Need help controlling violets?

Wild violets are one of the most persistent and difficult weeds to control. Even the untrained eye can spot violets in a stand of turf. The purple flowers in the spring are just a reminder that they are still there and growing. Violets are a rhizome so they continue to spread and push up new shoots, slowly conquering the landscape you work so hard to  manicure.

A patch of violets

Please help me get rid of these violets

Violets are a point of pain for any homeowner embattled in the backyard. This presents a great sales opportunity on a new property but you have to be careful when making promises.

The most important part of treating violets is setting a reasonable expectation with your customer. You can’t make a promise to rid a yard of violets in one season, it just won’t work. Your customer will be more angry with your lies than if you were just honest about the difficulty from the start. Explain to a prospect the truth about violets. Violets are difficult to control and  over time a homeowner will see slow incremental improvement. Customers appreciate honesty, especially from a salesperson, in a world where the biggest lawn provider says anything for a sale and customers are lied to often, you can seem like a fresh breath of air.

What can they expect when it comes to getting rid of violets? Typically in my experience violets will never fully disappear but they can be managed to a point where they go unnoticed within two to three seasons of treatment.

The not so intimidating flowers of a violet

I usually share an anecdote with my customers when it comes to violets. This is a true story from my personal experience, feel free to make it your own.

When I was a young landscape tech my sole purpose in this world was total vegetation control. All I did was round up treatments ten hours a day. We had sold a job, in a large lawn, to eliminate violets. As the “veg man” I was responsible for this job. The entire lawn, all eighty thousand square feet, had been overcome with wild violets. I treated the entire lawn, corner to corner, twice! My mix was pretty hot and consisted of Razor Pro, Dismiss, and Triplet Low Odor. Every last stitch of turf went down. It looked as if I had lit the lawn on fire. My company went in to that property with a seed-a-vator and installed a new lawn. It came in beautifully and for a short time, that fall, it was the best lawn on the street. What happened next is a true testament to the resilience of violets. The following spring I passed by that house and once again the entire lawn had purple violets in bloom everywhere. I could not believe it. I had expected some, I hoped for none, and I got violets everywhere.

It goes to show there is no quick fix.

Remember that when in flower all weeds are easier to control.

The control procedure
Everyone has their own method for control and I hope you will share yours in the comments below. What works in my experience, in New England, is hitting hard with triplet or any other three-way herbicide early in the season and again when the weed goes into flower. Next, in the summertime, I like to use the product quicksilver (Carfentrazone-ethyl 21.3%). This product burns down the leaf which puts stress on the roots, especially in a drought or dry period. In the fall providing Aeration and seeding thin areas well will help the lawn choke out any weeds. It is recommended to mow high. If you are cutting the lawn above the violets they won’t be getting as much sun. High turf also helps to hide violets from sight.

I have heard of people digging out a few inches of soil to remove violets but I have no experience with this and therefore can not comment. That doesn’t mean you can’t share your experience below in the comment section.

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