How to get rid of creeping Charlie

Are you worried that the malicious creeping Charlie is taking over your lawn?

Are you worried that the malicious creeping Charlie is taking over your lawn? If you prefer it didn’t, here are both organic and chemical methods that can banish it altogether.

What you’ll need is the following:

  • A Spade or pitchfork
  • A pair of Gardening shears
  • Weed apparatus
  • A pair of hardy Garden gloves
  • A pair of Safety goggles/eyewear
  • Garden hosepipe
  • Herbicide Pump sprayer
  • Herbicide
  • Lawn debris bags
getting rid of creeping charlie
Photo by apugach from iStock

Method 1: Removing creeping charlie by hand

Getting rid of creeping Charlie without using chemicals is the ideal way for patches that are near consumable plants, children, or animals that could be affected by chemicals. Always wear your protective gardening gloves before starting the process.

  1. Clip the leaves and stems: Clip the leaves and crawling stems from the plant using the pair of gardening shears, leaving a fair amount above the ground to pull with your hands. Place the trimmings in the lawn debris bag.
  2. Wet the Area: With the garden hosepipe, wet the area infested with the creeping Charlie. Make sure to soak the soil thoroughly and wait for about 30- 60 minutes before going on.
  3. Slacken off Soil: Loosen up the soil with the pitchfork or spade to uncover some of the roots and bulbs.
  4. Pull out the Roots: Grip the plant at its bottom, and pull out to remove the roots. If the roots are somewhat deep, loosen the soil with the pitchfork to take them away all in one pull. Place the whole plant and its roots in the waste bag.
  5. Review the area: Using a garden trowel or weed tool, check the area for any remaining rhizomes and get rid of them. Removing all the bulbs you see will make any later removal efforts stress-free. The hand-pulling method typically needs just a few passes especially if you act as soon as you identify them.

Method 2: Blocking sunlight

Even the ground Ivy needs sunlight to survive even though it prospers in shady areas. Therefore, you could destroy it by blocking it from sunlight. The heat from the sun and the omission of light will burn it.

However, be warned that any plants beneath the cover may also die, including any attractive plants you may want to retain. This will occur in several days to weeks.

Other steps to smother sunlight are;

  1. Cover the creeping Charlie: you can also use newspaper or cardboard as an alternative to the tarp to block out the sunlight. Since the roots under the ground spread out, make sure the blockade outspreads nearly 6”-1 foot from the creeper and leaves on all sides. This procedure will only work if there are no gaps, hence weighing down the shield with rocks or bricks. This will prevent it from blowing away and allowing any ray of sun in.
  2. Maintain it covered until brown: The results will not show overnight; instead, wait for a week at maximum and take a peek to check if the leaves have browned. If there are still any green leaves present, place the cover back and wait for more days.
  3. Take out the creeping Charlie: Pull the depleted creeping Charlie out by the roots and discard it and be cautious not to leave any of it on your lawn. Creeping Charlie vines have nodules at the bottom of each leaf stem. These nodules can form roots if they fall upon the soil and hence regrow.

Method 3: Removing creeping charlie using chemicals (Herbicides)

If the area infested by creeping Charlie is too big to pull out by hand, it’s better to use a chemical weed killer. You can use a product that eradicates all plants in the area and then wipe the slate clean and replant. Or you can spray the creeping Charlie with a less harsh product, like a broadleaf herbicide.

Although creeping Charlie weed is regarded as a broadleaf weed, it is not affected by just any broadleaf variety of herbicides. The only weed killers that are effective at eliminating creeping Charlie are those that contain Dicamba. Even dicamba is only fruitful if used more than a few times at the correct time. As always, read and follow instructions before using any chemicals.

Follow the below tips when using an herbicide to kill creeping Charlie:

  • The perfect time to spray the Dicamba-based weed killer on Charlie is in the early fall after the first frost when it is growing most actively. This will weaken it enough to have it not endure the winter season. Conversely, you can also administer the herbicide from the end of spring to the beginning of summer. But applying during this period will only inhibit its growth rather than remove creeping Charlie from your lawn.
  • Make sure it will not rain or snow within 24 hours after you spray.
  • Choose a day that is not windy, so the weed killer doesn’t blow onto the neighboring plants you want.
  • Similarly, only spray Dicamba herbicide three days after mowing and avoid mowing three days after administering it. This will let the creeping Charlie grow more leaves hence taking in more herbicide, which will give time for the herbicide to work through the plant’s structure.
  • After spraying the area, discontinue it through winter. The creeping Charlie will perish, and its roots will decay in the soil.
  • In the spring, dig up any dead plant remains, treat the soil, and plant again something you like.

Remember not to overspray as too much of something is poisonous. Also, correctly hold the sprayer at a steady distance from the ground and make sure you cover all areas within the radius that you’re spraying.

Fact about Borax: Boron or commonly known as Borax, has always been recommended for killing the creeping Charlie. However, the latest research shows that adding Borax to the soil can create an adverse growing environment, even in the least amounts. The unfavorable environment will be challenging to regrow fresh turf grass. Besides, the use of Borax on the ground is termed illegal.

How to prevent the creeping charlie from growing back

You finally got rid of the nuisance creeping Charlie, so how do you make sure history doesn’t repeat itself?

The only easily applicable method is to maintain a healthy lawn. The creeping Charlie only thrives in unhealthy gardens, so be consistent in keeping your lawn clean and well-maintained.

Mow your lawn regularly, have consistent watering schedules, and do not miss to feed your grass with a suitable fertilizer. These practices will be sure to result in a thick and lush lawn that will leave no room for the creeping Charlie to ‘creep’ back. The dense growth also prevents the sunlight from hitting the ground beneath the grass, which catalyzes the growth of creeping Charlie and other weeds.

As harmful and invasive as the creeping Charlie is, it also has some advantages. This plant’s creeping nature makes it a good ground cover for stopping erosion. It can even thrive as a ground cover in shaded places that cannot put up with grass.

The blue-violet blossoms in the spring can attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. But still, it grows haphazardly and interferes with the growth of other plants. Use the methods we’ve suggested, and always act fast to prevent it from spreading and causing more damage.