Get Rid Of Creeping Charlie: The Ultimate Guide
Creeping Charlie is an invasive plant that, if left to grow, will overrun your flower bed or even your entire lawn. How can you stop it and keep your landscaping beautiful?
There are a few proven methods that will rid your lawn of Creeping Charlie. You can pull it out, smother it, or use pesticides to remove it. You can also use natural methods or herbicides to treat it if other methods fail.
Published: December 7, 2022.
Below we will take a closer look at some of the ways to remove Creeping Charlie from your home.
What Is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie, or ground ivy, is a weed that can be resilient and difficult to control in your yard or flower bed. It is a member of the mint family that fills any space it can find. Creeping Charlie has small scalloped green leaves and violet-blue flowers.
It is related to the Variegata plant, which is often used as ground cover or filler for planters.
Creeping Charlie is named because it takes over any area it grows in. It moves across the ground as a vine and smothers anything else around it. It will thrive in a moist shady area where grass and other plants have trouble growing.
The earlier you can address Creeping Charlie invading your yard or garden, the easier it will be to control and remove.
When dealing with an invasive plant, you should start with a method that is least likely to upset the balance of the soil, plants, or environment it is in. You can progress to tougher treatments if they are needed in the future.
When you begin to work on ridding your landscape of Creeping Charlie, you should protect yourself by wearing long pants, long sleeves, and gloves.
Weeds can cause itching and a rash when they are handled. You should not pull any Creeping Charlie plants on windy days. It could cause the seeds of the plant or any chemicals used to drift to other parts of your yard.
Removing by Hand
Removing Creeping Charlie by hand should only be attempted on limited growths containing a few plants. When pulling large areas, you can create fertile ground for the seeds or rhizomes to grow in after the Chasing Charlie plant is removed.
To remove a Creeping Charlie plant by hand, you can first prune them by cutting any loose vines that are not rooted to the ground. This will help you gain better access to the roots you will need to dig and pull out.
After you have cut them back, you will need to soften the soil around the roots with a shovel or cultivator. This will help you remove the entire root structure.
If the ground is too hard, you can use water to help soften it before attempting to pull the weeds out. You will need to pull firmly at the base of the plant to remove the roots from the soil.
After you have removed the roots, immediately place them into a bag. Do not set it back on the ground. If you lay it back on the ground, you are allowing the seeds to fall off and begin to grow.
You should also check the soil and remove any root pieces that have broken off. If they are left, they can grow into a new plant when spring arrives.
Smothering Creeping Charlie
If you have a larger patch of Creeping Charlie, you can attempt to kill it by smothering it. Weeds thrive in the shade, so you will need to block the sunlight for them to be killed completely. It can also harm other plants, flowers, or grass in the areas that are covered. You will need to reseed or replant the area after the Creeping Charlie has been removed.
To smother Creeping Charlie, you will need to cover the plan with a tarp, black garbage bag, newspaper, or even cardboard. The roots underground can extend past the plant and need to be covered also.
For the best results, cover at least six to twelve inches past the leaves and flowers. Use weights or stakes to keep your coverings in place without shifting or moving due to the weather.
You will need to keep the weeds covered for at least a week for this method to be effective. Depending on your soil condition, it can take even longer. If you see any green leaves or stems, replace the covering and wait a few more days before removing it completely. When you only see brown and shriveled plants, you will know that the Creeping Charlie is dead.
After it is dead, remove the Creeping Charlie in the same hand-pulling method discussed earlier. It should be easier to remove after it has died. Failure to remove the plant can lead to it growing back during the next season if any roots or seeds survive.
There are natural methods available to remove Creeping Charlie. If you do experience weed regrowing after pulling or smothering, you can try some natural organic methods to remove it permanently. We will cover a few common methods below.
Vinegar does kill the stems and leaves of the Creeping Charlie plant, but it is not as effective on the roots. You will need to reapply it multiple times for it to be effective against Creeping Charlie. Mix two cups of vinegar with one cup of water to make a sprayable solution.
Thoroughly spray the stems and leaves of the plant on a sunny day for the best results.
Vinegar can cause problems with other plants and insects also. It can harm bees and kill other surrounding plants. Be cautious when you are using vinegar if the Creeping Charlie is next to or near anything you do not want to harm.
Horticultural Vinegar is stronger and more effective than regular vinegar. It is also more corrosive and can harm your skin or eyes. If you do use horticultural vinegar, it can be applied in the same manner as regular vinegar as long as you take extra precautions.
Orange oils can be combined with vinegar to kill weeds like Creeping Charlie. Similar to plain vinegar, they are still only effective on the stems and leaves of the weeds. It can be reapplied as many times as needed without harming the insects and soil nearby. Long sleeves, gloves, and goggles should be used when preparing and applying orange oil.
One part of orange oil should be mixed with one gallon of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap to make a sprayable solution. Apply it directly on the leaves and stems until they are completely covered. Reapply as needed until the weeds turn brown. Remove and discard the plants after they have died.
Boron is a laundry soap made from sodium tetraborate and sold as Borax. It has been shown in some studies to be effective against Creeping Charlie and other weeds. Boron does not disperse as well as vinegar and can also damage nearby plants.
Boron should be mixed with water to form a sprayable solution. It should be only applied once a year for no more than two years in a row. Boron may not be approved for weed control in your area. You should check your local laws and regulations in your area before applying boron for weed control.
If pulling, smothering, and natural methods have failed to rid your yard of Creeping Charlie, you may need to resort to harsh chemicals such as herbicides. You will need to be careful which herbicides you will choose to treat your Creeping Charlie.
Most herbicides will kill anything they touch. Herbicides containing only triclopyr will just kill Creeping Charlie and not harm any of the grass around it.
Triclopyr does have a moderate toxicity rating for people and wildlife. Protection will be needed when using it on your Creeping Charlie growth.
Triclopyr should not be used around children or pets. It can cause illness if it is contacted without protection. It will also affect any groundwater or waterways it enters. It should only be used as a last resort when less intrusive methods fail.
Dicamba can also be used on Creeping Charlie but does not remove it. It will only help control its growth. It is a good choice if you do not want to remove your Creeping Charlie completely but do want to keep it from overtaking your entire lawn or flowerbed.
Dicamba is still considered a dangerous herbicide. It will transform from a liquid to a vapor in warmer temperatures, so care must be taken with its application as well as storage. Dicamba can kill other plants if it comes in contact with them. Care must be used when it is applied to preserve the other plants that are near it.
Herbicide can be used at any time during the growing season but will be most effective if you treat your plants in the fall. Spraying them right before or soon after a frost will assist the weed in storing the herbicide along with the nutrients needed for the winter.
Spraying earlier in the season will not be as effective against Creeping Charlie. It is recommended you should reapply it again in the fall to have the biggest effect in controlling the growth or eliminating the weed infestation in your yard.
Mix the herbicide according to the instructions and apply it with a garden sprayer. Ensure to coat all the leaves and stems of the Creeping Charlie plant for the best results. Use care when you are applying the herbicide and avoid spraying any nearby plants or grass as they can be harmed by the application.
You should also avoid mowing around any area where you have used any herbicide. This can disrupt it from fully soaking into the roots of the Creeping Charlie plant.
After the weed has turned brown, it can be removed and disposed of in a plastic trash bag. If any of the roots are left untreated they will need to be removed when the weed is removed. If they are not removed, your Creeping Charlie can begin to grow from the root in the spring.
Using herbicides on your Creeping Charlie will require the use of personal protective equipment. Protective gloves, eyewear, and clothing that covers your arms and legs will be necessary. Ensure you store any remaining spray according to the instructions found on the label.
Do not use any herbicides around any pets and children. They should not be allowed near any plant that is treated with any herbicide.
After successfully removing all of your Creeping Charlie plants, either by pulling, smothering, natural methods, or even pesticides, you will need to take steps to prevent its return. Replanting grass and maintaining a healthy lawn will help prevent the regrowth of any weeds.
If Creeping Charlie was found in your flowerbed, ensure you fill in the area with new plants or flowers to discourage the Creeping Charlie from regrowing in that area.
Ridding your lawn or flowerbed of Creeping Charlie may not be a fun and easy task, but with hard work, it can be done. For smaller areas of just a few plants, you should first attempt to remove them by hand to lessen the impact on plants around them. You can also attempt to smother them by blocking them from sunlight for a week or longer.
If you are unsuccessful, it will be time to use natural methods or chemicals to get Creeping Charlie out of your lawn or flowerbed. Vinegar or orange oil are both proven to stop their growth. Herbicides will either stunt their growth or kill them, but you will affect other plants, children, and animals they encounter.
The best treatment for their outbreak is prevention. Keeping a healthy lawn and maintained landscape will prevent the growth of Creeping Charlie before it can overrun your lawn.