Dichondra (Dichondra spp. J.R. Forst and G. Forst), also known as ponyfoot, is a warm-season, perennial broadleaf weed common throughout Louisiana. It spreads through seed as well as through stolons (aboveground stems) and can form dense, low-growing mats in turfgrass. Dichondra is often observed growing in thin, weak turfgrass.
Dichondra can be distinguished by its bright green leaves, which are kidney-shaped to nearly circular and resemble a pony’s foot. Leaves are alternately arranged on the stem. In the spring it produces small white flowers in clusters near the base of the leaf axil. However, flowers are typically difficult to see. Dichondra can spread through stolons (aboveground stems) and has a creeping, prostrate growth habit, sometimes forming dense mats. For more information on dichondra identification and characterization, visit the USDA Plants Database at https://plants.usda.gov.
The best way to prevent or reduce weed encroachment is to maintain a healthy lawn through proper fertilization and soil pH and regular mowing. Properly maintaining a lawn through these cultural practices promotes dense and vigorous turfgrass, allowing it to better compete with weeds. Below are the recommended mowing heights and nitrogen fertility rates recommended per turfgrass species. In addition to these lawn care practices, manual removal of weeds may also be necessary. Dichondra is a low-growing broadleaf that thrives in areas where the turfgrass is not competitive. Improving turfgrass with proper turf maintenance is essential in managing this weed.
In addition to cultural practices, herbicide applications may be required to achieve effective weed control. Repeated applications of herbicides containing 2,4-D have been most effective on dichondra. Apply these herbicides in the spring, usually March to early May and at temperatures tolerated by the turfgrass. Product labels will have information regarding safe application temperatures for specific turfgrass species.
When applying any type of herbicide, you must follow the manufacturer's labeled directions. For more information regarding pesticides for turfgrass, please reference the Louisiana Suggested Chemical Weed Control Guide at the LSU AgCenter website www.lsuagcenter.com.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture