Creeping Charlie, or ground ivy, is one of the worst types of weeds. This rapidly growing vine can create thick mats, covering and choking out your grass. If you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of Creeping Charlie, you’re not alone. This resilient weed is notoriously difficult to eradicate, and battling it takes vigilance.
An efficient way to keep your lawn weed-free is by hiring a professional lawn care company that can keep your lawn in tip-top shape through regular lawn care practices. The This Old House Reviews Team recommends TruGreen for all of your lawn care needs. You can get a free quote from TruGreen by calling 1-866-817-2287 or filling out this simple form.
What Is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie, also known as Glechoma hederacea, is a perennial member of the mint family. This European invader was brought over with good intentions in the 1800s as an ornamental plant, but it’s now a ubiquitous weed found all over the country, except for the Rocky Mountain states.
How to Kill Creeping Charlie
There are three primary ways to get rid of the Creeping Charlie attacking your lawn—by hand, by smothering, or by herbicide.
Method #1 - Pull It Out By Hand
The first method is effective only when you’ve found very little Creeping Charlie in your lawn or landscaping. Removing Creeping Charlie manually will take a long time, and unless you’re careful to remove the weeds by the rhizomes—or roots—you’ll be back to square one in no time.
This manual method can be useful for homeowners who don’t want to use chemicals for fear of harming their children or pets, or for patches of Creeping Charlie near edible plants.
Here’s how you can pull out Creeping Charlie by hand:
1. Prune and Trim
To play it safe, put on protective gardening gloves—Creeping Charlie can cause skin irritation, and some people are even allergic to it. Trim the leaves, stems, and any vines that aren’t rooted to the ground with your garden shears. Doing this will expose the area you need to pull the roots out.
Place each and every trimming into a lawn waste bag—if you let any of the Creeping Charlie remain on the ground, it could take root again.
2. Water the Surrounding Ground
You won’t be able to tug Creeping Charlie out, roots and all, if the ground is hard and dry. Soften the soil with enough water so that you won’t meet much resistance when you go to pull it out later. The soil should be moist to the touch but not soggy. Wait about a half hour before the next step.
3. Loosen the Soil
Take a pitchfork and loosen up the soil to make yanking out the Creeping Charlie easier.
4. Pull It Out
Firmly grasp the base of the Creeping Charlie, and tug it up gently to remove all of the roots. If you meet resistance, use your pitchfork again to make the soil a little looser. Place all of the Creeping Charlie into a lawn waste bag, like you did with the trimmings.
5. Inspect the Area
At this stage, it’s key to make sure you didn’t leave even a single root that could potentially re-seed and start the cycle all over again. Take a trowel or cultivator and remove any additional rhizomes you find. This may take several passes.
Method #2 - Smother It to Block Sunlight
Another way to tackle this terrible weed is by smothering it—completely blocking it from the sunlight it needs to survive. As we noted, Creeping Charlie thrives in shady areas, but it still needs sunlight. Because of this, you’ll have to make sure no sunlight creeps into the Creeping Charlie and you keep it that way for an extended period.
Note: Any plants underneath the cover will die, including any ornamental plants you may want to keep.
Here are the steps to smothering Creeping Charlie and blocking it from sunlight:
1. Cover the Creeping Charlie
Create a barrier that completely blocks out sunlight, using a piece of cardboard, a tarp, or some newspaper. Because the roots beneath the ground fan out, you’ll want to make sure the barrier extends about six inches to a foot from the vines and leaves on every side.
This method will do no good if there are any gaps at all, so you’ll need to weigh down the cover you’ve made with objects like bricks or rocks. This will stop the cover from blowing around and letting any sunlight in.
2. Keep the Weed Covered Until It Turns Brown
This process doesn’t happen overnight. Wait for a week, then take a peek to see if there is any green left in the area you’ve covered. If there is, put the cover back on and leave it in place for several days. You’ll know the time is up when the Creeping Charlie is brown and shriveled up.
3. Remove the Creeping Charlie
Pull the dried-up Creeping Charlie out by the roots and dispose of it, paying careful attention not to leave any of it on your lawn.
Method #3 - Kill It With Herbicide
When Creeping Charlie has staged a full-scale attack and manual removal and smothering just won’t cut it, you may want to take the chemical route. But be careful—many herbicides are not selective and can kill your grass alongside any unwanted weeds.
You can eradicate Creeping Charlie using a targeted broadleaf herbicide that contains either dicamba or triclopyr. These chemical ingredients should eliminate the weed while leaving your grass alone.
As we mentioned before, the best time to kill Creeping Charlie with herbicide is the days right before or right after the first frost.
Here’s how you can kill Creeping Charlie with herbicide:
1. Prep the Herbicide
Put on protective goggles and gloves, then follow the directions on the herbicide’s label and mix it up with water in a pump sprayer.
2. Spray the Herbicide
Spray the herbicide onto the Creeping Charlie. Concentrate on the leaves and stems and make sure they’re thoroughly soaked. You’ll want the herbicide to soak down into the roots so that the Creeping Charlie stores it. Be careful not to overspray and hit any surrounding plants.
3. Wait for Chemicals to Absorb
You should not mow for at least two days to give the Creeping Charlie’s roots time to absorb the herbicide’s chemicals. Leave the area alone for all of winter. In spring, you can rake up weed leftovers.
Top Recommendation to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
While these methods are decent solutions to get rid of Creeping Charlie, you want to make sure that this weed is gone for good, which is why we recommend TruGreen to help with weed removal. This lawn care company offers five different lawn care programs, provides a satisfaction guarantee, and is available in 49 states nationwide.
To get a free quote from TruGreen, call 1-866-817-2287 or fill out this simple form.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to get rid of Creeping Charlie?
As a general rule, try to eradicate Creeping Charlie as soon as you notice it. If you take the herbicide track, the best time to treat the weed is either just before or just after the first frost of the year, so long as the forecast doesn’t show rain or snow within 24 hours of the application. This should be in fall, when Creeping Charlie is robust but hasn’t released seeds.
How do I prevent Creeping Charlie?
The best way to prevent Creeping Charlie or any weeds from overtaking your lawn is regular maintenance—deep, infrequent watering, and grass that’s not cut too short where it can’t compete with weeds.
What does Creeping Charlie look like?
Creeping Charlie has square stems and creates a mat of small green, round, and kidney-shaped, scalloped-edged leaves. In springtime, Creeping Charlie produces pale bluish-purple blossoms.
How does Creeping Charlie spread?
Creeping Charlie spreads through its creeping stems that root at the nodes, growing low to the ground in moist, shady places. Left to its own devices, the weed will create a dense, thick, mat-like cover.
Are there other plants in the same family as Creeping Charlie?
Yes, the weed has an attractive relative called the Variegata, a popular cascading plant filler or ground cover sold in garden stores and nurseries.
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