They stick out like a sore thumb, clashing with your lush green lawn and creating misery for lawn owners everywhere. The word weed almost sounds like a bad word. But there they are, sprouting from your North Carolina lawn once again. Unfortunately, some weeds are just more stubborn than others and harder to control. Learn about four of the most challenging weeds we have here in North Carolina and what you can do to prevent and eliminate them.
This warm-season perennial is one of the most challenging weeds to control. Surprisingly, it was brought to the United States on purpose back in the 1800s as a fast-growing forage plant that could survive our southern climate. Unfortunately, it liked its new environment so much, and it soon grew out of control. Because of that, we have dallisgrass in abundance here in North Carolina. It affects both warm and cool-season types of grass, but it is tough to control in tall fescue lawns. It’s often mistaken for crabgrass with a coarse texture that grows in a circular clump. Instead, look for blades of grass with hairs along the edge with rounded tufts.
Dallisgrass Prevention and Control
The first line of defense against dallisgrass is to maintain a healthy, thick lawn through proper fertilization, watering, and mowing. Fill bare spots quickly with seed or sod to prevent dallisgrass seeds from taking over. A pre-emergent herbicide toxic to crabgrass will also be an effective dallisgrass killer, but the herbicides must be applied by spray and watered into the soil to be completely successful. A post-emergent herbicide will also work for continued control but must be applied several times for multiple weeks. Digging out the plant, along with its roots, may be the most effective control.
It may look like a flower, but that wild-growing plant with purple flowers in your yard is really a wild violet. Some people consider them a lovely addition to their garden and landscape. We are certainly not knocking that. But for others, they are a bothersome weed, and they are very hard to control. This perennial plant grows low to the ground, is short with heart-shaped leaves, and white to purple flowers. These persistent invaders have dense, fibrous root systems and are typically found in moist, shady areas. They can, however, grow in sunny, dry areas as well. Their flowers and leaves are actually edible and are thought to contain medicinal qualities.
Their leaves contain a waxy substance that makes it especially hard for herbicides to combat them. Underneath the ground, wild violets have thick clumps of underground stems, called rhizomes, which store water and help make the plant drought-resistant. These rhizomes are stubborn survivors, and when the plant is hand-picked and plucked from the ground, new shoots are sent forth.
Wild Violet Prevention and Control
So, what can you do? Like with dallisgrass, the best way to prevent a wild violet takeover is through a healthy, well-maintained lawn. Thick, dense grass will help keep the roots from spreading. Fall is the best time to tackle wild violets. Herbicides can work but must be applied with care. To get the herbicide to stick better to the waxy surface, try mixing in dish soap.
Another very aggressive weed is nutsedge, also known as nutgrass. This is because it looks a lot like grass. Here in North Carolina, we have purple and yellow nutsedge. Yellow nutsedge’s leaves are grasslike and yellow-green and the spiky flower or seed head is yellow. Yellow nutsedge can be distinguished from good grasses by its V-shaped stem.
Purple nutsedge tends to have darker green leaves and produces a reddish-purple flower. Nutsedge likes to invade and infect your garden and surrounding greenery. And it won’t stop when it’s done infesting your lawn. It will infest both your grass, garden, and anything it can attack.
Nutsedge Prevention and Control
In order to control and prevent this perennial weed, one must understand it. It reproduces primarily by small underground tubers, called nutlets, that form at the end of underground stems, called rhizomes. A single plant can produce several hundred of these tubers during the summer. If only a few are present, hand pulling is an option. However, you must remove the entire plant including the tubers. Herbicides may be required when large patches of nutsedge are present.
You’ve probably seen butterweed in fields or farms while traveling along the highway. It is a beautiful weed that often signifies the start of spring. It stretches from Florida to North Carolina and along the Atlantic coast to Virginia. Butterweed is a winter annual that germinates in late summer to early fall. At first, it’s just a cluster of leaves. But once it overwinters, it grows up to three feet tall. Between late April through early May, it produces bright, yellow flowers. Much like the dandelion, its flowers form a puffball that blows seeds in the wind. It is an aggressive plant growing at rapid rates. It grows well in wet and sunny areas but prefers fields and vacant spaces.
Bees and other insects are attracted to butterweeds that feed on their nectar. Unfortunately, its leaves contain poisons that are deadly to cattle, horses, goats, and humans. This is why it is so detrimental to farmers of livestock.
Butterweed Prevention and Control
There are specific herbicides on the market designed to control butterweed, but you will have to apply them monthly to control it. You can also pull them out by hand, but it’s important to get the entire stems and roots since these weeds need only a small remnant to re-establish themselves.
Difficult Weeds Are No Match for Impeccable Lawns
Does all of this sound like a lot of work? Trying to combat these challenging weeds can be time-consuming and exhausting. So, leave it to the professionals. At Impeccable Lawns, we offer effective weed control as part of our lawn fertilization package to help prevent and eliminate these hard to control weeds. We use both a pre and post-emergent in the spring and fall, as well as a weed control application that will help keep your lawn green and weed-free year-round.