How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie Ground Ivy

Tips for Removing Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie is a type of ground ivy that can totally ruin a beautiful lawn in one summer, if you don't take steps to remove the plant before it's too late.

Creeping charlie is easily identified by its small purplish flowers that grow from small vertical stems in late spring through early summer. If neglected, the plant's root system begins spreading through a lawn, choking the grass and leaving bare spots all over.

I had a really bad creeping charlie problem in my lawn, but I have been able to get rid of the plant, almost completely. Once it establishes itself in grass, and you remove it, there will be nothing left but bare dirt, which you will need to fill in with grass seed. This costly mistake can be avoided by getting rid of creeping charlie before it has a chance to spread.

This article provides a couple steps I took to successfully get rid of this annoying plant and make my lawn look nice again.

Spectracide WeedStop Herbicide

I really don't like spraying chemicals in my lawn, but this stuff killed most of the creeping charlie growing in my grass. I bought the version with crabgrass control and that did also wipe out the minor crab grass that was also starting to ruin my lawn. Do not spray Spectracide WeedStop in your garden, or too close to it, because it will damage your plants, if not kill them. Instead, pull the garden weeds out by hand.

There are dozens of herbicides, but most of them aren't formulated to kill creeping charlie, or they simply aren't strong enough. I tried Bayer herbicide before buying WeedStop and the Bayer herbicide was a total waste of money. It didn't kill anything and actually made the weeds grow faster.

The WeedStop bottle screws onto the end of the garden hose. Shake the bottle really well, turn the water on and evenly spray the entire lawn at close range. The directions on the bottle advises to only spray the lawn once or twice throughout the year, but in reality, you will need to spray this product five or six times to get rid of the creeping charlie. It won't harm your grass if you space out each application by at least 2 weeks.

This product works best when sprayed on actively growing creeping charlie, so wait until the weeds are green, growing and absorbing nutrients before you drench the plant. Also, don't spray the lawn and then cut the grass right after. Wait at least one week before cutting the lawn and make sure it's not going to rain for a couple days too.

After a couple weeks has passed, the purple flowers and leaves on the creeping charlie plant will begin turning brown and falling off. When you cut the grass the next time around, you will begin seeing an improvement. Wait another week and then spray the entire lawn again. Depending on how much creeping charlie is growing in your lawn, you might need to spray the grass a few more times. Make sure you spray the grass one final time in late fall and your lawn will look five thousand times better in the spring.

20 Mule Team Borax Laundry Detergent

The 20 Mule Team Borax is a laundry detergent sold in most major grocery stores. It comes in powder form in a 4 LB box for around $5. It is mixed with water and sprayed evenly over a lawn with a garden sprayer. It can kill the grass if you spray too much of it. If you look it up on Google, you will find articles that provide the exact mixing amounts for lawn application.

I only sprayed 20 Mule Team Borax in my lawn once and it did kill some of the leftover creeping charlie weeds without burning or killing my grass. That is because I mixed it accordingly. I read a couple articles stating that Borax is one of the most effective chemicals for removing creeping charlie. I don't know about that, but it does work. If you decide to spray the lawn with borox, I would first test a very small area before saturating the entire yard with it.

Clean Up the Mess

After multiple applications of herbicide, or borax, the creeping charlie will be completely burned and dried up, but it should still be manually removed with a rake if it's taken over a large area. It is tempting to leave it there and let nature take its course, but if you do, the plant will eventually bounce back, re-seed and begin spreading all over the lawn again. It is a really hardy plant.

The best tool to use is a de-thatching rake. Make sure you rake out the entire plant, including the roots, or it could grow back. The de-thatching rake works good because it digs into the soil and rips the whole plant out. If there's only a little creeping charlie in the grass then it might completely die off and go away after cutting the grass a few times.

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