The Q&A Archives: creeping charlie

Question: How do I git rid of creeping charlie avery bad case.

Answer: Creeping charlie (Glechoma hederacea), also known as ground ivy and creeping jenny, is a low-growing perennial weed that thrives in moist, shady areas of the lawn and garden, but will invade sunny areas, too, if the lawn is thin. The four-sided stems grow to lengths of 15-30 inches with roots forming at the nodes, where leaves join the stem. Its leaves resemble those of the common geranium, round and scalloped, but are much smaller in size. In the early spring an abundance of tiny, lavender to blue flowers appear on 2 or 3-inch spikes. Try to maintain a healthy lawn by regular and proper mowing, watering, and fertilizing, and reducing shade when possible in excessively shady areas. These cultural steps will greatly contribute to a more weed-free lawn by encouraging thicker grass.

If you catch it early, you may be able to control creeping charlie by pulling it out. If it becomes thick, you can use a special tool called a dethatching rake. This helps to comb through the grass, pulling much of the viny weed out. It doesn't eliminate it, but may keep it in check. (Some grass will be pulled up in the process.) Using this tool is more physically demanding than fall leaf raking, however. It provides a strenuous workout, and may be more laborious than what you wish to undertake. This operation dethatches the lawn and cuts into the soil. Afterwards, you can work in some shade-tolerant grass seed to replace the creeping charlie. The best time to do this is between mid-August and mid-September. Choose a time when the weather is beginning to feel cooler.

You may control creeping charlie chemically by applying a herbicide containing 2,4-D and MCPP as its active ingredients. The herbicide will damage or possibly kill any woody or broad-leafed vegetation that comes in contact with the spray, so it must be used with caution.

If you have areas with more creeping charlie than lawn, you may wish to start over. Strip it off with a sod lifter (a hand tool), a sod cutter (a power tool) or apply glyphosate (a non-selective herbicide, sold as Roundup) to kill the entire area. Then you can seed or sod.

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