Creeping Charlie: How to Get Rid of Ground Ivy
Although it has many beneficial uses, creeping charlie or ground ivy is most commonly viewed as a ground cover weed. Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself wondering how to kill or control it. Or perhaps your question is simply how to control creeping charlie without using chemicals? If creeping charlie flowers have taken over your yard …
Although it has many beneficial uses, creeping charlie or ground ivy is most commonly viewed as a ground cover weed. Perhaps you’ve recently found yourself wondering how to kill or control it. Or perhaps your question is simply how to control creeping charlie without using chemicals?
If creeping charlie flowers have taken over your yard or garden, you need to know what to do next. Since there are many different species that can be mistaken for creeping charlie, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you know what you’re dealing with before proceeding any further.
I’ve asked similar questions myself when faced with this pest before. If you’re dealing with a creeping charlie infestation, the tips that follow will help you eradicate this pesky purple-flowered weed from your yard.
What is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a broadleaf weed also known as ground ivy, gill over the ground, or cat’s foot, among other common names. It is a member of the mint family with creeping stems and kidney-shaped leaves that might occasionally be seen as a garden perennial, particularly in its variegated form. After all, ground ivy is a fairly hardy plant, and it grows well in areas where ordinary lawn grasses wouldn’t normally work. As its names suggest, it has a trailing growth habit.
Creeping charlie has been used as a ground cover plant. It has also been used medicinally in the past, which could be one of the main reasons that it was exported from its home with European settlers to other countries. Creeping charlie is now seen in a lot of places throughout the world.
However, most people now consider purple flowered creeping charlie to be a nuisance that’s determined to gobble up their lawn. Creeping charlie can be very hard to destroy since it spreads by creeping stems as well as by seed. Once you pull it up, any pieces that are left behind will make new plants. As a result, it has been labeled an invasive weed in most of the United States.
Identifying Creeping Charlie
Let’s discuss this broadleaf weed. Creeping charlie has fuzzy, fan-shaped or kidney-shaped leaves with scalloped edges. Clusters of small, orchid-like blue or purple creeping charlie flowers grow on its square stems. However, the plant’s height can vary a great deal based on its growing conditions. Ground ivy can get up to 1.6 feet tall in ideal circumstances, but it can just as easily be under 2 inches in height. In fact, it’s usually viewed as a groundcover, which was one of its original purposes in being brought to America.
Creeping charlie has a decided preference for damp, wooded environments but doesn’t shy away from full sunlight either. It’s often seen on ailing lawns as yet another problem that gardeners need to fix before it gets out of hand. This plant likes nutrient-rich, moist soils in boron deficient areas. Creeping charlie also has a pronounced aroma.
Since one of its common appellations is ‘creeping jenny,’ Glechoma hederacea may be mistaken for the plant that more commonly goes by that name (Lysimachia nummularia). The difference between this plant and creeping jenny is pretty obvious since Lysimachia nummularia typically has round leaves and yellow flowers and lacks leaves that have scalloped edges.
Creeping charlie can also be mistaken for common mallow (Malva neglecta). However, common mallow doesn’t spread by runners, and it hasn’t got the characteristically strong spicy scent that creeping charlie does.
There are other wild plants and edible plants that look like ground ivy. One of these is dichondra, a Texas native with smooth leaves. It too can be used as a lawn substitute and have a weedy nature. Creeping charlie may likewise be mistaken for henbit (Lamium amplexicaule), which is an annual that grows during the winter. The fresh or dried leaves of henbit can be used for food or medicine.
How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
Taking immediate action is the best way to keep the purple-flowered creeping charlie from getting out of hand. This video provides a brief look at how to get rid of creeping charlie. However, if you’re secretly looking up stuff online rather than actually working and want to keep it on the quiet side, feel free to read on for some extra tips on getting rid of ground ivy.
What You’ll Need
- 20 Mule Team Borax
- Ortho Weed B Gon Herbicide or Weed-Free Zone
- Fine Mist Spray Bottle
- Pump Sprayer
The ancient Saxons once used the creeping stems and leaves with scalloped edges of creeping charlie as part of their beer brewing process. It was generally used to clarify the beverage and give it some flavor. This plant has also been used as a substitute for rennet in the cheese-making process. Various species of wild bees still feed upon it, making it useful in that regard.
In Traditional Medicine
The plant can be used to concoct a vitamin-rich tea that may be helpful for a variety of ailments. Creeping charlie was once used to treat minor problems such as eye inflammations, common colds, headaches, and ringing ears. Another historical function of this plant was to clean the internal parts of the body. It was used in this manner to cure kidney problems, urinary tract infections, and indigestion. Lung and respiratory problems, such as bronchitis, have also been treated with creeping charlie in the past. However, you should never use any plant for medicinal purposes without first consulting an accredited physician or herbalist.
As an Edible Green
This easy-to-grow plant was traditionally eaten cooked and in salads, which is no doubt because it has a pleasantly spicy flavor. It’s additionally said to be full of antioxidants and vitamin C.
Despite the fact that creeping charlie has been consumed for centuries, there still remains some scientific concern over its edibility. After all, the plant does contain the same harmful chemicals that are found in pennyroyal, which can damage the liver and induce abortions. However, these compounds are present in creeping charlie in much smaller amounts. No matter what its debatable effects are on human beings, the plant is clearly poisonous to cows and horses. It can even make house pets sick if they eat enough of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is best to kill creeping charlie?
A: Typically, a post-emergence broadleaf herbicide is most effective. Borax can be used, but not heavily as the borax will not dissipate in the soil and can cause issues for turfgrass over time.
Q: Is creeping charlie good for anything?
A: There have been a number of traditional medicinal uses for it, and it’s also been used as an edible plant (for humans – in livestock, it’s potentially toxic).
Q: Is creeping charlie a problem?
A: In lawns, it is commonly considered a nuisance. But in grazing pastureland, it’s a major risk to livestock.
Q: What kills creeping charlie but not grass?
A: Most broadleaf herbicides are developed in a way to reduce the risk to grasses while taking out broadleaf weeds, and those are extremely effective. Borax can also be used in limited doses, but too heavy of an application of borax may cause yellowing in turf grasses.
How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
The best way to get rid of Creeping Charlie without killing your grass and controlling it is to kill it at the roots with your locally available non-selective vegetation control. Home remedies such as vinegar won’t do much to the roots, but will control top growth. The problem with creeping charlie weeds (and wild violet) is that it is very difficult to control and will grow back right through a seeding job or sod, until it is killed off completely.
Extra weed control can help with some stubborn weeds BUT REMEMBER, not all weeds are controlled with Fiesta (creeping Charlie and violet, for example, are NOT) they will require several applications every year to “manage” it- the idea is it keep it in a weakened state so that turfgrass has a fighting chance against it, in order to try and crowd them out.
How We Keep Creeping Charlie Under Control Organically In Our Garden
What Does Creeping Charlie Look Like?
Creeping Charlie can be identified by its round to reniform (kidney or fan-shaped), crenate (with round toothed edges) opposed leaves 2–3 cm (0.79–1.18 in) diameter, on 3–6 cm (1.2–2.4 in)long petioles attached to square stems which root at the nodes. Like crabgrass, creeping charlie’s root has a ball that can be difficult to get rid of in lawns. It is a variable species, its size being influenced by environmental conditions, from 5–50 cm (2.0–19.7 in) tall.
Ground Ivy Control. How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
How to Kill Creeping Charlie Without Killing Grass
One of the most important factors is proper mowing and regular watering of your lawn. It’s important to remember that Creeping Charlie weeds:
Annual aeration of your lawn is recommended to reduce compaction and encourage desired turf growth. This will help your grass fight against the Creeping Charlie and give you a better chance of getting rid of this pesky weed.
Is Fiesta Weed Control Effective at Killing Creeping Charlie?
Fiesta is somewhat effective at managing creeping weeds like creeping charlie in Ontario lawns, however, it takes multiple applications over several visits (and performed annually), to see measurable results in dealing with creeping charlie in your lawn the application of the weed control will not be effective without proper mowing and watering practices. It is best to apply Fiesta as a fine mist to better cover Creeping Charlie’s overlapping leaves. You will need a min. 3-4 Fiesta treatments to see results. (but not eradication)
An effective application will result in discoloration and “tattering” of the leaf edges. Re-growth is expected. This weed spreads using “runners” at the soil’s surface (which cannot be sprayed). Runners retain energy and stimulate new growth in thin areas throughout the lawn. For this reason, grass seeding of thin/bare areas is essential in preventing the spread of Creeping Charlie. A lime soil conditioner application may help reduce creeping Charlie where there is a pH problem present.
Is Ground Ivy Creeping Charlie?
Yes, “Creeping Charlie” is also known as “ground ivy.” It’s also commonly known as gill-over-the-ground, alehoof, tunhoof, catsfoot, field balm, and run-away-robin. It is also sometimes known as creeping jenny.
Contact LawnSavers For Help Getting Rid Of Creeping Charlie in Your Lawn
Call Lawnsavers when you are looking for the best lawn service company near you to help you get rid of Creeping Charlie in your Ontario lawn. We’ll provide you a free estimate for our lawn care services to help you take care of any weeds that could be plaguing your yard. We also have many add-on lawn service features, such as custom over-seeding, which will introduce your lawn to a much hardier variety of seeds. These are bred to withstand higher temperatures, need less water, and resist insects like chinch bug!
Contact us today if you have any lawn maintenance questions or to set up an initial assessment. 1-888-503-5296
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How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, was brought to North America by Europeans as a medicinal herb and ornamental plant. Since then, it’s spread across the country in disturbed sites, natural areas, and most commonly, in lawns. It can reproduce from any small fragment of root, making it a tough plant to get rid of. But there are ways to remove it from your lawn!
How to Identify Creeping Charlie
Before we start, let’s identify what we’re dealing with. Creeping Charlie is a groundcover from the mint family that has opposite, round leaves with scalloped edges. The stems are square, and it has small purple flowers in the spring. When crushed, it smells like tangy mint.
How to Slow the Spread of Creeping Charlie
Before we even begin to remove Creeping Charlie, let’s eliminate the conditions that make it thrive. Since Creeping Charlie loves moist areas, you can knock it back by reducing over-watering and even keeping your lawn a little dry. Since it also thrives in the shade, you can prune back surrounding trees or shrubs to give your yard more sunlight. Finally, you can give your grass the upper hand by overseeding with fresh grass seed and letting it grow 2-3 inches between mowings. These small changes will not eradicate Creeping Charlie, but will slow its growth and rate of spreading.
How to Remove Creeping Charlie by Hand
Even though it spreads easily by the root, it’s still possible to remove Creeping Charlie by hand, although it does take repeated attempts. Here are steps to make the process as easy as possible:
- Soak the area with a hose 30 to 60 minutes before you begin weeding.
- Loosen the soil with a pitchfork.
- Remove Creeping Charlie, including the entire root, with a pitchfork or hand weeder.
- Watch for any plants that return and keep removing them until they’re gone from your lawn.
How to Smother Creeping Charlie
Smothering Creeping Charlie is a way to weaken or kill the plant prior to removing it. Simply cover it with newspaper or a tarp to block off airflow and sunlight. This makes it easier to uproot, and reduces the chance that it will return. Of course, the only problem is that you’ll kill sections of your grass as well. But it’s easy to reseed fresh grass afterward, and you’ll enjoy a thriving lawn again in no time.
Using Herbicides on Creeping Charlie
Creeping Charlie can also be eliminated with post-emergence, broadleaf herbicides. These target broadleaf plants, while leaving your grass intact. However, they do come with risks, such as harming or killing untargeted insects, birds, or wildlife that use your yard. And as with any chemical treatment, be sure to follow the instructions, and refrain from spraying near vegetable gardens, or play areas for children and pets.
Alternative: A Biodiverse Yard
As many people are now welcoming biodiversity back into their landscapes, they’re beginning to appreciate the beauty of a diverse lawn. They’re wondering if a patch of clover here or Creeping Charlie over there is really a problem. In fact, these plants do provide flowers for pollinators, and a habitat for insects, which in turn attract birds. Plus, the blossoms bring color and fragrance to us as well.
That doesn’t mean you should let Creeping Charlie take over the whole yard. Weeding is still necessary to keep invasive plants in check. But people are expanding their concepts of a healthy yard and realizing that it doesn’t have to be pure grass. After all, Creeping Charlie was brought here because of its value as a herb and medicinal plant. Perhaps it’s really a gift that has shown up right at our doorsteps.
The choice is up to you. But no matter your approach, there are many Smart ways to manage Creeping Charlie and other weeds, and to keep your yard the way you want it. For more expert advice on landscaping and all the supplies you need, visit our garden centers in Chicagoland!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.
How to Kill Creeping Charlie
Most homeowners hate how weeds look in their lawn. Unfortunately, getting rid of these common pests isn’t always as easy as pulling them out of the ground—especially when you’re dealing with the notoriously tough creeping Charlie. Creeping Charlie is a tough and stubborn weed that can take root in your lawn and cause your grass to look dry and dead.
Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to get rid of this stubborn weed for good. Our guide will help you tackle current creeping Charlie growth and create a lawn that’s inhospitable for future weeds.
What is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie ( Glechoma hederacea ) is a type of evergreen herb that can take root in almost every type of soil and can thrive in almost any climate. Creeping Charlie is a close relative of mint and is sometimes referred to as “ground ivy.” Creeping Charlie is a perennial plant, which means that it will grow back seasonally for at least two years.
You can identify creeping Charlie by looking for its distinct shape. Creeping Charlie grows district club-shaped leaves, square stalks, and pretty purple flowers. At first glance, creeping Charlie might not look like much of a threat to your lawn. But don’t be fooled—this weed is notorious for being annoyingly difficult to get rid of. Creeping Charlie’s roots are made up of hardy and tough fibers called “rhizomes” which can withstand harsh conditions and soil that lacks nutrients. Despite being a broadleaf weed, creeping Charlie is unaffected by standard broadleaf herbicides.
Think that you can just pull creeping Charlie out of your lawn as it springs up? Be sure that you pull out all of each plant’s roots—if even a single rhizome is left in your soil, the plant will likely pop up again next year, as these invasive roots can lay dormant for months. This is why it’s important to have a solid plan when it comes to tackling creeping Charlie in your lawn.
Natural Methods to Kill Creeping Charlie
Homeowners can use both natural and chemical methods to get rid of creeping Charlie. The best method for you will vary depending on where you live, your local climate, the condition of your lawn, and the number of plants growing on your property. Let’s take a look at a few natural methods you can use to tackle small infestations first.
If you only have a few creeping Charlie weeds in your lawn, you may be able to tackle it quickly by removing them by hand. Get to work as soon as you notice this hardy weed in your lawn—waiting can allow the plant to spread, which can mean more work on your part.
Before pulling out the creeping Charlie, we recommend putting on a pair of gloves, as the mint portions of the weed can cause allergic reactions. Wet the ground near the weed before you pull—this will soften the roots and make the rhizomes easier to remove. Be sure to remove all parts of the weed both aboveground and beneath the soil. While this method isn’t the most effective for moderate or large infestations of creeping Charlie, it can help you stop a small patch before it’s able to spread to other sections of your lawn.
Smother with shade
Though creeping Charlie is a tenacious plant that can thrive in both shade and sun, it’s possible to excise a larger patch of this weed from your lawn by completely blocking out the sun and smothering it. Remember that creeping Charlie is persistent, so you’ll need to be sure that you’ve thoroughly smothered the weed. This method is most effective when you have a single moderate patch of creeping Charlie in one localized area. Be aware that any other plants suffocated alongside the creeping Charlie will also likely die.
First, measure the area where the creeping Charlie is growing in your lawn. Then, completely cover the area with a newspaper, tarp, or cardboard to completely block out the sunlight. Extend the coverage at least 12 inches beyond the roots of the plant to be sure that you’re completely killing all of the weed’s extended rhizomes. Weight the edges of the cover with bricks to prevent it from blowing away in the wind or being removed by an animal overnight.
Depending on the conditions of your soil, it may take a week or more for all of the creeping Charlie to die off. Take a peek every few days and look for green. When there is no more green left and your creeping Charlie looks shriveled and brown, you can remove the cover and pluck out the remaining strands of creeping Charlie. Be sure to dispose of it thoroughly—leaving behind rhizomes or roots can cause the weed to return.
Killing Creeping Charlie with Chemicals
If you have a serious issue with creeping Charlie in your lawn, your best bet is usually to tackle it with herbicides. Remember that creeping Charlie is largely unaffected by standard broadleaf herbicides—so when you search for a remedy, looking for a solution that contains tricolpyr or dicamba. You can also ask your local lawn care service provider to visit your property and spray for creeping Charlie.
Before spraying, put on a pair of long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and a pair of gardening gloves to protect your skin from the harsh chemicals in the herbicide. Mix the herbicide together in a garden sprayer according to instructions from the manufacturer.
You can spray for creeping Charlie at any point of the year when the weed isn’t in its winter dormant stage. However, the most effective time to spray is right before the first frost. Spray the herbicide on creeping Charlie, concentrating on the leaves and ensuring that all leaves are covered. Do not mow for at least two days after you apply your herbicide, as this allows the chemicals to soak into the roots of the plant. This ensures that the creeping Charlie cannot regerminate in the spring.
Preventing Creeping Charlie With Herbicides
If your lawn sees problems with creeping Charlie year after year, applying a pre-emergent herbicide can help you tackle infestations before they can take root in your lawn. A pre-emergent herbicide is a special type of chemical that lays dormant in your soil and kills off weeds before they can germinate. Using a pre-emergent herbicide saves you time and money by tackling the problem before creeping Charlie is able to damage your grass.
You can find pre-emergent herbicide at your local gardening center, hardware store, or online source for lawn care tools. Look for a product designed to eliminate creeping Charlie or ground ivy. Mix the solution with water according to the directions from the manufacturer and add transfer the solution to a hand spray bottle. If using a granular solution, transfer the mixture directly to your granular spreader. Apply evenly to your lawn and be sure that you cover every area that receives direct sunlight. Pay special attention to patchy areas of your lawn.
Preventing Creeping Charlie by Maintaining a Healthy Lawn
Creeping Charlie tends to take root in lawns that are ill-maintained or that are suffering from a lawn disease or fungus. Maintaining a healthy lawn is a simple and affordable way to prevent creeping Charlie from taking over your property—and it helps you increase your curb appeal as well. Using these tips and tricks throughout the year can empower you to fight off creeping Charlie and other lawn weeds on your own.
- Mow your lawn regularly: Long grass doesn’t only look bad—it can also make it more difficult for your grass to take the nutrients it needs from your soil. When your grass is too long, grassroots may struggle to get water and oxygen from the atmosphere, causing your grass to weaken and leaving room for weeds to move in on your lawn.
If creeping Charlie tends to be a regular problem in your lawn, you may want to set your mower to a higher setting. Taller grass tends to shade your soil, which makes it more difficult for weeds to put roots down in your lawn. However, remember that leaving your grass too long will weaken your grass’s roots—so have a plan before you mow and stick to it.
- Overseed patches in your grass: Do you have a bare spot in your lawn? If you do, don’t be surprised if creeping Charlie decides to move in. Weeds like creeping Charlie are resilient and can grow even in areas where grass is having trouble thriving.
Thankfully, there’s a simple solution for bare patches in your lawn—overseeding. Overseeding is the process of planting new grass patches in areas where grass has died off in your lawn and regularly touching up these areas until your lawn is even. Experts recommend that you overseed once a year to keep your lawn thick, even if you don’t currently have bare patches in your lawn. Maintaining a consistent grass length through professional overseeding treatments will make it more difficult for creeping Charlie to invade your soil.
- Irrigate and fertilize your lawn: Your best weapon against weeds is a healthy lawn. When your grass’s roots are healthy, your grass can grow thicker in your yard. This provides fewer opportunities for weeds to leach nutrients from your soil. Fertilizing your lawn annually feeds your soil and provides your grass seeds with the strength it needs to crowd out weeds.
In addition to fertilizing your lawn, you’ll also want to make sure that your lawn is properly draining after you water it. Creeping Charlie has an easier time growing in cool, damp soil, which means that leaving your lawn wet can increase your chances of dealing with this common weed. If you water your lawn, make sure there are no areas on your property where the water tends to pool.
Looking for an easy way to maintain a healthy lawn year-round? Professional lawn care service providers like TruGreen offer comprehensive packages that provide you with professional lawn care customized to the needs of your soil every season.
Clearing Creeping Charlie From Your Lawn
Right next to dandelions, creeping Charlie can be one of the most frustrating lawn care issues to get rid of and expel from your property for good. If you’re currently dealing with creeping Charlie in your lawn, know that you don’t need to tackle this pesky weed on your own.
TruGreen is a professional lawn care service provider trained to get rid of some of the toughest weeds. From creeping Charlie to moss, TruGreen only employs expert technicians who understand how to assess your soil, create a plan of action to get rid of weeds on your property, and leave you with the green, lush grass that you’ve been dreaming of. All you’ll need to worry about is how you want to use your lawn this season.
The team at TruGreen is standing by to assist you with all of your lawn care needs. Give us a call today at 877-349-9084 to learn more and get started with a free quote from TruGreen.