How to Get Rid of Wild Violets

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Violets are a native wildflower known to favor thickets, woods, and a stream’s banks.  They are low-growing perennial with a combination of large blue-purple flowers with heart-shaped leaves. 

Depending on the location, they usually blooms from early spring into the summer’s first months.

With its close relationship with violas, pansies, and other such garden varieties, these purple flowers is not always as revered as its immediate family members.  In fact, many people see wild violets as more of a lawn weed that commons back year after year.

Along with their beauty, the flowers and leaves are edible, containing a high level of both Vitamins A and C.  They are great as an addition to salads and delicious cooked along with greens.  For generations, the flowers have been made into jellies and jams.

Identification

Violets are pretty simple to identify and are typically known to grow almost anywhere.  They are also recognized by their habit of low growth, presenting with waxy, heart-shaped leaves.

They traditionally have purple flowers but have been known to be found with yellow and white coloring as well. 

They prefer to grow in clumps and commonly achieve a height of four to six inches—although they have been known at times to get taller.

Lawns that are not maintained sufficiently are usually the most susceptible to the massive colonization and spread of wild violets.  The flowers prefer the shadier areas of a property, and it is in these areas that they are known to start their takeover. 

Being that the flowers will grow in lawns in those USDA hardiness zones of 3-9, there are most assuredly very few homeowners in the eastern to the midwestern US that haven’t had to deal with them at one time another.

Getting Rid of Wild Violets

Remove Them by Hand

One of the most tedious methods available is to pull them one by one by hand.  Although this method will guarantee that you will get most, if not all, of the plant’s roots out, crawling around on your lawn on your knees can be both tedious and strenuous. 

With that said, controlling violets by hand is doable. However, you will need to diligently inspect your lawn for any new patches to prevent the plant from having the chance to spread and take hold. 

The younger it is, the easier it will be to pull by hand.  To aid in the pulling process, make sure to saturate the area relatively well with water or start pulling after it rains. Wait about a half-hour for the ground to soften up. 

The watering will serve to loosen the soil up and allow the act of pulling the plant much more manageable.  You will then grasp the flower, near the ground, by its main stem’s base and pull straight up. 

Violets have a relatively shallow system of roots, which offers ease of removal from the lawn.

Applying Weed Killer

Fall is undoubtedly the optimal time of year to tackle your weed problem.  Since violets are a perennial weed, they also have a long taproot, and as such, many individuals have problems completely ridding their lawns of them. 

For the most effective results, use a broadleaf killer. A broadleaf killer will eliminate these invasive plants without doing damage to your lawn.

For instance, you can use Dicamba or a killer that contains 2,4-D to kill the the flowers selectively without resulting in any damage to the surrounding turf itself.

You can also consider using quinclorac, which is an herbicide that is sold in several other weed control products.

No matter which treatment you settle on, one application will not get the job done.  It will take a course of multiple treatments, most preferably in the fall months. Herbicides are much more effective in the fall months as they will be able to translocate down to the taproot and have better results.

Violets are often viewed as invasive species

Reasons to Keep Them on Your Lawn

It undeniable that even though they can be somewhat invasive, violets are pretty flowers.  The flowers bloom in the early months of spring and bloom rather often—and as a result, not everyone sees them as weeds. 

There are those homeowners that are known to choose to let them grow in their lawns and elsewhere on their property.

There are a few reasons why you might want to let violets grow on your lawn:

  • They offer the ability for low maintenance of lawns.
  • You will able to avoid the use of any type of chemical or herbicide to combat them.
  • They are a favorite amongst all types of pollinators—including bees.
  • If there an area of your property that you are having a problem with growing grass, violets, with their love of shady, moist areas, can prove to make them an excellent ground cover.
  • They are considered a native species, and as such, they are beneficial additions to a natural landscape design.

Finally, many are not aware that the violet is officially classified as a weed safe for consumption.  Both the flowers and the stems are safe to eat, and the leaves of the younger plants have a pleasant, somewhat nutty flavor.  In addition, many individuals use parts of the flowers medicinally.  The acid in the leaves is said to break down and eliminate corns and warts.

Whether you see the perennial violet as a flower to be enjoyed or a weed that needs to be eradicated, they will pop up on your lawn yearly. There are several means to eradicate them, from pulling by hand or using an herbicide.  The most important takeaway to remember is that you need to identify them and use caution in their removal, making sure to use the best means available for the task.

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Happy Planting!

About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.

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