When it comes to my lawn, I’m pretty much a live and let live kind of guy. If it’s green, it stays — and for decades my policy has worked.
I haven’t had to use poisons. Insects and wildlife seem to appreciate the blend of greens and flowering weeds. Most importantly, it’s the one aspect of gardening and home ownership that has remained stress-free.
I refuse to be a suburban slave to my lawn — at least that’s what I said until dollarweed entered my life.
I had never heard of dollarweed — also called pennywort — until I moved to Florida. In my Long Island lawn and garden, I had dandelions, clover, and crabgrass — but never dollarweed.
I first spotted dollarweed on the packaging of a weed-and-feed product. I wasn’t interested in purchasing the stuff, but I thought it strange that a weed was featured so prominently on the front with the words: “Even kills dollarweed.”
Wow, I thought, how bad can a weed be? Is it possible for a weed to be so terrifying and invasive that it could get top billing on the front of a bag of weed-and-feed? If there was such a weed, I breathed a sigh of relief that I didn’t have any in my yard.
Or did I?
There was that one weed — the one I noticed creeping through some of the beds; the one that when I pulled on it, the long, tender stem would break; the one that had roots developing at various points along the length of its stem; the one that I incorporated into my weeding game — just how much length of the weed could I pull out in one try?
Could that be dollarweed?
I compared my weed to the weed on the packaging and to online images — and the more I looked, the more it seemed my yard was awash in dollarweed. It rambled over bromeliads and quickly became kudzu-like in succulent-filled pots.
It appeared in the lawn, where it grew in large patches, weaving its way between blades of grass.
How could it spread so quickly — and one day while I was weeding, the answer was literally in the palm of my hand. Dollarweed seeds are very small and they stick to everything — and while weeding, I noticed them on my fingers, clothes, and sandals.
If the seeds could so easily stick to me, then there was a good chance the seeds were also clinging to the underside of the lawnmower.
I started researching and learned that dollarweed thrives in moist conditions. In fact, its presence in a lawn indicates poor drainage or overlapping sprinkler head zones.
That’s when it all hit me. Dollarweed wasn’t the enemy. I was. I was responsible for spreading dollarweed throughout my yard simply by doing my chores. I had provided the perfect environment for it.
It may as well have been my face on the package of weed-and-feed.
Now that I know I have a sort-of parasitic weed that lives because of me, what was I to do? Adding poison to the lawn went against my long running policy. Besides, one website even described dollarweed as the punch line in the corporate offices of poison producers. The toxins are only a temporary fix for a weed destined to return again and again. It seemed one man’s dollarweed is an industry’s dollar maker.
My solution at the moment is to clean up my gardening act:
- Clean the underside of the mower after every mow;
- Be aware of where I walk so I do not inadvertently transport dollarweed seeds around the yard;
- Use a hand trowel to help remove dollarweed and its runners and roots from the beds;
- Experiment with regular applications of vinegar to problem areas;
- Adjust the sprinkler heads and correct drainage issues.
When it comes to gardening, the last thing I want is to be dollarweed foolish and pennywort unwise.