Vetch – a Common Weed in Springtime Landscapes

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Several species of vetch (Vicia spp.) are common in landscape plantings, and are most noticeable in the spring when they begin vining and climbing over ornamental plants. Vetch is a legume and can fix nitrogen. Thus they are often seeded as cover crops. But, in landscape plantings they can be quite difficult to control. Mulches do not prevent emergence, and most preemergence herbicides labeled for use in landscape plantings are not very effective. Vetch seedlings can be difficult to remove by hand because they have a stout tap root and often break off when you try to pull them. These broken plants rapidly re-grow.

So, what do you do?

First, these are winter annual weeds. They are just starting to flower so control them now before they produce more seeds.

Second, when hand weeding – get to the root of the problem. Use a digging tool to get the root out.

Third – if you decide to use a postemergence herbicide, treat when the plants are small, and before they are vining over your shrubs. Vetch can be difficult to control with herbicides, so multiple applications are often necessary. Effective postemergence herbicides include glyphosate, glufosinate and clopyralid. When using herbicides, remember to always follow label directions.

vetch branch with pinnately compound leaves, tendrils on the tips, andflowers in the leaf axils

vetch, a winter annual weed, flowers and fruits in the spring