Doveweed (Murdannia nudiflora)
Doveweed is a summer annual broadleaf weed in the dayflower family. It has a low-growing, very grass-like habit and appearance. It produces stolons (creeping horizontal stems) and can rapidly grow from segments distributed by mowing. The leaves can easily be confused with centipede and St. Augustine grass blades. Doveweed is easily overlooked unless it has choked out large patches of the desirable turfgrass. Doveweed seeds can stay viable in the soil for several years, so achieving control of the weed can take multiple seasons. Fortunately, cultural controls can help to limit doveweed infestations.
Doveweed thrives in moist soils. Limit excessive soil moisture by providing deep and infrequent irrigation. Calibrate your sprinkler system to deliver 1 inch of water a week and install a rain sensor to prevent supplemental irrigation when there is adequate rainfall. Warm-season turfgrasses are pretty drought tolerant and should not be watered until they develop a slight blue-grey cast. For more tips on managing lawn irrigation, see HGIC 1207 Watering Lawns.
Raising the mowing height of the lawn will help to limit doveweed infestations in multiple ways. Doveweed seeds need light to germinate, so maintain your grass at the upper end of the recommended mowing height to limit the number of new plants, shade out existing weeds, and reduce the spread of broken doveweed stolons. To find the recommended mowing height range for your lawn, please see HGIC 1205 Mowing Lawns.
If doveweed is a problem in your lawn, plan on using a preemergent next year in late spring. Post-emergent herbicides can help to control established plants. For herbicide recommendations and more information on doveweed, please see HGI 2332 Doveweed.