouted, you can apply granules or pre-emergent sprays to control spotted spurge as they tend to be effective that way.

Pre-emergent sprays make an effective alternative for mulching, but you should not apply them in a veggies garden unless the label indicates that the products are suitable for food crops.

Otherwise, you may need to try solarizing your affected lawn as the last attempt to kill spurge that has taken root.

Soil solarization is effective to destroy the spurge as well as its seeds. However, you must be aware that this technique will kill other things in the dirt as well.

Tips to Avoid the Weed for Coming Back

Of course, you need to keep spotted spurge at bay after treating and killing them. You can try the following tips to avoid this weed from taking over your lawn again.

  • Mow high

Mowing at the height best for your lawn type allows the grass to grow thick and develop a deep root system.
Mow High to Prevent Spotted Spurge

Let your lawn grass grow thick and create a profound root system by mowing at the height. Besides, this can facilitate nutrient recovery back into the soil as well.

If you have centipede or zoysia turfs, you should mow them at 5 to 8 cm (2 to 3 inches).

Meanwhile, fescues, perennial ryegrass, St. Augustine, and Kentucky bluegrass lawns do best when mowed at 8 to 10 cm (3 to 4 inches).

Moreover, Bermuda lawns will prefer to get trimmed at 4 to 5 cm (1.5 to 2 inches) height.

  • Feed the lawn

Regular feedings (2 to 4 times per year) provide the nutrients your lawn needs to produce dense, green turf. Spotted spurge is not an competitive weed, so a thick lawn will keep spotted spurge out and prevent weed seeds from sprouting.
Feed the Lawn to Prevent Spotted Spurge

Luckily, this warm-weather weed is not a competitive variety. Thus, you can simply make your lawn thick to avoid them from sprouting and invading.

To create dense, green turf, make sure to give your lawn regular feedings of twice to four times annually.

  • Water deeply

 Watering deeply and infrequently helps your lawn outcompete weeds by encouraging deeper root growth and thicker, stronger grass.
Watering for Prevent Spotted Spurge

You can also support your lawn to outcompete spotted spurge by watering deeply and occasionally. This way the turf will acquire deeper, stronger, and thicker growth of the root.

Watering too often and too little only promotes shallow root growth which may result in a thin lawn and some bare spots.

These bare spots will encourage weeds to grow there and invade your lawn eventually. Hence, you should water your lawn in the right way.

Consider counting on rain or nature’s sprinklers to water your turf as much as possible.

Then, utilize them when necessary only to accomplish the standard of 3 cm (1 inch) of water need each week.

Finally, you can say goodbye to spotted spurge and stop seeing this invasive weed coming back to your lovely lawn.

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