Violas in my lawn

(Question)

Many years ago, my garden had violas. Now they are no longer in the garden but in my lawn in pockets. I’ve tried pulling them out by hand but I just can’t seem to get rid of them … I would appreciate any helpful hints.

(Answer)

There are many Viola species, but the wild violet, common in many Toronto lawns (and a frequent migrant from borders), vexes many gardeners. The expert advice is pretty consistent: this is a tough little plant to eradicate.

It is useful to understand how wild violets grow, because this is what makes them so tenacious: they are designed for survival. Wild violets reproduce by rhizomes, underground stems which send up new shoots when disturbed (by pulling, digging or cutting, for example). Wild violets have two kinds of flowers. There are the familiar blooms that we know so well, which may be sterile – that is, unable to produce viable seeds – but in addition, hiding underneath the leaves for protection, there is another set of very plain flowers with no petals that produce the viable seeds that the wild violet needs for reproduction.

Wild violets are cool season perennials that like shady, moist soil. In order to eradicate them, the best likelihood for success is a combination of hand-digging, which will eventually starve the root systems, and improving your turf conditions, that is, making sure the grass in your lawn is as strong and vigorous as it can be to prevent the establishment of weeds. You can do this by improving your soil’s drainage, making sure that your lawn is irrigated, sowing grass seed that is best suited to your conditions, and mowing slightly higher so that there are no bare patches to encourage weed germination.

This is a long game, to be sure, but the persistent approach appears to be the best solution.

You may wish to read the article below for additional information:

 

https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/gardens-gardening/your-garden/help-for-the-home-gardener/advice-tips-resources/pests-and-problems/weeds/violets.aspx