How to Kill Wild Catcus in the Lawn

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Prickly pear cactus plants can grow in large clusters that will take over your lawn.
Prickly pear cactus plants can grow in large clusters that will take over your lawn. (Image: Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images)

If your yard or pasture is being overrun with wild cactus plants, chances are you're dealing with the prickly pear cactus . Prickly pear is typically found in the southwestern United States and is known as an invasive species that will crowd out beneficial vegetation. The plants can grow to both a height and width of up to 6 feet. Prickly pear cacti have long, flat, green pads that are covered with spines. These plants are not easily eradicated, and may require the use of an herbicide as well as manually removing them from your property.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden sprayer
  • Herbicide containing picloram (Surmount)
  • Tiller or shredder
  • Rake
  • Molasses
  • Shovel

Spraying the Cacti

Fill a plastic garden sprayer with an herbicide containing picloram (such as the commercially-available Surmount). Mix the herbicide with water according to the product instructions, which is normally 1 part herbicide to 100 parts water.

Add 1 oz. of liquid dishwashing soap to the herbicide. The soap will help thicken the liquid slightly and allow it to adhere better to the cactus pads.

Adjust the garden sprayer nozzle so that it sprays large droplets rather than a fine mist.

Spray the cactus plants. Coat both sides of all of the cactus pads to ensure maximum absorption. Dampen the pads, but don't spray them to the point where the herbicide runs off.

Allow the herbicide to soak into the plants for several days before proceeding.

Shredding and Tilling

Use a shredder or tiller to shred the cactus plants. Run over the cactus so that you tear the pads from the base of the plant.

Rake all of the cactus pads into a pile. Pour molasses over the pile, using 2 cups of molasses for every cubic yard of cactus pads. The molasses will break down the pads and will allow you to use them as compost. If you leave the pads where you chop them off in the yard, they will simply re-root, and you'll have more cactus plants before long.

Place the blade of a shovel at the base of the cactus plants. Dig down into the soil and pull out the root system. You must remove the root systems, especially those of large cacti, or they will regenerate new pads. Dispose of the root systems.

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