2 Proven Ways to Kill Creeping Charlie

Weeds such as creeping charlie, dandelions, and knotweed are the most difficult weeds to remove from the lawn or garden. Since creeping charlie is a perennial weed with invasive deep root systems, it might take several years to eliminate.

To get rid of creeping charlie, hand-pull young, small weeds with their roots to prevent them from regrowing. A hoe can be a good tool to handle more weeds in less time. Apply post-emergent broadleaf weedkillers on larger areas of established creeping charlie. Reapply the weedkillers one month after the first application to kill the remaining weeds.

Creeping charlie identification

Creeping charlie (Glechoma hederaceae) is a herbaceous, evergreen, perennial weed that belongs to the mint family. Other common names include ground ivy, creeping jenny, and gill-on-the-ground. 

Image of creeping charlie

Creeping charlie has bright green leaves that are round to heart-shaped, toothed at the edges and appear opposite each other. The stems are vined, and the seeds are small and egg-shaped. The flowers are bluish-purplish, grow in one or two clusters, and lie on one side of the stem. 

The flowers blossom from March through July. Creeping charlie has creeping roots that appear from the nodes of each stem, spreading along the ground. This perennial weed propagates by seed, rhizomes, and creeping stems.  

2 ways to get rid of  creeping charlie 

Since creeping charlie is difficult to remove once established, there are only two ways to eliminate it; hand pulling and applying post-emergent broadleaf herbicides. Even with these, you must be consistent lest the creeping charlie reappears on the lawn or garden.

1. Pull out creeping charlie by hand or dig them out

If you have a small garden or lawn area not heavily infested by creeping charlie, hand pulling and digging out the weeds can work for you.

 To increase the efficacy of this method, hand pull creeping charlie after the rains. If not, soak the soil by watering it so the roots can come out easily. 

Hold the creeping charlie by their creeping stems and pull them out of the soil. Dig out the remaining roots and plant parts from the soil to prevent the creeping charlie from regrowing.

Or snip the leaves and creeping stems using shears and pull the rest of the weed with your hands.  

Alternatively, use a hoe to dig out many weeds at once, ensuring all the plant parts are dug from the soil so they don’t regrow. Carefully check the area to ensure no creeping charlie stems and rhizomes are left behind to prevent them from propagating. 

After digging or pulling, dispose of the removed weeds in a trash can and reseed the bare spots to prevent the weeds from growing in the future. 

2. Apply broadleaf post-emergent herbicide 

For gardens, lawns, or flower beds heavily infested with ground ivy, spray a selective broadleaf weed killer to remove the existing weeds. 

Since ground ivy is usually difficult to control, an effective chemical herbicide should have two or three active ingredients, such as dicamba, 2,4-D, MCCP, and triclopyr. 

For more efficacy, apply broadleaf weed killers with these different ingredients at intervals since ground ivy populations have varying susceptibilities to these chemicals. 

Here are the best practices when using post-emergent broadleaf weedkillers.

  • Read the labeled instructions before applying any weed killer, and apply the indicated chemical quantities.
  • If applying chemical weed killers on ground ivy near trees or shrubs, only spray the leaves of the weeds, as spraying it on the ground can make it be absorbed by the other plants, which can kill them too.
  • The best time to apply broadleaf weed killer is from mid-spring to early summer or mid to late fall when creeping charlie is actively growing, as advised by the University of Illinois university extension.
  • Apply the weed killers when there’s no rain forecasted 48 hours from the time of application to prevent rainwater from washing the chemicals away.
  • The weather should be calm, with no winds, so the fertilizer isn’t blown away.
  • Day temperatures between 60oF and 70oF are ideal for herbicide applications.
  • Reapply the broadleaf weed killer one month after the first application to kill any remaining ground ivy weeds.¬†

How to Prevent Creeping Charlie from Growing Back

Creeping Charlies are very difficult to control as they are perennial weeds. Once you have them in your lawn or garden, eliminating them might take several years. And thus, after successfully removing them from your lawn or garden, or better still, a new lawn, the best way to protect your garden is to prevent them from attacking it or regrowing. 

Here are two methods to prevent creeping charlie from growing back.

Make your lawn thicker to choke out weeds

Weeds such as ground ivy are opportunistic and will grow on lawns or poorly maintained gardens. After removing the creeping charlie, enforce proper care practices to ensure the lawn grows thick and doesn’t allow the weeds to regrow. 

To maintain a thick lawn:

  • Water the lawn or garden often so the plant or grass gets enough moisture to thrive. If your grass or plants require moist soils, water them deeply when the top inch of soil is dry. 
  • Fertilize regularly – Fertilizing supplies extra nutrients for grass and trees. For grasses, nitrogen fertilizers thicken the lawn, ensuring ground ivy doesn’t grow there. Fertilize the grass with 3-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square meters per year to maintain thick grass. For trees, ensure you apply the right fertilizer when the trees are actively growing.
  • Cut grasses often at the right height to ensure they are not susceptible to creeping charlie invasion.

Cut nearby trees and shrubs

Ground ivy thrives under trees, shrubs, or locations with more shade. To prevent them from regrowing in your garden, prune overgrown branches of nearby trees so more light can penetrate and reach the ground. 

For lawns, keep the grass from growing too tall. Cut them often at the correct height. Since they prefer shaded locations, the creeping charlie will find it difficult to survive in direct sunlight and won’t regrow.

Remove creeping charlie from your garden or lawn

Creeping charlie on a garden or lawn is frustrating and can take years to eliminate. You know you got creeping charlie whenever you see young plants with bright green leaves that are round or heart-shaped and toothed at the edges, with bluish-purplish flowers and creeping stems on the ground.

Hand-pull them consistently when they are still young to eliminate them. But spraying a broadleaf post-emergent herbicide works for heavily infested gardens. Once you remove the weeds, maintain a thick lawn or healthy garden and remove shade to prevent creeping charlie from regrowing.

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