How to get Rid of Violets and Creeping Charlie In The Lawn

What’s up y’all - welcome to the very middle of October. I’m on the road to the GIE Expo this week but wanted to take some time and drop some tips on you.

For you cool season folks (Kentucky Bluegrass, Perennial Rye, Turf Type Tall Fescue) I’m seeing more and more reports of wild violet and creeping charlie.

Especially if you have gotten through your aeration and overseeding and are back to mowing regularly; all that watering and fertilizing you have been doing has also encouraged these weeds and now it’s time to get on top of them.

The good news is: the very best time to get after these two common viney weeds is the fall time when outside air temps are above 55F during the day (outside air temps, NOT soil temps).

The warmer the better, but as long as temps during the day are getting up over 55F for most of the day, you can get on these guys and stunt them pretty well.

And that is the first tip: Patience. These two invaders have lots of underground support structures that make them harder to kill. Multiple applications will be needed and now is as good of a time as any to get started.

Spot Sprays Only

The products I recommend below will have a tendency to stunt your turf, especially newer turf.

The labels tell you to wait until your turf is established which typically means two mowings if you seeded previously this fall.

My advice is to wait for 3 good mowings to consider your turf established.

Also, know that when you spray weed control, there is always some negative effect to your turfgrass, even if it’s been down and established for years.

You may not always see it, but it’s there. Sometimes you do see some of this negative effect but rest assured, your turf will recover.

You can also minimize turf damage from these applications by choosing to spot spray the creeping charlie and violet.

However, if you have areas that are completely covered with the stuff (which is common) then feel free to blanket spray and hope for the best.

These two weeds compete hard with turfgrass and will win in time - so it’s worth it to “spray angry” if they are really thick and go ahead and wipe them out.

Worry about the lawn later.

Here is a video showing you how to blanket spray a lawn vs spot spray.

Well worth reviewing if you haven’t sprayed in a while (the weed control in there is NOT for cool-season turf - but the spray technique is the same).


What To Use To Kill Ground Ivy and Violet

My go-to weed control here is the active ingredient Triclopyr. 2-3 applications this fall will go a long way towards you regaining ground. 

This High Yield product works great and is affordable. The mix rates are:

1.5 Tablespoons of concentrate (¾ oz)
2 Teaspoons of non-ionic surfactant
These are mixed into 1 gallon of water.

This makes an emulsion that you can spray across 1,000 sq ft of area if you are blanket spraying, or use it for spot sprays and spray until the leaves of the weeds appear wet but not dripping.

It may take a few applications and as long as your outside air temps are still over 55F during the day, you can re-apply 14 days later for a double knockout.

Here are a list of other weeds you may be seeing that this product is labeled to control, some better than others (it does well on clover and decent on thistle).

Notes: It is very important to agitate this mix thoroughly and constantly. Even while you are spraying, be sure to shake the emulsion often.

No watering for at least 24 hours after application. No mowing for at least 5 days after the application.

What About Tenacity?

Everyone loves the Tenacity, and I do too. It does work fairly well on ground ivy and violet but not as well as the recommendation above.

However, if you already have Tenacity, and want a second knockout punch, apply the Tenacity along with it.

In fact, you can add 1 teaspoon of Tenacity right into the mix you made above. No need to add more surfactant. Be sure to completely and thoroughly agitate this mix, often.

Now, if you don’t already have Tenacity, don’t go buy it just for the single purpose of knocking out creeping charlie and violets. But if you already have it, use it.

Get Out and Learn

Fall is a great time to get out and spray weeds, especially if you have not done it before.

Since the temps are cooler, there is less chance for damage if you over-apply and on top of that, we have quite a bit of growth time left in much of the country which means if you do stunt it, it has time to recover.

All that is to say, don’t be scared! Get out there and knock out those weeds now.

I’ll see you in the lawn!

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