I have been keeping a secret. I have known for two years how to kill violets in fescue lawns. I just haven’t been able to give you the information – until now. (This was written in 1999)
You see, I hang out quite a bit with Dr. Tim Murphy, Extension Weed expert nonpareil. Tim knows all about the weed killer chemicals that experts use. He informed me years ago that the chemical triclopyr gives excellent violet control – but, at the time, it was only obtainable in products available to professionals.
Being an astute reader of the labels on the homeowner products I see at garden centers, I noted that triclopyr is the active ingredient in Ortho Brush-B-Gon and Enforcer Brush Killer. When I asked Tim about this, he cautioned me that according to Federal regulations, it is illegal to use a pesticide in a way that is not described on the label. The label on the two products I had found did not mention lawn use. Therefore, I could not tell you to use triclopyr on your lawn to kill weeds.
Recently, though, I found a NEW triclopyr product on the shelves: Ortho Weed-B-Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer. The label specifically describes its use on lawns – and that is GREAT news for violet haters!
USE ON FESCUE, ZOYSIA I have seen the effects of triclopyr on violets, wild strawberry and ground ivy in my own fescue lawn. Two weeks after spraying, most of the weeds have curled up and turned yellow. With a second spray three weeks after the first one, 90 percent of the weeds were controlled. Fescue grass is the best choice for lawns in partial shade – but these conditions also favor violets. That is why violets are such a troublesome and hard-to-control weed. Triclopyr can not be sprayed on a newly sprouted lawn until after it has been mowed a few times. Wait at least three weeks after using this chemical before planting fescue seed. The label also allows use on zoysia lawns plus ryegrass and bentgrass.
NOT ON BERMUDA, CENTIPEDE If you have bermuda, centipede or St. Augustine grass, you’ll have to continue using other chemicals. Triclopyr is not labeled for use on these grasses. Use one of the “three way” broadleaf weed killers (Weed Stop, Ace Lawn Weed Killer, Wipe-Out, etc.) on your weeds instead. Atrazine (Purge) is labeled for broadleaf weed control in centipede and St. Augustine lawns.
READ THE LABEL I continue to be troubled by incomprehensible lawn chemical labels. In defense of the manufacturers, they must fit lots of information in a small space. Federal regulations require various warning messages in a specific format. Usage instructions and a list of pests controlled must be prominent. Most of all, the chemical package has to be attractive and convenient to use in order to attract buyers. More often than not, though, I see consumers with puzzled faces peering at products displayed on the lawn chemical aisle, trying to decide which is best for their problem. I have also overheard nursery employees admitting they are unable to decipher a product label.
My advice is to buy lawn chemicals when you’re not in a hurry, take time to read the label completely and don’t buy a product until you’re sure it will do what you intend.
OR LEAVE THEM ALONE Remember too that you always have the option to leave the violets be. The flower is attractive and if you don’t mind them mixing with your lawn grass they are just as green as any other plant. In addition, despite the chemical-heavy advice above, the BEST weed control is a lawn that is vigorous and well-maintained.
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