Dress Your Area with Violets

In our yard we are letting violets cover the ground. They have green heart-shaped leaves, and are an early flowering thing. I think this spring was the best year we’ve had with the violets so far. For a few weeks I was fascinated every time I walked by them. I can put my hand in them and feel like it is buried. Little bugs have been hanging out in the low shade they make, under the leaves. I don’t know what the bugs are called, but they are interesting to watch.



Violets, native to Minnesota, make gorgeous ground cover.

We have been happily phasing out the grass. Kentucky bluegrass is not that good at supporting a healthy world. It is not native (unlike common violets, which are native to Minnesota), so bugs and other bio-life are not keen on making it a home. 

Compared to other prairie plants, the root system of Kentucky bluegrass is very, very, shallow. Because of this, the Kentucky bluegrass is not as good at storing carbon, preventing erosion, or absorbing rain water. And speaking of water, many people use a lot of it on lawn grass. Also, I think lawn grass can get confused with sidewalks because sometimes I see sprinklers used to water the cement.

Sadly, a lot of fossil fuel is used to cut grass. It’s sad because in order to get the fossil fuel, large machines fracture the earth, and they use even more water when they do that. They also drill the floors of the oceans and turn all of the coral white. Coral goes white when it’s dead––I learned so when I visited an aquarium one time.

It is predicted that in the year 2050, only thirty years from now, all the world’s coral will be gone. 


Strawberries are not violets, but like violets they can go in your yard. They make flowers and food.

I think the flowers of the violets are beautiful, and so do a lot of grateful local pollinators. I can see bees bouncing on them. 

Ants love to eat the violet seeds. So do mice and doves. Caterpillars and rabbits will eat their leaves. It spreads like a wonderful weed and makes a joyful ground-cover. From above I imagine it looks like the flag of a new society. It seems to prefer the shade, like me!

In a pretend scenario where you were asking for my advice, I would say, “My friend, give me a high-five and let the ground where you live cover itself with violets.”


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4 thoughts on “Dress Your Area with Violets

  1. Fred KreiderFred Kreider

    A lovely post, Kyle.

    It was not until earlier this year I learned that Violets are a host plant for beneficial insects and butterflies, and looking at our yard, I wish we had more.
    I’m currently in the process of changing our planted retaining wall from Hostas to native perennials, and just today while weeding I was sure to leave all the violets because as you mentioned, their heart-shaped leaves are unmistakable!

    Thank you again.

  2. Dave Carlson

    Yes, I have been letting the wild violets “encroach” into the yard a little more every year and this year they all grew very well and flowered nicely. They grow especially well on the shady small hill I have in the backyard. Also nice is that their thick cover generally doesn’t allow weeds to grow among them, just an occasional early wild flox may pop through, so they are very low maintenance.

  3. Ian Young

    Other points in favor of violets: they do well in everything from full sun to full shade, and they are free if you just wait for them to come to you!

    Violets still aren’t welcome in my vegetable garden, but this year instead of killing them I’ve been digging them up and transplanting them to the fenceline in area of my yard dedicated to native plants. Given a bit of time, they should fill in around the taller native plants and suppress non-native weeds, a win for me as I will do less weeding and mulching, and a win for pollinators who need those early spring food sources.

  4. Pat Thompson

    Yes, I love the native white violets! Their little purple stripes at the throat are landing strips for pollinators. When people ask what will grow in shade under maples or pine trees, I always say… white violets.

    They are also edible. The young leaves and flower buds can be used raw or cooked. They have a mild flavor when boiled as greens, they’re best mixed with stronger tasting leaves. They can be used to thicken soups. Flowers can also be eaten raw.

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