I live in New Mexico and bought house with a yard that is absolutely and totally completely infested with goathead plants (For those unfamiliar, here's what their seedpods look like--should be pretty obvious why you don't want them in your yard!).

After a week of heavy rains, here's what sections of the yard look like:

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Pretty grim. Thankfully, they die in the winter, but not before growing little stickers to reproduce with that fall off and nestle into the dirt. So I think I may be able to kill them all off in a few years by simply killing the larger plants before they grow any stickers. Without a new supply of stickers, eventually the ones already in the ground should stop sprouting--I hope. Then again, they are perennials, so that may take a loooong time.

Does this sound like it will work? Has anybody else defeated a goathead invasion? I'd like to avoid poisoning the yard if at all possible because there's a lot of nice wildlife in the area. I anticipate living here for a while and can be patient about it, so I'd like to avoid simply covering the whole yard in plastic and putting gravel over it as many in the area do.

3 Answers 3


Has anybody else defeated a goathead invasion?


We had these nasty horrible things all over our front yard in Texas when my kids were small. It took us about three years or so, but we finally got rid of them. Here's what we did:

  1. Clipped the lawn grass low and kept it low.
  2. Fertilized the lawn, which was perennial Bermuda grass, and put out some pre-emergent a couple of times in the spring and early summer to strengthen the lawn and help it out-compete the goat heads.
  3. Had frequent "goat head pulling parties" where each person took a large paper grocery sack out to the yard and spent as long as it took to fill it by pulling off the newest crop of green goat head sticker stems.
  4. Repeat every week during growing season for the next three years.

It finally worked - my kids were eventually even able to walk in the front yard barefoot.

Edited to add: Here is the type of goathead we were dealing with.


I assume you are talking about Tribulus terrestris, we have them all over Utah where I live, and they are horrible - they aren't that hard to eliminate, you can dig them before the seedpods ripen, they are pretty easy to pull up by hand, you just have to follow a vine back to the center and pull it out... also they are pretty easy to kill with roundup... the trick is you have to do it before they have fruit, so with roundup you would need to spray by the time you see the first flower, you should have the eliminated in 2-3 years.


I guess in Mexico it grows as an actual perennial, so digging may be more difficult, because they don't actually die in the winter.

  • Haha, I'm in NEW Mexico, where we have snowy winters. So maybe it's an annual here.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 19, 2014 at 16:49
  • ha, I am a selective reader apparently. In zone 7 they are an annual... I don't know what zone you are, but they are an annual here. Jul 19, 2014 at 16:51
  • I'm in Zone 7a.
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 19, 2014 at 17:01
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    yes absolutely hoeing is effective... the garden torch is effective... they aren't hard to kill, but they grow fast and if you let them go to seed then your property is like a mine field... there is no pain like stepping on one of these, they will puncture bike tires, they will imbed themselves in rubber soled shoes and then spread inside your house... sorry for the rant, I just hate these things.. Jul 20, 2014 at 13:17
  • 1
    Ugh, in UT here also, these are taking over my yard, not looking forward to dealing with them at all. Poor kids in our neighborhood, bike tires are getting shredded.
    – mxmissile
    Feb 15, 2019 at 15:41

Wow, what an awful weed! I've never had the pleasure of meeting this plant. I am one of these weirdos that hardly ever wear shoes! You mentioned that your neighbors have plasticized and graveled their yards. One way to kill weeds is to solarize the ground and plants by covering with clear plastic for a few months. Then pull the plastic off and rake up all debris and seeds. I loved Teresa's solution for the parties! She must be incredibly popular to have everyone come over once a week for three years!! Perhaps you could have at least one party at the 'unveiling'...this is truly a neighborhood project as everyone is 'sharing' the seeds. Please let us know what you have decided to do and how this turns out. Solarization of soil

  • Shoot! I've had a hard time getting this straight. Black is what I always thought was best but someone in one of my classes convinced us that clear was best. Guess I need to go look this up, grin, thanks J.!
    – stormy
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:44
  • Killing them isn't really a problem. It's the seed bank in the soil. Each sticker has 2-4 seeds in it that sprout at different times. I can kill off a year's worth of sprouts, but more will just be back next year until the seed bank is exhausted...
    – iLikeDirt
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:49
  • Solarization kills seeds. Is this seed tougher than others?
    – stormy
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:56
  • It is clear that works for solarization, I added a link in my answer.
    – stormy
    Jul 23, 2014 at 18:57
  • The black color absorbs the heat. The clear allows light to penetrate to the ground which absorbs the heat instead. This produces enough heat in the soil to kill fungus, bacteria...weeds and weed seeds.
    – stormy
    Jul 25, 2014 at 21:30

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