Pest of the Month: Doveweed
Doveweed is an aggressive summer annual turfgrass weed. Its long leaves resemble St. Augustine grass in appearance, so this weed can grow unnoticed for some time. But doveweed doesn't just invade St. Augustine grass, it also takes hold in Bermuda, hybrid Bermuda, and zoysia grass.
Not only can doveweed be an annoyance to people who are trying to grow turfgrass, it can also cause serious contact dermatitis for dogs that come in contact with the weed.
How to identify doveweed:
Doveweed can be identified by its thick, grass-like leaves that resemble leaves of St. Augustine grass and centipedegrass. However, it can be distinguished from these turfgrasses by its bright-green color. It produces clusters of small blue to purple flowers that originate from a short stalk near leaf nodes
How to avoid doveweed in your lawn:
This weed prefers wet areas, so drainage issues or over-watering will favor the establishment and growth of this weed. For this reason, ensuring irrigation is not excessive is a key management practice to control this problem. Another cultural practice that plays a major role in doveweed management is mowing. Mowing too short and too frequently will favor doveweed because its leaves will grow horizontally avoiding the mower blades. Choose a mowing height that allows good ground cover, yet only removes a third of the turf leaf blades. If mowing a St. Augustine lawn, we recommend mowing above 4.5" when fighting doveweed.
How to manage dove weed in your lawn:
Once the weeds are established, they grow vigorously. When managing doveweed, use an integrated management approach. As always, a healthy lawn is the best defense. Healthy turfgrass can outcompete weeds. Pre Emergent herbicides can help; be sure to read the label first and closely follow the directions.
If these lawn weeds are caught early enough and you prefer to DIY your lawn weed control program, reducing irrigation and hand-pulling is the most effective way to keep these weeds from spreading. However, they do spread rapidly so it will be a good bit of elbow grease to get it under control.
If it is too far gone for hand weed control, then herbicides rated for use in your specific turfgrass that control doveweed can be used. Please note as the weed is a vigorous grower, it will take repeated treatments (following the label instructions) to get control. The hardest time of year for doveweed control in Gainesville is summer, as the daily rains can render your applications useless - allowing the weed to thrive.
If you are on a lawn program, controlling these weeds takes attention early in the season - because once they get established it will be an ongoing battle.
If you're tired of fighting the battle for weed control in your Gainesville lawn, call our office at (352) 378-LAWN or fill out our online form so we can schedule a meeting to discuss how we can help!