Identifying Dollarweed

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If you're like most homeowners, you probably take great pride in your lawn. The last thing you want is for some unwanted weeds to show up and destroy your turf. If left untreated, dollarweed can be a nightmare to deal with, but we are here to help! Read on to discover how to identify and prevent dollarweed in your lawn!

What Is Dollarweed?

Dollarweed is a broadleaf, perennial lawn weed that you have likely seen in your yard from early summer through late fall. Also known as pennywort, dollarweed is actually part of the parsley family, and it is notorious for ravaging lawns that are particularly damp or moist. Given all the rainfall and humidity in Louisiana, it is no wonder that dollarweed is a common nuisance for homeowners in the Baton Rouge and Lafayette areas.

  • DID YOU KNOW? Dollarweed/pennywort are names that apply to several types of plants in the Hydrocotyle genus. Though there isn't just one species of this weed, dollarweeds of any kind will always be low-growing, water-loving eyesores that steal nutrients from your lawn!

What Does Dollarweed Look Like?

up close dollarweed

As a true broadleaf weed, you can identify dollarweed by its wide, almost-perfectly round leaves that are often said to resemble tiny lily pads. These leaves typically measure about 2 inches across, and they are characterized by slightly scalloped edges.

Veins can be seen throughout a single leaf, and they all emanate from a single stem. Though many low-growing weeds have similar appearances, you can usually differentiate dollarweed by identifying a stem in the center of the leaf rather than towards the edge like many other broadleaf weeds.

You may also be able to identify dollarweed by finding a small cluster of delicate, star-shaped, white flowers emerging among the leaves. These flowers typically bloom during summer when the plant matures. However, identifying dollarweed before it flowers is the best way to control it, so it is very important you know what to look for.

Key Characteristics:

  • Rounded, lily pad-like leaves
  • Small, white flowers
  • Outward, prostrate growth
  • Veins visible on leaves
  • Centralized stem
  • No taller than 6 inches

When & Where Does Dollarweed Grow?

Large Puddle Formed On A Lawn

In terms of timing, dollarweed typically germinates during late spring and early summer when temperatures start to rise. From then on out, it will continue to spread across your lawn throughout the heart of summer. Dollarweed thrives in the sunlight, so you often find it growing in exposed locations where there are no trees or other obstructions blocking its light.

Dollarweed can be found in practically any lawn or grass type, but it tends to thrive in wet and damp areas of warm-season lawns with high humidity and plenty of sunshine. Of course, this makes the South the most likely place to encounter dollarweed in the country, but warmer coastal areas are also vulnerable. If you notice that any of the following situations/conditions apply to your lawn, then your grass is at a high risk of a dollarweed invasion:

  • Poor Drainage
  • Excessive Irrigation
  • 75 - 90 ℉ Temperatures
  • Open Sunlight
  • Warm-Season Turf
  • Excessive Foot Traffic

How Does Dollarweed Spread?

dollarweed roots and stems

The roots of dollarweed are notoriously difficult to deal with once they take hold in your lawn. Dollarweed grows in a prostrate, ground-covering manner, with stems that grow outward and take root wherever their nodes make contact with the soil surface. Unfortunately, dollarweed can also spread by seed, which makes it extra important to remove these weeds before they start flowering in late spring and summer.

  • PREVENT DEFENSE! As a perennial, dollarweed will keep coming back as long as temperatures are warm enough. Once established, a single dollarweed plant can live in your lawn for up to 2 years. Because it spreads by both seeds and rhizomes, completely eradicating mature dollarweed can pose challenges, which is why prevention is so important.

How To Control Dollarweed

Brothers Lawn Care Mowing

If left unchecked, dollarweed can quickly become a matted, tangled mess that will destroy your lawn. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent dollarweed from ever emerging in the first place. Be sure to check out our fertilization and weed control page for more specific information on how Brothers Lawn Service combats harmful weeds.

  • Water Less - This may sound counterproductive to proper lawn care, but overwatering is one of the leading causes of dollarweed. You should water deeply and infrequently, and stick to early-morning schedules to your lawn has all day to absorb the water.
  • Aerate Your Lawn - Compacted soils lead to standing water, which will always lead to a dollarweed invasion. Aeration in fall and spring will allow your lawn to drain properly, which clears up the conditions that attract dollarweed the most.
  • Mow Higher - As a low-growing summertime weed, dollarweed can be suffocated by taller grass blocking out its access to sunlight. If you notice dollarweeds forming, start setting your mower deck about an inch higher than normal.
  • Don't Pull - If you take anything away from this article, it should be that hand-pulling dollarweeed is not effective in most situations. The root system of this weed makes it very difficult to completely pull it up without leaving behind fragments that will grow into new weeds. Instead, you can apply metsulfuron methyl or 2, 4-D directly to the mature weed. Be sure to call your local lawn care provider for the best weed control treatments in your area.