If you’re a gardener, you most likely have encountered this weed in your garden, and you’ll agree with me handling this weed is difficult.
Only dandelions can claim to be a tougher weed to remove. You can see why most gardeners detest the thought of creeping Charlie in their backyard. Because of its toughness, special techniques need to be employed to rid your garden of this invader.
In general, weeds are a nuisance in gardens, growing where they are not planted and fighting with your cultivated plants for nutrients.
What is Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a native European plant grown for its medicinal and ornamental value. Creeping Charlie, however, transformed into a difficult weed to control.
Creeping Charlie is, as the name implies, is a creeping perennial weed with small green leaves. It likes to grow in shady, moist areas but can survive in areas with a little sun. Creeping Charlie is called ground ivy in some climes and spreads by seeds and rhizomes.
This weed is a member of the mint family and releases pleasant scents when cut. You can quickly identify this weed by its growth pattern. It has green creeping vines that quickly form a mat on the ground’s surface. During the spring, it produces purple flowers.
Creeping Charlie is so tough that there is barely any pest and disease attacking it. It can even make your livestock sick, so keeping this weed as livestock feed is not advisable.
In this article, I’ll show you everything you need to do to handle this nuisance whenever it creeps out in places it is not wanted.
Do You Need to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie?
Creeping Charlie is classified as a broadleaf weed, but broadleaf herbicides do not affect it. You need to employ unique methods to kill creeping Charlie. Before you go on the offensive, creeping Charlie can be beneficial in some cases.
Here are some creeping Charlie benefits. These benefits will allow you to see if you need to rid your garden of creeping Charlie or control its spread.
- It can serve as a groundcover: a creeping plant that forms a mat on the ground. Although this can have adverse effects when blocking the fertilizer and other nutrients from reaching the ground, it is useful when it covers an open space without cultivated plants.
- As an ornamental plant: creeping Charlie has kidney-shaped light green leaves. The shape of its leaves, its bright purple flowers, and its pleasant scent makes it an excellent ornamental plant to have. So, instead of killing this plant, you may want to make use of its decorative value.
- Can be used as herbs: this plant can serve as herbs in meals and can even be eaten raw, although it may have a tangy taste. Use creeping Charlie leaves when they are young and less unpleasant.
- Attracts pollinators: creeping Charlie produces purple flowers that attract pollinators like bees and butterflies to your garden. So if you’re looking to have a butterfly garden or want to attract pollinators to help pollinate other plants, you may want to leave this weed.
Tools and Materials Needed
Here are the tools and materials you need to effectively remove creeping Charlie from your backyard, depending on the method you use.
- Garden fork
- Protective goggles
- Pump sprayer
How to Kill Creeping Charlie?
The best time to tackle creeping Charlie is in its early stage when it is still tender and has not produced seed.
If you decide to rid your backyard of creeping Charlie after going through its benefits, here are a few practical ways to do it.
1. Hand Pulling
If you notice the growth of creeping Charlie early enough, you may be able to pull off this hand pulling method.
Early detection means the weed has not spread over a large area. You can easily handle the weed by manually pulling it off the ground.
Water the ground a day before to make it easier to pull off the weed. Ensure to wear a glove as the mint properties in creeping Charlie can cause allergies for some people.
Grab the leaves from the vine and use a fork to dig out the rhizome while pulling the plant. Hand pulling is an effective way to tackle different weeds in your backyard.
Ensure you remove all parts of the creeping Charlie from the ground and bag them. Creeping Charlie can regrow if any part of it is left in the ground, or even removed and left lying on the ground.
2. Use Herbicides
The hand-pulling method is limited to small infestation; when there is a total creeping Charlie infestation in your garden, or you’re dealing with a large expanse of land, you need to employ a different method.
The use of herbicides to kill weeds is useful when dealing with a large area.
You need specific herbicides as regular broadleaf herbicides do not affect creeping Charlie. The best time to use a herbicide on creeping Charlie is after the first frost during fall. Check the forecast and select a day not predicted to receive rainfall within the next 24 hours after application.
Mix the herbicide with water according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Spray the leaves and stem, making sure to avoid spraying any cultivated plant. If up to 50% of the area has been infested with creeping Charlie, you may want to spray the whole site and regrow your lawn.
Allow it to work throughout winter, and then rake the dried weed during spring.
Should You Use Borax to Kill Creeping Charlie?
Using borax to kill creeping Charlie adds boron to the soil, and research has shown the addition of boron to the soil can make it difficult to re-establish your lawn. For this reason, avoid using borax to kill creeping Charlie.
How to Prevent Creeping Charlie from Returning to Your Backyard?
After killing off the creeping Charlie present in your backyard, if you do not take care, you’ll have more creeping Charlie attacking again in a short while.
How do you stop this from happening?
Weeds thrive in malnourished soil. When the soil is lacking in essential nutrients, it leaves it vulnerable to attack. Here’s what to do to forestall another attack.
- Overseed bare patches: filling up bare patches of your lawn by overseeding will leave no room for creeping Charlie.
- Fertilize: by fertilizing your cultivated plants regularly, you boost its growth, making it able to fight off any weed.
- Mow high: mowing high will leave your lawn thick, ready to choke out any weed that raises its head. Creeping Charlie can quickly overrun a thin lawn.
Although creeping Charlie is a tough weed to tackle, detecting, and fighting it early in its growth will give you your best chance of success.
You can also decide to control its growth to allow you to enjoy its many benefits, rather than killing it off entirely.