What is Creeping Charlie?
Ground Ivy (Glechoma hederacea), also known as “Creeping Charlie”, “Creeping Jenny”, and “Gill-over-the-Ground”, is a common perennial, evergreen weed found growing in moist and shady areas. It produces bright green, round or kidney-shaped leaves that have scalloped edges. The leaves are produced opposite each other on square (four sided), creeping stems that root at the nodes. In spring, small bluish-purple, funnel-shaped flowers appear. When the plant is crushed, it produces a strong mint-like odor. This plant is competitive in lawn situations because it creeps along the soil surface and can establish roots at each node (where the leaf attaches to the stem).
This persistent weed grows most successfully in damp shady areas and sparse lawns. Good practices that encourage a thick and healthy lawn are the first line of defense against ground ivy. Increasing sunlight to the lawn by trimming trees, fertilizing, and watering turf grass properly and cutting the lawn to the correct height will promote vigorous growth of the turf. Small, isolated patches of ground ivy can be hand-pulled. Keep pulling out the ground ivy as it reappears, and over time you can eliminate this pesky weed. In many cases, however, ground ivy is so wide spread that the only practical solution is chemical control.
Products containing triclopyr have proven to be highly effective. Many products available to home owners contain triclopyr. An application after the first frost is often particularly effective. During this period, plants are drawing nutrients from their leaves and into their roots for storage over the winter, and herbicides are more effectively moved into the roots, resulting in better control. Applications are also effective in the spring during ground ivy’s blooming period (typically April to June). In both cases, repeat applications may be necessary to achieve complete control. When using an herbicide for ground ivy control, be sure to read and follow all label instructions of the product that you select to ensure that you use the product in the safest and most effective manner possible. Borax has been touted as an organic control for ground ivy. Research has shown that borax does not provide long-term control of ground ivy, and can injure turf and other plants. Thus, borax is not recommended for ground ivy or other broadleaf weed control.