What is Thistle and How Do I Control It?

"Spear thistle rosette" by John Tann is licensed under CC BY 2.0 US

Non-native thistles have become major problems in agricultural landscapes and 22 states have designated them as noxious weeds. Although thistles attract pollinators and birds, the spiny leaves and stems keep grazers away. Some thistles even release chemicals into the soil that inhibit the growth of other plants. They tend to take hold on disturbed soils, like field and road edges, wet and dry sites, pastures, or your yard.


1. Keep it luscious

The best way to avoid thistle is to keep your lawn thick and lush. Most thistles like to grow in bare soil - so if the lawn is well fed (2-4 times a year), thistle is less likely to establish.

2. Get ’em early

If thistle has already snuck its way into your lawn, spray it before the roots are well established.

3. Mow like a pro

Mowing at a height best for your lawn allows the grass to grow thick and develop a deep root system. Grass clippings recycle plant nutrients back into the soil.

4. Easy on the H2O

Your lawn may not need as much water as you’d think. An inch of water per week is all that it needs. So see what Mother Nature has in store before turning on the sprinkler.

5. Reach for Roundup® For Lawns

Apply when the weed is young and actively growing for best results.