Creeping Charlie goes by a few different names, including ground ivy or, scientifically, Lysimachia nummularia. No matter what you call it, though, creeping Charlie is a perennial pest that’s hard to get rid of.
You’ll likely notice it in your yard where there are shady areas. For example, around trees and near fences.
While it isn’t an ugly weed, it can have a few pretty ugly effects. This includes that it can be poisonous to animals in large doses on top of standard negative effects of weeds.
How to Spot Creeping Charlie
The first step to ridding your lawn of creeping Charlie is to know how to spot it. This means knowing the identifying characteristics of creeping Charlie.
The stem of creeping Charlie is square-shaped, making it fairly recognizable. As for length, the stem can grow from a few inches long to up to two feet long.
You can also recognize creeping Charlie by its leaves. These are often either dark green or purple.
The ivy sports purple flowers as well. These flowers have a funnel shape and the plant, as a whole, the plant grows in a dense mat.
Creeping Charlie is close to another plant, creeping Jenny but there are a few distinct differences. The main one to watch out for is that creeping Jenny doesn’t have the scallop-edged leaves of creeping Charlie.
The best way to avoid a problem with weeds on your lawn is to prevent them from cropping up. This means that, when you have the chance, you should take precautions to avoid the problem altogether.
Luckily, there are a few ways that you can prevent creeping Charlie from growing on your lawn.
The best way to do this is to make sure your lawn is generally healthy. Dense, well-fed lawns aren’t as inhabitable for weeds as a lawn with glaring bald spots.
You can also help reduce your chances for a weed infestation by leaving your grass a little tall. Mowing high will help block the sunlight that a low-growing weed would need to thrive.
When you’re trying to take these precautions after you’ve used one of the treatment options below, there’s something to know. That is, never throw any clippings containing creeping Charlie in back on your lawn.
This is because, like many weeds, creeping Charlie is resilient. If you happen to toss clippings back on your lawn, it’s likely to take root again.
Now, we’ll take a look at what you can do when you find creeping Charlie already growing on your lawn.
Removing Creeping Charlie by Hand
If you don’t want to put any chemicals on your lawn, it’s possible to remove creeping Charlie by hand. This makes for a great choice when you want to remove creeping Charlie from edible garden areas.
However, this is the most labor-intensive method to choose from. So, you’ll want to be ready to put a little hard work and time into the project.
To get started, take the time to trim away the leaves and stems from the creeping Charlie. You can use garden shears for this and just leave enough to pull out of the ground manually.
Once you’ve done this, use a hose to soak the area you’re working in by thoroughly soaking the soil. You’ll want to wait up to a minute before proceeding to make the ground easier to work with.
Next, you’ll want to loosen the soil. You can do this with a pitchfork and keep going until you see the white roots called rhizomes.
Now, you can get to work pulling the weeds out. As you do, make sure to put everything you pull up in a waste bag to avoid recontamination, so do not put it to the composter.
Before calling it a day, take your time to carefully check over your work area. You want to make sure you got all of the roots up to fully get rid of the creeping Charlie.
Using Chemical Solutions on Creeping Charlie
If your patch of creeping Charlie is too large to hand pull, the other option you have is using a chemical combatant. The benefit of this is that it doesn’t take as much work to rid your lawn of creeping Charlie.
There are a few downsides to herbicides, though. It may kill your grass as well, depending on the herbicide, and you should be careful around pets and children.
Luckily, you can sometimes limit the damage an herbicide does to your lawn. To reduce damage, specifically, only spray areas with creeping Charlie.
When you’re spraying creeping Charlie with an herbicide, you need to choose the right time. It’s best to do this when you have a day with low wind and no precipitation after the first frost.
To start, prepare your herbicide as the instructions guide you to. Make sure to be precise in this step to avoid mistakes and wear gloves and protective eyewear.
Once the herbicide is ready, you can start spraying the creeping Charlie. You’ll want to focus on it and carefully spray the leaves and stems while remaining aware of overspray.
After you’re done, leave it. If you waiting until after the first frost, you can leave it until spring even.
Then, you can rake up debris in the spring. To restore the lawn, till the soil and add a nitrogen-rich fertilizer before reseeding the grass.
To maintain the aesthetics and general health of your lawn, it’s important to make sure you keep weeds under control. This means that if you see something like creeping Charlie crop up, you have to know how to handle it.
Luckily, there are a few different ways that you can choose from, depending on your needs. From prevention to reacting to signs of creeping Charlie, use what you’ve learned here to keep your lawn in shape!