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.
10 thoughts on “Dollarweed Makes No Sense”
Ha, a funny post about what looks like quite a serious weed! Props to you for trying to get rid of it without resorting to chemicals. Good luck!
That weed looked awfully familiar to me so I just checked my well-thumbed copy of Weeds of the Northeast and dollarweed isn’t in the Index. Also checked its alternate nickname of “pennywort”…nope. There’s “pennycress” and “thoroughwort” but no pennywort. Guess it is one of those ‘blessings’ of living in the South? 😉
What I want to know is, when did inflation alter your weed’s nickname from Pennywort to Dollarweed? 😉
Haha. Good one, M’Lady!
I learned about dollarweed around the same time you did. It is also very “popular“ in hungary. My only (temporary) solution is currently weeding with a rake.
How is your experience with it in the last 4 years?
Hi there. What I have found works the best is mowing my lawn at a higher setting. My lawnmower has a recommended height, but I adjusted it to the next height setting. It means that I have to mow more frequently, especially in summer and to keep the weeds from flowering and self-sowing, but keeping my grass longer seems to make it healthier so it chokes out the weeds. In addition, the height also creates deeper shadows in the grass, preventing sunlight from helping to germinate the weed seeds. I hope this helps.
Thank you. This is what I tried also. Unfortunately (fortunately) I’m living in a relatively moist area, therefore in case there is a small shadow on the grass, then there’s just enough water for the dollar weed.
We just had a month of drought combined with my rake, I’m more or less free of it now.
You really did your homework to figure out the weed’s habits! I only wish I could loan Darwin to you for awhile, Kevin. He would absolutely love to chow down on that lovely greenery. I pull spurge and other very “meaty” weeds and feed them to him so at least there’s that as an upside to the otherwise pesky problem of weeds. Dollarweed is an invasive irritant, I understand, but at last it’s kind of pretty! 🙂
Hi Debra — so, I need a turtle for my yard. If a turtle can also keep iguanas away, then I’m sold! 🙂
I too am a transplant to the south from the NYC area. In coastal Georgia I found it growing in my empty (plant-less) potting plants. I did not know what is was and thought it looked pretty so I let it grow. It’s funny how we humans, decide that a growing plant is a weed and is undesirable and we choose to launch a poison campaign against it’s existence. As the author points out Dandelions are a good example. They are actually quite beautiful and both the flowers and leafs are edible and it makes a great wine. It will however take over your lawn. So, should you desire the perfect suburban lawn it is a nuisance but it can be part an attractive flowering field. Likewise, Dollarweed can often grow where most things cannot and serve as perfect groundcover in the sandy coastal soil under my live-oaks. In addition to being very attractive (like small waterlily) they are also edible and delicious. “These “annoying” plants are quite close to celery in terms of taste, and can be served as a raw delicacy if SHTF [survival, hunting, trapping, fishing]. The leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Dollar weed is a close cousin of Gotu Kola, which is widely known for its use in traditional Asian cooking and medicine. If you consume dollar weed, make sure you wash it thoroughly to avoid the risk of ingesting herbicides which are widely used to control this plant in lawns and gardens.”
Thanks for commenting, James… In the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.”