Farming and Agriculture Gardens and Outdoors

How to Identify and Kill the Creeping Charlie (Ground Ivy) Weed

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The Creeping Charlie, also known as ground ivy, can easily invade your garden bed or yard. Even though it does have some beneficial uses, this plant is considered one of the most stubborn weeds that you can deal with. It’s capable of thriving in different environments, though it prefers moist and shady areas. If you’re looking to get rid of the Creeping Charlie, you might have some difficulties as the weed is known for being particularly hard to kill.

1. Identifying Creeping Charlie

Given how this pesky weed has similar features to other plants, you need to learn how to identify it correctly when dealing with an infestation. Creeping Charlie is part of the mint family of plants and has funnel-shaped purple flowers. The square stem displays rounded dark green leaves that can sometimes become darker. A helpful tip to identify this weed faster is to look for its pronounced spicy scent.

One of the most common plants that Creeping Charlie can be confused with is the “Creeping Jenny”. That nickname is for Lysimachia nummularia which does look similar to the ground ivy but it’s a different plant. Pay attention to some characteristics of the Creeping Jenny as it has yellow flowers and lacks the scalloped leaf edges of the ground ivy.

Depending on the growing conditions, the Creeping Charlie can reach different heights. Sometimes it only grows up to two inches in height while better conditions can allow it to reach almost 1.6 feet. The plant has been brought to America from Europe originally to act as a groundcover. Make sure you identify Creeping Charlie correctly before purchasing herbicide or employing a particular control method, so you will get the desired results.

2. Understanding How the Weed Spreads

Ground ivy is quite tricky to remove from your yard because of its multiple ways to spread. Aside from seeding and nodes rooting, the Creeping Charlie can also be accidentally spread further through mowing without a bag attachment. Due to rhizomes spreading, this weed only needs a tiny rhizome fragment left to appear again. This is why killing the plant by hand-pulling will often lead to poor results, particularly if the infestation is in an advanced stage. Considering how Creeping Charlie spreads so aggressively, it’s recommended to follow some more reliable methods to permanently eliminate it from your garden.

3. Killing Ground Ivy with Chemicals

While many people wish to avoid using chemicals when treating a weed problem, this is your best bet for a serious Creeping Charlie invasion. A classic home remedy that used to be popular was to create a Borax solution. This method is no longer recommended as it’s simply more trouble than its worth. It’s not easy to create a balanced mixture that works effectively at killing the weed. Make a simple mistake and you can end up destroying your entire yard. Carelessness can cost you with this method as you risk soil contamination and other problems.

A truly reliable way to deal with Creeping Charlie is to use herbicide or a weed-control product designed for this particular invasive plant. You will need to choose an adequate chemical for the severity of your weed infestation. In some rare cases, you might even have to start a new lawn by killing all the plants alongside the ground ivy. We recommend going for a herbicide with dicamba as this chemical is known to be particularly potent against Creeping Charlie. Be careful about herbicide formulations for broadleaf weed killers as they don’t always work for this specific weed.

When it comes to using herbicides, timing is usually more important than the precise formulation. There are lots of great herbicides on the market that work well for Creeping Charlie – one example is Triclopyr 4 that can be purchased on Amazon. Treating with herbicides will be most effective if you conduct it in early fall and when the weather outside is around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Remember to mow the grass before you apply your herbicide. Check the rain forecast to ensure you time the herbicide use when it won’t rain for 48 hours. As long as you follow the manufacturer’s directions carefully, you should be able to reclaim your yard back from the Creeping Charlie.

4. Removing Creeping Charlie Naturally

Pulling the weed by hand could still be a good solution in case the plant hasn’t become a huge problem yet. If you choose to go for this method, it’s worth mentioning that it will require some consistent effort. Watch out for the ground ivy reappearing and make sure you remove it with gloves as some people can be allergic to it. Removing Creeping Charlie in this manner is more efficient immediately after a rainstorm. As long as you’re aware of the sustained effort required for this method, you can certainly control a small infestation this way.

Another natural method to control the spread of ground ivy involves the use of newspaper smothering. This is another great way to get rid of this weed without worrying about chemicals affecting your edible plants. If you have a large collection of old newspapers and wish to recycle them, this could be a good moment to use them. It’s a fairly time-consuming method, but if you wish to avoid using chemicals at all costs, newspaper smothering has great potential. Check out this guide to get you started.

5. Preventing Creeping Charlie From Taking Over

This weed is found in lots of yards but maybe you don’t really have an infestation yet. It’s great if you manage to discover the weed before becoming a more serious problem. The presence of Creeping Charlie can indicate that your lawn is not properly maintained. Given how this invasive plant grows best in shade, wet soils, and without the need for attentive fertilization, it’s clearly a sign that you should take care of some issues in the garden. Your plants simply can’t compete with the ground ivy in these conditions.

For that reason, we recommend applying some reliable pest management practices which require no chemicals. Give that neglected turf the needed help to gain back the terrain lost in the weed’s favor. Reduce the amount of shade as much as possible and don’t let the grass grow too tall. Having a lush lawn will make life much harder for the ground ivy. Avoid overwatering and pay closer attention to soil quality and drainage. By just taking better care of the garden, your invasive weed problem can simply resolve itself.

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