What to do with the bevy of broadleaf weeds flowering in lawns

Dandelions, violets and ivy, oh my! Many weeds are currently flowering in turfgrass, but not all require control.

Dandelion puff ball stage. Photo credit: Kevin Frank, MSU

Dandelion puff ball stage. Photo credit: Kevin Frank, MSU

In the last week, dandelions have been lighting up the landscape with their brilliant yellow flowers. In most areas, the first flush of dandelion flowers has come and gone and now the puff ball stage is in full effect. According to Michigan State University Extension, applying an herbicide at the puff ball stage can be very effective as this is the time the dandelion is at its weakest because it has just spent all that energy pushing out flowers.

In addition to dandelions, many other broadleaf weeds are flowering in turf right now. Common chickweed, henbit, shepherd’s purse, yellow rocket, corn speedwell, wild violet and ground ivy are all flowering. All but wild violet and ground ivy are winter annuals. The life cycle of a winter annual is they germinate in the fall, overwinter, and then flower and produce seed in the spring. After flowering in the spring, winter annuals are usually only two to three weeks from dying.

If you apply herbicides now, they will be dead and gone in two to three weeks and if you do nothing, they will be dead and gone in two to three weeks. Get it? On the other hand, now is the second best time, behind fall, to control perennial broadleaf weeds that are flowering such as ground ivy and wild violet.

Wild violet flowering in turf
Wild violet flowering in turf. Photo credit: Kevin Frank, MSU

If you have any questions about weed identification or recommendations to control weeds in turf areas, make sure to visit MSUTurfWeeds.net.

Dr. Frank’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.

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