Tumbleweeds were introduced to the United States from illegally imported wheat seed from Russia in the mid-1800s. The tumbleweeds, also known as Russian thistles, grow in poor soil, often where no other plants grow, and are found in western states where the summers are dry. When the plant dies, it breaks away from the stem and rolls in the wind, depositing upwards of 200,000 seeds in the soil as it rolls. The plants are annuals and have few uses except for a few people who use their branches for craft projects. Tumbleweeds can be a hazard while driving in strong winds or in late-season fires when they burn quickly and can spread more fire as they roll along the ground.
Pick up the tumbleweeds and put them into a manageable pile. Wearing leather or solid-sided shoes and tightly woven work clothes, stomp the tumbleweeds into smaller pieces and throw them into the garbage can. Putting the tumbleweeds on a concrete, brick or asphalt surface outside minimizes driving the seeds into the soil, which grow the next season, making the problem worse.
While wearing gloves, compress the tumbleweeds and tie them into bundles. Tumbleweeds have tiny thorns that can hurt your skin. Store outdoors and use them as kindling for your indoor or outdoor fireplace. When bringing in the bundles, put them in a plastic grocery bag to avoid sending seeds and thorns over your floors. If you are burning a pile of them outdoors, you need to get a burning permit from your local jurisdiction. Tumbleweed fires can spread to other vegetation in your yard, and the bushes burn fast.
Use pre-emergent herbicides to control tumbleweeds in your yard if you have had infestations of them. Use according to the package's directions, since different herbicides may have different methods of application. If you notice any young tumbleweed plants growing, try pulling them when small or spraying with an herbicide. The timing for spraying is critical and is effective only on young plants.