A vast expanse of lush green grass is something many homeowners dream of when thinking about their lawn. In their nightmares, weeds begin to take over, marring the grassy fields around them. The ability to identify common weeds is an important step to having a healthy and beautiful lawn.
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea)
As its name suggests, G. hederacea is a low-growing creeping perennial. The leaves are scalloped and small, measuring up to 1 inch in width and length. When in good health, the foliage is dark green and grows in attractive masses. It has medium to dark purple blossoms appearing on stalks held 2 to 3 inches above the plant. When mown the blossoms are held closer to the plant, nestled among the foliage. Additional flower colors are blue and lavender. Creeping Charlie is controlled with careful applications of herbicides, hand pulled or smothered in dark plastic.
Purple Dead Nettle (Lamium purpureum)
Growing to 12 inches in height (though it can exceed this), L. purpureum blankets the ground and surrounding plants with its fast-growing foliage. The foliage is fuzzy, with a dark plum cast over a green background. The blossoms are pink to purple appearing like tiny snapdragon flowers. L. purpureum prefers area of disturbed soil, such as newly planted lawns and gardens. It can however, sprout in established cultivated areas. Control L. purpureum with the use of herbicides, hand pulling and prevention of seed setting (keeping the plant mown low before removal).
Violets (Viola spp.)
Viola spp. thrives in shady locations, putting further stress on grasses that only just tolerate shade. The most common color of this perennial is purple, but it can be white or yellow. Viola spp. spreads by seeds and roots. Small pieces of root can make a new plant, so use caution to get the whole plant when hand-removing. This species will grow in full shade to full sun. Viola spp. can take over large areas of the lawn. Consistent mowing will prevent seed set and keep numbers controlled until herbicides or manual removal of the plant is possible.
Smartweed (Polygonum hydropiper)
Smartweed is an annual herb that can reach nearly 4 feet in height. The stems on this plant can have a reddish-purple cast. Its leaves are lanceolate (spear-shaped) to elliptical in their shape with purple centers. The blossoms are pink and white. It produces copious amounts of seeds before dying at the end of its season. Control methods for smartweed include hand pulling, herbicides, consistent close mowing and pre-emergent application.