Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) also known as ground ivy, creeping jenny and gill-over-the-ground is a very aggressive plant especially in shady areas or on soils that have become compacted. It is very difficult to control because of its growth habit. Long above ground stems (stolons) spread out and where they touch the ground, new roots and a new plant develops.

As always, keeping the desired turfgrass healthy and vigorous is the number one approach to controlling this weed. This means mowing tall (2.5 inches or more), fertilizing properly and watering during periods of hot, dry weather. Since Creeping Charlie can thrive in hard soils, periodic core aeration may be key to keeping it under control.

Hand removal is a short term control since it leaves a small part of the plant in the ground and a new plant will develop from that piece.

In some university research, borax (sodium tetraborate, a white, crystalline mineral salt) has been found to be effective herbicide against Creeping Charlie. However, this does not always work depending on your soil type and, if not done properly, may lead to a toxic level of boron that will affect other plants too. Here's some info from the University of Minnesota.

You can use chemical herbicides but, unless you change the conditions so that the grass will thrive, the Creeping Charlie will be back. Herbicides labeled for "difficult to control" lawn weeds may be effective, however, those that rely solely on 2,4-D will not.

Timing of applications is also very important. The first or second week of October is the best time since that is when this perennial plant is sending carbohydrates down to the root system in preparation for winter. If the chemical is on the leaf, it too goes down and kills the root system. Spring when the plant is in bloom is the second best time since the translocation is also happening at that time. The heat of summer is a poor time to try chemical control.

Also, try to picture what the turf would look like if the Creeping Charlie were gone. If the area is primarily Creeping Charlie and there would only be a few blades of grass left, you may need to kill the infested area with a non-selective, post emergent herbicide and reseed. In this case, if you just kill the weed, the sparse grass will not fill in before the weeds return.

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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