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How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie Ground Ivy

Updated on July 26, 2017
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Matt is a professional painter sharing his experience with various painting projects and the paint he uses.

Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy)
Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy)

Creeping Charlie Control

Creeping charlie is a type of ground ivy that blooms clusters of small purple flowers in the spring. While the flowers might look nice, the plant can totally ruin a beautiful lawn if neglected for too long. Within a few months, the root system spreads across a lawn, choking the grass until it can no longer grow.

I had a creeping charlie infestation in my lawn once, but I was able to get rid of the plant, using a few different methods. The key is to control the weed in early spring before it has a chance to spread or drop seeds for new growth.

Creeping Charlie Herbicide

I wasn't thrilled about spraying chemicals in my lawn, but using a broadleaf herbicide killed most of the creeping charlie invading my grass. I used the bottles that you fasten to the garden hose. Not all herbicides kill this plant though. I tried at least four different products, but the two that worked best are Spectracide Weed Stop and Trimec. Both of these products contain higher concentrations of the chemical dicamba, which kills the pesky weed.

One application per year is not enough to kill this plant. Creeping charlie herbicide should be first sprayed in early spring when its flowers bloom. Within a few days after spraying, the leaves and stems turn brown and the plant shrivels. The chemical should be applied a second time in the summer and a third time in the fall. Each time you mow the grass, the shriveled weeds will become smaller until it is gone. Bare spots should be filled in with grass seed.

Borax Laundry Detergent

Borax is a powder laundry detergent that is often recommended for creeping charlie removal. Like broadleaf herbicide, the detergent poisons the weed until it dies. The correct mixture must be applied though, otherwise it can kill the grass. In a garden sprayer, I mixed 10 ounces of borax with a half cup of warm water and sprayed the solution evenly over the weeds.

Within one week or so, the leaves started to brown, but the detergent alone did not remove the weed. However, I only applied two applications. I used the detergent in combination with herbicide and pulling weeds out by hand. The borax stunted the plant pretty well, preventing it from spreading.


Pull Ground Ivy Out By Hand

Nobody enjoys pulling weeds, but for those who don't want to spray chemicals in their lawn, it's an effective way to get rid of the weed. Even if a creeping charlie herbicide is used, the chemicals won't kill every single weed in the yard. Some weeds will remain and should be removed by hand, including dead ones.

A de-thatching rake works well for removing dead, dried up ground ivy. Make sure you rake out the entire plant, including the roots, or it could grow back. Pulling ground ivy out by hand is actually pretty easy. Unlike dandelions, which have a deep root, creeping charlie roots are shallow and can be pulled out without a garden tool.

After the weed has been removed from your lawn, it's important to determine what caused the problem in the first place to prevent it from returning. Ground ivy thrives in patchy, thin grass. Aerating your lawn, using fertilizer and cutting the grass high, will make the grass grow thicker, preventing problematic weeds from growing.

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