The Q&A Archives: Creeping Charlie

Question: When I bought my house, the previous owner did not take care of the lawn. Now, especially in the back, it is infested with violets and lawn ivy (creeping Charlie?) and I cannot get rid of it no matter what product I use. Not even Roundup kills the violets. Can you suggest anything that will that will not destroy the soil or environment? Thank you!

Answer: Wild violets are really difficult to control because they grow from underground bulbs which store lots of energy for regrowth if the tops of the plants are mowed down. The only way to remove these pesty weeds is to dig them out, roots and all. You can try painting the tops of the plants with Round Up but this will kill only the tops, not the bulbs so repeat applications will be necessary. Of course if you get Round Up on your turf, it will kill the turf as well. Wish there were an easier solution, but digging them up, bulbs and all, is the only way to eliminate wild violets.

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) can be a real pest. Many gardeners have had good luck eradicating the plant by mixing 10 ounces 20-Mule Team Borax in 2-1/2 gallons of water and applying the mixture to the weeds. The boron doesn't affect turfgrass, but overwhelms the roots of creeping Charlie. Cool weather reduces its effectiveness so apply when the weather is warm. The University of Minnesota and Iowa State University have tested this recipe and report good results. Hope it works for you, too.

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