How to get rid of dead foxtail weed in the yard

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We have had our yard INFESTED with the foxtail weed. We sprayed the yard and killed all the weeds but now the barbs are just laying there and not decomposing. It is very dangerous for our dog and we need solutions as to what we can do to irradiate them! The only solution I have come up with is to install artificial turf, but that's going to cost us wayyyy more money than we want. I am open to any suggestions out there!
q foxtails weeds, gardening, gardening pests, plant care
  17 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on May 10, 2016
    I think you should have considered your dog before you used the weed killer.So moving forward you need to block that area off so the dog will not be in contact.The next step would be to remove the rest of the dead weeds and grass. Then amend your soil with peat moss,,lime ,and top soil and starter fertilizer and put grass seed for your area. Keep moist at all times until the see germinates.
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    • Lee Detrick Lee Detrick on May 11, 2016
      @Janet Pizaro I use a commercial weed killer that says when it dries, it is harmless to pets; I have found it so.
  • MN Mom MN Mom on May 10, 2016
    I'm sure you were thinking utmost about the safety of your pet when you eliminated the foxtail as it is well known how dangerous foxtail is to a dogs health. You're right in wanting to clean up the dead clumps for your lawn as well as your pets health. That being said, I suggest you contacting your local extension office or a very reputable lawn and garden service. Both should be able to help you make the best decision on cleaning up the debris and moving forward with getting your area going in the right direction. Sod would maybe be a better option than seeding your yard. Either way, ask the advice of a lawn professional who has experience dealing with the clean up and can help establish your new grass.
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    • DORLIS DORLIS on May 11, 2016
      @Kaitie Schumacher Forrest before reading this I would have aid burn it. Now, rake it up and put in garbagge bag to be hauled off.
  • Jef3726121 Jef3726121 on May 11, 2016
    Mow it and then re-start growing your lawn.
  • Linda Johnson Linda Johnson on May 11, 2016
    What we're doing in our yard is putting down a a layer of black ground cover plastic and covering it with 4" - 6" gravel. We'll put in a propane fire pit and our lawn furniture and picnic table. (We have an acre and we can't drive our riding lawn mower into this 20' x 30' area.)
    • That's exactly what we decided on! We are getting a fabric underlay and the putting playground chips over the top until next spring when we can feasibility plant grass (it's too hot in Southern California already to attempt that)
  • EdiLeck EdiLeck on May 11, 2016
    Fallbrook is indeed a dry area! So, take a cue from nature and think 'desert!' Depending on how big your yard is, put pea gravel around the perimeter of the yard on three sides and plant a small patch of drought tolerant grass next to the house so your dog has a place to lay and roll in the grass. First, you will have to rake up all the foxtail and burrs then be very vigilant and pull/spray new foxtail as it grows. You won't be able to completely eradicate the foxtail, but you will be able to control it with diligence.
  • Bruce Johnson Bruce Johnson on May 11, 2016
    When (not if!) they come back, they're quite easy to pull while green, before the barbs mature and turn dangerous, as they're very shallowly rooted. Just grab 'em down near the ground where the leaves are. In my yard (southern AZ) at least, they're the first 'grass' to sprout, so when I go around cleaning up after the dogs I just pull every one I can find. We have about a ½ acre, but it only likes the north side of the house (a little cooler, a little wetter) so keeping on top of them isn't too hard. It's a lot easier than paying vet bills for sure. I've managed to get them down to a minor problem from the insane level of them we used to have. They stop growing when it gets hotter, so once you've licked them in the spring they won't tend to come back. (until next spring, of course!) Since I also have a lot of native wildflowers growing in that part of the yard, spraying isn't an option.
    • Awesome! That was my goal. When we moved in, the yard was infested and even though I've had other dogs before this one, I'd never lived in an area that has had s problem, so I had NO IDEA how bad they were.
  • Martha Martha on May 11, 2016
    We've got a half acre that's a combo of bur clover and burweed, with a few foxtails and star thistle thrown in. What a mess! We also have native wildflowers, plus I've planted an area with wildflower seed. Luckily the dogs have a separate small, fence-enclosed lawn. I've been studying the issue and think our only viable option is to focus on making the grass as healthy as possible in the hope of crowding out the weeds.
  • Cindi Cindi on May 12, 2016
    When I lived in Southern California, I rented a house with 3/4 acres of foxtails, I was constantly rushing my one dog, a Sheltie, to the Vet. My other dog, a Terrier mix never got them for some reason, but I spent hundred of dollars for them to dig them out of my Sheltie's ears. Since it wasn't my property, there wasn't much I could do, except to keep it mowed, but it worked, as long as it was mowed, they could run through it, even with them laying on the ground, without getting them in their ears, although my Terrier did get one in his nose once, so it's not a sure thing, but it helps until you can find a real solution. I live in Colorado now and haven't seen a foxtail, but still cringe when I hear the name, I totally hate the things, so can relate to what you're going through.
  • Kay Kay on May 12, 2016
    Well raking them would be a solution. Wear gloves when handling. I agree with the gravel solution w/ a strip of grass. It appears from the picture you are in a very dry climate which means conserving water. Without seeing your whole yard it is hard to give you a complete recommendation. Lay down barrier before putting down the gravel. You can use the large square cement stepping stones to lay a path in the gravel. If you see anymore green coming up then hit it with a mixture of vinegar/salt/Dawn dishsoap to kill it. This is safe to use around pets and kids. Good luck!
    • See 1 previous
    • Kay Kay on May 13, 2016
      Then you are in a perfect position to make a dog friendly yard. Go to your local greenhouse and ask about dry climate friendly plants. Large rocks and gravel can take the place of massive areas accented w/ pathways and plants. A strip of grass for the dogs and you are good to go. It is important to rake up and dispose of as much of the dead weeds as possible. This will be work but well worth it in the end for you and your dogs. They will love you in the end for a safe and great place to play! Good luck! IF you get this done be sure and post before and after photos! We would love to see the results. @
  • Anna Anna on May 13, 2016
    Get a flame thrower! I purchased one from Home Depot. It takes a tank of propane and you just hook it up, turn it on and burn, baby, burn! This is how I take care of tumbleweeds and other tough desert stuff in my yard. It'll take care of that foxtail. Keep a hose handy, just in case.
  • Put landscape cover over the whole yard. Then put mulch over it.
    • Ashley Angstadt Ashley Angstadt on Nov 15, 2016
      Hey, just came across your foxtail issue. I have the same and am loosing my mind and bank account! Was yard cover and mulching the final go to? Thanks
  • Sandi Wasserman Sandi Wasserman on Jun 11, 2017
    I'm in kingman az and I'm having a huge issue with dried up foxtails scattered all over our garden rock. We have a half acre full! We just moved in and realized we have a huge issue with them. What do we do, rake up a half acre of landscape rock or remove it. There's already black weed blocker under the rock but the place had been vacant and neglected for over a year. It's over ran by foxtails thru out. I'm thinking the easiest way maybe to section off and re-rock? :/
  • Melinda Melinda on Jun 11, 2017
    Rake, hoe, and hand pull. That's what I ended up doing. Ugghh.
  • Anna Anna on Jul 08, 2017
    Yes it did. Burned down to ash. When it cools down this winter I plan to install some of the artificial lawn stuff I've seen. My daughter has it and it has survived 7 dogs and about 8 years of Arizona summers and looks great. And no weeds!
    • See 1 previous
    • Anna Anna on Jul 13, 2017
      I think she got it from or through Home Depot but I'll find out and let you know.
  • Lee Lee on Jun 29, 2019

    Make sure there is no burn ban in your area. I planned on torching them, but don't want to risk a $10G fine! I was wondering if the green ones are safe to mow or once they turn brown laying on ground (after mowed) will there be that danger?

    • Noslendivad Noslendivad on Jul 09, 2019

      Any dry seed is dangerous. Mow when green, rake area and water to get seed to germinate, then you can spray, pull or mow. If mowing make sure to bag it and throw it away. I started with composting it with all my other yard waste but found dry seed pods in and around my compost and I was spreading the problem.

  • Noslendivad Noslendivad on Jul 09, 2019

    We have no burn times, and no burn for "weeds". I used a 500,000 BTU propane torch late at night in small areas to burn the dry seeds that dropped that wouldn't collect in lawn mower bag. Quick and safe as we wet the area we don't want burned. When bagging take care to remove all seed pods from the collection bag or you will spread them everywhere you go. I have a second mower but still pull all the seed pods out of the bag. After destroying the seeds, keep area mowed very short. Walk the yard every day. Pull any foxtails as soon as you see them growing. But if kept mowed short not a problem. Spray with grass killer before seed pod develops in area you can't mow, rocky hill like in our back yard.


    Similar method works for goat head thorns. Painful for dogs but not as dangerous. Just walk the yard daily either spraying with weed/grass killer or pull and throw in garbage before pods develop. Using a small amount of weed killer daily is better than area treatments in my mind. I rarely have to use now. If pods have developed carefully remove entire plant and throw in a sealed garbage can. After a few weeks you will start to gain control.

  • Deb K Deb K on Jul 14, 2019

    Hello, I would put landscape fabric down, then do a nice rock in that are, like a limestone or rainbow rock, you could then plant a few drought resistant shrubs


    • See 1 previous
    • Deb K Deb K on Dec 07, 2019

      This is just before we built our garage which runs on the right where the old side walk is, my Hubby an I shoveled (& wheel barrowed) all this rock to place it. We worked on it for about 5 summers to get it to here.


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