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How to control buttonweedButtonweed Control Tips and Recommendations

One of the most problematic weeds in the transition zone and in warm season areas are buttonweed, particularly the Virginia buttonweed. As summertime dwindles down into the fall season, we see quite an uptick in customers calling Solutions to ask about how to deal with buttonweed so we thought we’d address it right here.

Virginia buttonweed (Diodia virginiana) is one of the leading weeds which invade lawns in the Southern part of the U.S. and can creep and spread onto lawns in a very short period of time. Buttonweed is a warm-season perennial weed that begins growing in spring and grows through the summer. By the time fall arrives, the thick matting growth from buttonweed can actually crowd out lawn grass in patches where it grows.

Virginia buttonweed is source of frustration for even the most seasoned lawn maintainers as it’s not easily controlled by most lawn weed killers you’d find at your local garden center or big-box store. It is one of the most difficult broadleaf lawn weeds to keep in check. For a pesky persistent weeds such as this, it’d be wise to break out the professional grade herbicides we carry at Solutions Pest and Lawn.

Check out our top recommended products to get rid of buttonweed below. For more information on controlling buttonweed on your lawn and to get personalized advice and a plan of action from experts, contact us at askapro@solutionsstores.com or call our customer service line at (800) 479-6583.



Step One: Identification It's important to identify the type of weed you have to make sure that it is actually buttonweed and not some other similar looking invasive weed. Knowing the exact weed you are encountering on your lawn will help you to understand what the weeds tendencies and characteristics are and also which one of our products can best treat that particular weed. This is important because some more stubborn weeds have a high tolerance or resistence to particular herbicides and control methods and are specifically labeled for certain weeds and not for others. If you misdiagnose the weed on your lawn as buttonweed when it's in fact not, you may purchase a herbicide not meant to tackle it and it will lead to disappointing results and overall, a waste of money. We don't want that.  If you are unsure of what weed you have, you can contact us at identification@solutionsstores.com and send us a photo of your weed and we will identify it for you and suggest treatment options.


Step Two: Inspection. Once the plant has been properly Identified, you can then move to the inspection process. Chances are, if you have buttonweed, they are not hard to miss and they stick out like a sore thumb on your lawn amongst your desired grass and vegetation. Buttonweed is a creeping spreading perennial weed that can cover large areas over a short period of time. Buttonweeds not only produces seed but it also spreads through root systems called rhizomes. It can also spread if you mow the lawn and don't bag your clipping because it can re-establish and replant itself. The branch stems are usually hairy and the weed is dark green on the top side and a lighter green on the bottom.


Step Three: Control. Handpicking these weeds is not usually effective so after the area has been surveyed you can then move on to using herbicides. Broadleaf weed killer such as MSM Turf Herbicide (Manor) or Certainty Turf Herbicide which are an economical option that are focused on targeting broadleaf weeds.  Be sure to read and follow label directions so you get the proper application and mixing rates. Make sure to spot spray rather than do a broadcast application of your entire yard.


Step Four: Prevention. The best defense against ground ivy is a thick lush lawn that is properly maintained and well-fed. A lawn should also never be scalped by mowing. A thick dense lawn that is well-fertilized will be better able to choke out weeds and not allow them room to establish. Solutions carries various fertilizers that you can purchase to give your yard a steady diet of essential nutrients. Also mowing regularly and collecting the clippings is a must to keep buttonweed from creeping back up.

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Learn more about Button Weed

Buttonweed comes in two forms, both of which can be persistent weeds in lawns, so it's best to be able to tell the difference between the two before proceeding with a control program. Common buttonweed has narrower, more pointed leaves compared to Virginia buttonweed. Virginia buttonweed is the tougher weed to control due to it being a perennial that grows back for several years. 

One of the problems with this weed is that not only does it produces seeds but it also spreads through underground root systems called rhizomes. When mowing it, if you happen to leave the broken pieces of plant where they’ve been cut, they can go back into the ground and reroot and continue the spreading. Buttonweed can tolerate very low mowing heights of even as low of ½ an inch. Mowing high would be a good way to combat this to keep this weed from becoming a real problem.

If you wish to get rid of buttonweed by hand and there isn't a large outbreak, pull young plants when the soil is damp. This weed can grow so close to the ground that mowing is not an effective way to prevent the weed from reseeding.

Buttonweed, for the most part, occupies damp or wet territories in the eastern portion of the United States. This weed will develop in gardens, wetlands, lake edges, turf, grass ranches, pastures, fairways, flower beds and alfalfa fields.


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What Does Buttonweed Look Like?

Buttonweed has a sprawling, widely branched growth habitat. The plant’s leaves are purplish-green in color and grow opposite one another. The leaves are connected across the stem by a membrane. Their flowers are star-shaped and white with four petals which rise in the summer between June to August.

Buttonweed Control Options For Landowners

If buttonweed is appearing on your lawn in sparse amounts , hand removal can be effective. Try to remove as much of the root as possible and properly toss away any of the remnants. Watering the soil before hand pulling will allow the plants to pull easier. If you find that the weeds are breaking off at the crown as you pull, slip a weeding tool under the weed, and pry and twist as you pull it up. For comfort, wear gloves and use a sitting pad.

Mowing is not an effective enough method of controlling this weed because it is very low growing. Due to its preference of moist conditions, avoid watering the lawn excessively.

A multiple active ingredient lawn weed killer which contains carfentrazone should work best which is included in Speedzone herbicide. However, if you’re wanting to go with the economical option, we’d suggest MSM Turf as it is much cheaper for those on a budget. If for some reason these products do not provide adequate control, another professional option to try is Celsius herbicide.


The best time to control buttonweed is in the springtime. Make an application of one of the above recommended products over the entire lawn in early April and again in early May. You also should expect to make repeated herbicide applications through the summer if your patch of buttonweed is especially stubborn..


During the summer, the recommended lawn weed killers are more likely to discolor or damage the lawn due to high temperatures. (This is most likely to happen to St. Augustine; centipede, zoysia and Bermuda are less likely to be damaged). To offset the risks of burning your lawn, we recommend to spot treat your lawn during the summer heat and selectively spray just the patches or spots where the buttonweed is growing. Be persistent.


According to university research from LSU, it often takes four applications of herbicide to keep this weed in check and under control. Make repeated applications as needed through the summer following label directions for best control. Spot treating patches of buttonweed is about the best you can do in the late fall


The following year, make sure to start your control and management routine early in the spring rather than waiting until late summer to notice this weed and begin control. Buttonweed should be easier to control when they are smaller rather than when they are fully established near the end of summer. Persistence is the key so make sure to stay on top of things on your lawn.


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Additional Resources

Buttonweed | Archives | Aggie Horticulture



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