In an earlier blog post, we talked about creeping charlie as a problematic weed in lawns. Wild violets are another broadleaf weed that causes some frustration due to their persistence and difficulty to control. Wild violets thrive in and are first noticed in shady, moist conditions, but can withstand drought once they’re established. A thin stand of turf will also be more susceptible to wild violets and other weeds. Wild violets and creeping charlie are frequently mentioned together, but the reasons behind their persistence are a bit different. Let’s take a closer look!
Identification of Wild Violets in Your Lawn
Wild violets have a heart-shaped leaf that grows on a single stalk. At times throughout the growing season, they’ll sprout small flowers that are blue/violets that also grow on individual stalks. At times, those flowers can be white too. Violets don’t grow very tall, so they usually aren’t seen from a distance like grassy weeds that grow faster than turf.
As mentioned earlier, wild violets thrive in shady, moist conditions. These conditions aren’t favorable for turf growth, which then exacerbates the issue. Tree limbs can be raised or thinned out to create more sunlight. If that isn’t a desirable option, that area could be converted to a low-maintenance landscape bed with shade-loving plants like hosta, astilbe and coral bells. As much as we love turfgrass, we also acknowledge that some environments aren’t meant for grass and would be better served in a different capacity. Aesthetically, a landscape bed may be more pleasing to the eye than a struggling patch of turf.
So, why are wild violets so difficult to control? There are a few different characteristics that make them a worthy adversary:
- The leaves of wild violets have a waxy coating that makes it difficult for herbicides to fully penetrate the leaf. We’ll touch on that when discussing controls for wild violets.
- Wild violets are resistant to a variety of herbicides. Our program includes herbicides that are effective, used in a rotation.
- Wild violets have a very thick root system and spread by thick underground roots called rhizomes. Repeat applications are necessary for the products to work their way into these roots.
Controlling Wild Violets on Your Property
There are two general methods to controlling weeds and pests; cultural and chemical. Cultural controls are non-chemical methods that are aimed at changing the environment or suppressing growth with practices designed to strengthen the turf. These include:
- Mowing your lawn at the proper height, and at appropriate intervals. Lawns should be mowed at least 3” through the growing season, and raised to 3.5” in periods of extreme drought or heat. Lawns should be mowed frequently enough that we’re removing NO MORE than 1/3 of the plant. At times, that may mean mowing every 4-5 days. Proper mowing is the #1 practice that has the largest impact on turf quality.
- Fertilizing at regular intervals and proper amounts to make the turf as thick as possible. Weeds are great at finding open spaces to grow, and a well-fertilized turf has a thick, full canopy that will prevent weed germination.
- Proper irrigation will help keep our turfgrass healthy, while also preventing a habitat that encourages wild violets. Violets love moist soil, and watering frequently will not allow the soil to dry out properly. A good irrigation schedule waters the lawn when needed, and provides about ½” of water at a time.
- Aerating at least once per year (spring or fall) is a necessary practice to help the soil and turf. Aeration relieves soil compaction, removes extra thatch, and improves air, water and nutrient movement within the soil. Regular aeration in conjunction with the above practices will yield a thick, healthy turf that will do a great job keep out any weed.
Chemical control, using herbicides, is usually necessary when dealing with wild violets. Because of its growth habit and characteristics, one treatment is not enough to eradicate wild violets. Repeat applications will be necessary, along with the proper lawn care practices outlined earlier. Certain products stay in the plant for longer periods of time and are metabolized by the plant more slowly than other herbicides.
Here at UltraLawn, we utilize these products whenever conditions are right for their use. Full program customers also receive free service calls; visits where we can come address issues and spot-treat problematic weeds between regular visits. UltraLawn is focused on proper weed control, and thorough coverage and treatment of weeds is part of the program. We utilize the best products available, and regularly change the tools in our arsenal to make sure we provide the best service possible. If you’re having problems with wild violets (or other problematic weeds), feel free to give UltraLawn a call for a free quote today!