It’s spring time and that means lawn time! As the grass starts greening and growing, so do the weeds. Many different weeds emerge during spring, but two of the more difficult-to-control weeds in home lawns are ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) and wild violets (Viola spp.). Long-term control of these prolific weeds requires an integrated management program.
Ground ivy (a.k.a. Creeping Charlie) is a perennial weed found in lawns grown in the transition zone and northward. Ground ivy spreads by stolons and can form dense canopies that shade the turf. Its leaves are rounded with wavy margins and two lobes that typically overlap where the stem meets the leaf. Ground ivy can be found throughout the entire lawn, but it does prefer wet and shaded areas. Additionally, ground ivy can be an indicator of acidic soils.
Wild violet is a common name used for many different violet species. As the name suggests, wild violets have attractive purple, blue, or white flowers. However, wild violets are a mainly a troublesome weed when a dense turfgrass lawn is desired. They are also perennial weeds, but they spread by large underground rhizomes. Leaves are often spade or heart-shaped with small, serrated margins and a glossy surface. Similar to ground ivy, wild violets can be found throughout the entire lawn, but it does prefer wet and shaded areas.
How to Control
Ground ivy and wild violet control techniques are similar, and it all starts with growing a healthy, dense turfgrass. Select the appropriate turfgrass species and variety specific for the lawn. For example, fine and turf-type tall fescues can provide higher turfgrass quality in moderate shade. The right turfgrass for a specific environment is more competitive against weeds.
Some additional steps to help control ground ivy and wild violet:
- Increase the turfgrass mowing height. This allows the turfgrass to capture more light to negate the shading effects caused by dense weed canopies.
- Correct any drainage issues in the area and/or reduce irrigation amounts. Ground ivy and wild violet prefer wet areas.
- Increase the amount of light the turfgrass receives by trimming or removing trees. Ground ivy and wild violet also love shaded areas.
These are fundamental turfgrass management principles that can mitigate the need for numerous herbicide applications.
While control begins with cultural practices, herbicide applications are often warranted. Because ground ivy and wild violet are perennial weeds, a post-emergent herbicide is most effective in controlling them. Most herbicides offer optimum results when applications are made when the weeds are active and growing, especially in spring and fall.
Complete selective control of ground ivy and wild violet can be very difficult. These are very aggressive weeds that require certain active ingredients for better control. Examples of those active ingredients widely used in turfgrass are fluroxypyr, metsulfuron, quinclorac, and triclopyr. It is best to use products that contain at least one of these active ingredients in addition to others such as 2,4-D, carfentrazone, dicamba, MCPP, MCPA, and sulfentrazone. Be sure to read each label carefully as turfgrass tolerance can vary with each active ingredient.
One highly effective herbicide PBI-Gordon offers for ground ivy and wild violet control is TZone™ SE Broadleaf Herbicide for Tough Weeds. TZone SE is a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide with the active ingredient combination of triclopyr + sulfentrazone + 2,4-D + dicamba. TZone is a water-based formulation that delivers 0.25 lb. triclopyr per acre. Moreover, the triclopyr and 2,4-D are both in ester forms, which make it more effective in cooler weather.
Ground ivy and wild violet are two difficult-to-control weeds in home lawns in the transition zone and northward. With proper cultural management practices and herbicide applications where needed, you can achieve long-term control. Prior to any herbicide application, read the herbicide label carefully and follow the best management practices for herbicide applications to reduce turfgrass injury. Integrating these different management practices can lead to a beautiful turfgrass lawn with minimal ground ivy and wild violet weeds.