Answer: Violets, Viola spp., are often found in shady areas of thin turf where the soil is moist and poorly drained. Some people find them troublesome, but others welcome their pretty bluish-lavender flowers in spring. Violets are perennial, meaning they will come back year after year and given the opportunity will spread via seeds.
Here are a few approaches you can take:
1. Live with the violets. A few violets can be attractive. All you may need to do is improve the health of the lawn so the lawn can better compete.
2. Hand pull or dig violets. Small areas or scattered plants can be hand pulled or dug. A good followup strategy is to then improve the health of the turf so new plants will be choked out.
3. Spot treat. If you have a few scattered plants or a few confined areas, spot treat with an herbicide such as glyphosate (Roundup, Kleenup). THIS CHEMICAL WILL ALSO KILL GRASS so direct the chemical only on the individual weeds or use to kill areas where the soil will be improved and grass replanted. Spot treating can also be done with the herbicide, triclopyr (Turflon). It will selectively kill violets and not damage the grass. After killing the violets, it is necessary to improve the health of the lawn or the problem will just reoccur.
4. Use chemical herbicides. If large areas of lawn are affected, violets can be killed selectively with Trimec (a combination of 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba) or trichlopyr (Turflon). Turflon is the herbicide of choice for the lawn industry, but Trimec is more readily available. Two or more applications may be needed. Improve the health of the lawn to reduce the reoccurrence of violets. If large areas of lawn are in poor condition, it is best to kill the entire lawn in late summer, improve the soil, and reseed in the fall.
5.Improve lawn maintenance. Once the immediate problem is under control using one of the methods above, the only long-term solution is to improve the vigor of the grass so it will choke out new plants before they become established. Steps may include reducing the amount of shade, improving soil drainage, watering turf during dry spells, and selecting grasses well adapted to local conditions. In general the turf-type fine fescues will compete better than Kentucky bluegrass. Mow high to help shade out weeds. It is especially important not to scalp shaded areas by mowing too low.
Best wishes with your lawn!
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