How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie | Complete Guide

You’re sitting on your porch enjoying your splendid garden, yes, the same garden your neighbors and friends can’t stop talking about. You can’t blame it though, your garden is phenomenal, and you’re proud of it. And then one day, you notice something odd; you quickly walk towards the area. It’s a different grass, definitely not what you planted. You’re going to find out what it is, but you are overwhelmed by many other activities. In a few days, the whole area is filled with the unknown grass that has formed a mat and choked the life out of all your plants. 

This is how weeds work, especially extremely aggressive ones like Creeping Charlie. They are ready to take over your space if you slip up for a little. It doesn’t matter whether you’re planting on the ground or in a raised bed, creeping Charlie is there to spoil your fun. 

Creeping Charlie is a native European plant and came into North America as a medicinal plant before turning into an aggressive, out-of-control weed. If you’ve ever had issues with this weed in your garden, you’ll want to stick around as we discuss ways to eradicate it from your space and allow your plants to thrive. But first, let’s see what it’s all about.

What is Creeping Charlie?

What is Creeping Charlie
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Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a native European plant that has found its way to different parts of the world. It grows aggressively and is difficult to control once it gets a foothold in your yard. It is a creeping plant that grows close to the ground forming a mat, hence, its name – Creeping Charlie. 

It has other common names like catfoot, ground ivy, and alehoof. This perennial plant thrives in moist shady areas. It can spread through its roots, stems, and seeds. That’s why it is so difficult to get rid of, as almost all its parts can start another plant. 

Why You Should Get Rid of Creeping Charlie?

Why You Should Get Rid of Creeping Charlie
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If you’re not yet convinced that getting rid of the Creeping Charlie in your backyard is the right choice, well, here are more reasons to remove the weed from your garden:

1. It can kill your plant

Creeping charlie in your garden can be quite dangerous for your plants as its aggressiveness will send it all over the area choking your plants and ultimately killing them.

2. It can make gardening stressful

Imagine having to weed every time you come to your garden because this fast-growing weed keeps coming back. Your gardening experience will quickly turn into a horrific one as it becomes a chore. 

3. It fights with your plants for available resources

As with most garden weeds, there’ll be an unhealthy competition for available resources, including sunlight, air, nutrients, and water. It means the vital resources coming to your plants will be minimal in the competition between your plant and Creeping Charlie. The nutrients will keep reducing as the creeping Charlie grows until it eventually starves your plant to death.

4. It is not aesthetically appealing

Everybody loves a well-groomed garden but a garden infested with Creeping Charlie? Not so much. Your space loses its appeal as Creeping Charlie begins to spread. Not only does the introduction of another grass become noticeable, but creeping Charlie will not follow the growth pattern you have set.

How to Identify Creeping Charlie in Your Garden?

Glechoma hederacea variegata or creeping charlie green plant close up
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It’s quite difficult to identify some of these weeds as most look like grass. Without a proper guide, you will not be able to differentiate or correctly identify the weed you’re facing. The first step to any eradication process is knowing the type of weed ravaging your yard. Here’s how to identify Creeping Charlie in your area:

  • It has bright yellow leaves
  • It grows low to the ground and forms a mat
  • It produces a mint flavor when crushed
  • It flowers in the spring producing a funnel-shaped bluish-purple flower
  • Kidney shaped or round leaves with collapsed edges
  • Leaves attach to the stem at the leaf node while growing opposite each other

Tools/Equipment You Need to Remove Creeping Charlie

Now that you know how dangerous creeping Charlie can be to your garden and how to identify the weed. The next step is removing the weed from your yard. But first, you need some tools/equipment.

  • Shovel
  • Fork
  • Gloves
  • Watering can
  • Waste disposal bag
  • Hose
  • Herbicide
  • Scissors
  • Garden sprayer
  • Tarp
  • Cultivator
  • Newspaper/cardboard

Bear in mind that not all these materials are needed as it depends on the method you’re employing.

How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie?

If you’ve got the necessary tools and equipment needed, you can proceed to remove creeping Charlie from your garden. There are several methods you can employ to achieve your aim.

#1. By Hand

how to get rid of Creeping Charlie By Hand
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One of the most popular and long-running weed removal methods is by hand, and Creeping Charlie is not any different. You can remove Creeping Charlie using this method if you detect it early and only have to deal with a couple of growths. Once it has spread, this method becomes a huge chore and challenging to achieve.

Prune the Weed

You should prune the Creeping Charlie back using a pair of scissors but first, make sure to wear gardening gloves because this weed can cause skin irritation. You have to cut the branches and loose stems until you’ve gotten to the main stem.

Loosen the Area

Use the gardening fork to loosen the ground around the base of the plant, so the next step is possible.

Grab the Stem and Pull

Hold the base of the primary stem and pull out the plant from the root. It should come off easily after loosening the ground. However, sometimes even after using the gardening fork, the ground may still be hard. If this is the case, soak the area with water and then pull again. 

Check for any Remaining Roots

After removing the plant, check the area for any root remaining in the ground. Leaving roots in the ground will cause continued growth next season, so you have to remove everything about the plant.

Dispose in a Waste Bag and Tie

Do not put the Creeping Charlie you’ve removed in the general waste collector as it can start growing there. Instead, put the weed in a waste bag and tie the open end. You can then keep it for the right authorities to properly dispose of it.

#2. By Herbicide

how to get rid of Creeping Charlie By Herbicide
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Another method you can apply to remove Creeping Charlie is herbicide removal. It involves the use of herbicides to kill the weed. Unlike the previous removal method where you have to manually remove the weed from the ground, using herbicide kills the weed. Using herbicide comes with many advantages, with the most significant being its ease. It doesn’t require you to spend as much energy as removing it by hand. Unfortunately, there are also some cons you should be wary of. It could cause potential damage to the plants, animals, or even water nearby.

Choose a Suitable Date

Choosing the right time to use your herbicide is the first step to eradicating the Creeping Charlie through herbicide. The best time is a weed before the first frost, just before it enters a period where it builds dominance and dormancy.

Wear Protective Gear and Mix Herbicide

Wear your protective goggles and hand gloves before mixing the herbicide. You don’t want to get any herbicide on your skin as it can irritate. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Spray the Weed and Root Area

Using your garden sprayer, pour the herbicide on the Creeping Charlie by slacking the full plant and the root area. Try to keep the herbicide away from nearby plants and water sources as much as possible.

Allow to work and Remove

Leave the herbicide on the plant for two days to work its magic. At the end of the third day, the plant should be dead, and you can then dig the plant from the ground.

Dispose Properly

You still don’t want to dispose of the dead Creeping Charlie in general waste bins. Instead, use waste disposal bags to gather the weed and tie while you wait for waste disposal services to clear them out.

#3. By Smothering

how to get rid of Creeping Charlie By Smothering
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Instead of removing by hand or using herbicide, you can employ another effective method that involves choking the Creeping Charlie. Talk about giving it a taste of its own medicine. It involves starving it of vital resources, especially light and air. Before employing this method, the Creeping Charlie must be alone in an area. That is, it shouldn’t be growing in and around your cultivated plant as it becomes difficult to choke only the weed. Removal by smothering is slower than the other two methods mentioned above.

Cover the Creeping Charlie with a Tarp, Cardboard, or Newspaper

Use any of the covering materials over the top of the Creeping Charlie. Make sure to cover the entirety of the weed and extend some inches after. Doing this means the weed doesn’t branch out outside the cover. Use stones or blocks to hold the cover down.

Leave for Two Weeks

Leave the cover for about two weeks for the Creeping Charlie to suffocate and dry out. Bear in mind that this can take longer depending on the present condition of the soil. You can start checking for brownness and dryness. 

Dig Out and Dispose

After the creeping Charlie has dried out and is dead, you can dig it out from the ground and dispose of it in a waste disposal bag. Tie the bag and wait for waste disposal services to handle the rest.

When to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie?

There are times where your removal method becomes more effective. These periods are classified as the best time to remove creeping Charlie. If you can, you want to stick to removing the weed around this time as you have a higher chance of success. 

The best time to get rid of this weed is mid to late autumn before the first frost. This period is when most plants, including Creeping Charlie, aggressively send nutrients to their roots to grow. Using herbicides around this period will ensure the herbicide is quickly sent down and can start working. This period is also a vulnerable time for creeping Charlie as it is yet to establish dormancy during the winter.

How to Prevent Creeping Charlie from Coming Back?

Okay, you’ve succeeded in removing the troublesome creeping Charlie from your yard. Now it’s time to rest, right? Not really, as you may have missed some roots or dormant seeds in the soil that can germinate next season. You have to actively employ methods to prevent this weed from coming back.

Reduce the Space between Plants

By reducing the space between plants, you leave little room for weeds like creeping Charlie to grow. Grow your plants as close as possible so they can easily choke out any weed.

Deep and Infrequent Watering

Overwatering your garden can weaken your plant and aid the growth of weeds like creeping Charlie. Instead, focus on deep watering at a time as this would improve the growth of strong roots, putting your plants in the best position to fight any weed.

Do not Mow too Low

Mowing your lawn too low will weaken your grass and leave patches for creeping charlie to spring out. Keep the height decent to fill the area and grow stronger.

Use Pre-emergent Herbicide

Pre-emergent herbicides are used before weeds sprout to prevent growth. Instead of waiting for these weeds to germinate, pre-emergents attack the roots and plant under the soil before it shoots.


Creeping Charlie is aggressive and quite difficult to eradicate from your garden. Early detection is vital in controlling the spread and removal of the weed. The methods mentioned above will help you remove this troublesome weed and allow your plants to grow properly.

About Jennifer Igra

Growing up in Brooklyn, New York City known for it’s green gardens. Jennifer, a 30 year old gardener and green living fanatic started Igra World to share her gardening journey and increase gardening awareness among masses. Follow Igra World to improve your gardening skills.

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