A: It was easy to identify this weed once you brought me in a sample. Dichondra or Ponyfoot, Dichondra carolinensis, is a perennial plant that reproduces by seed and stolon. In some areas of the country dichondra is used as a popular ground cover in place of grass. Once established it grows just as well in full sun as shade. It is not salt or cold tolerant and does not respond well to foot traffic or compacted soil. Dichondra is often found living underneath the canopy of trees as it is protected from severe cold by the tree branches.
This plant requires quite a bit of water and nitrogen to maintain good health. I suspect you may be applying too much of both to your lawn, which is a common practice in Northeast Florida. St. Augustinegrass grown in our area will often become stressed and weak after a few years of over fertilization and over watering. This poor management practice often results in weeds growing heartily in the lawn’s place. Remember to use 15-0-15 fertilizers on St. Augustingrass with at least 25% of the nitrogen in a slow release form during the months of March, May and September. Use iron sulfate during the summer with as little nitrogen as possible.
It is best to water St. Augustinegrass on an “as needed” basis. Water when the grass blade starts to slightly fold onto itself, which means you should set your irrigation system on manual. Ideally, you should only water between the hours of 6am – 10am. Keep your St. Augustinegrass at 3.5 – 4 inches high and never remove more than 1/3 of the blade at any mowing. Never scalp or cut the lawn extremely short.
It is not advisable to add lime to the yard unless a soil analysis advises you to do so. So how do you get rid of dichondra – maintain a healthy lawn by using best management practices of proper fertilization, irrigation and mowing.