The Q&A Archives: Violet Weeds

Question: Hello. I am doing some landscaping in my front yard. My yard has a portion that is steeply sloped. Some years ago my parents tried to landscape the slope and had the grass removed and then had mulch put down. The yard was neglected for some years and in the mulched area they got massive amounts of violets. I have turned all the soil and pulled as many of the root systems from the violets as I could dig out. Already the violets have started to return. Is there some weed control that I can put down that will kill the violets and not kill the plants that I will use to relandscape the area? I have looked at some of the weed killers available and none of them say that they would kill violets specifically? Also, which plants can I/should I use as ground cover after I'm finished preparing the soil.

Thank you for your help.

Answer: Getting rid of violets is no easy task. I'd recommend you wait until this fall to do any relandscaping so that you're sure you've eradicated the weedy violets.

Established colonies of wild violets are very drought tolerant, due to fleshy underground stems called rhizomes that store water and allow the plants to survive dry conditions. The rhizomes also allow the plants to spread, forming colonies. These extensive perennial root systems are one reason the weeds can be so difficult to control.

Controlling wild violets in a lawn or landscape can be a difficult challenge, and will certainly require more than one herbicide application before it is accomplished. Violets should be targeted for control in fall as they are preparing to go into winter. Plants take in herbicides most readily during this time. Very poor control is the usual result of attempts to control violets during the summer. Dicamba and triclopyr are two herbicides often included in products providing control of violets. Read the product labels carefully, making sure that violets are listed on the label, before buying any herbicide product.

The waxy coating on violet leaves causes liquid herbicides to quickly run off the leaf after application, with little chemical being taken in by the plant. For this reason, herbicide applications targeted at violets should include a spreader-sticker. This product helps the chemical ?stick? on the weed leaves better, resulting in better herbicide absorption and thus giving better control.

Once you've eradicated the violets, you can plant anything, including groundcovers in the spot.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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