How to Kill Creeping Charlie

Most homeowners hate how weeds look in their lawn. Unfortunately, getting rid of these common pests isn’t always as easy as pulling them out of the ground—especially when you’re dealing with the notoriously tough creeping Charlie. Creeping Charlie is a tough and stubborn weed that can take root in your lawn and cause your grass to look dry and dead.

Thankfully, there are a few steps that you can take to get rid of this stubborn weed for good. Our guide will help you tackle current creeping Charlie growth and create a lawn that’s inhospitable for future weeds. 

What is Creeping Charlie?

Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is a type of evergreen herb that can take root in almost every type of soil and can thrive in almost any climate. Creeping Charlie is a close relative of mint and is sometimes referred to as “ground ivy.” Creeping Charlie is a perennial plant, which means that it will grow back seasonally for at least two years.

You can identify creeping Charlie by looking for its distinct shape. Creeping Charlie grows district club-shaped leaves, square stalks, and pretty purple flowers. At first glance, creeping Charlie might not look like much of a threat to your lawn. But don’t be fooled—this weed is notorious for being annoyingly difficult to get rid of. Creeping Charlie’s roots are made up of hardy and tough fibers called “rhizomes” which can withstand harsh conditions and soil that lacks nutrients. Despite being a broadleaf weed, creeping Charlie is unaffected by standard broadleaf herbicides.

Think that you can just pull creeping Charlie out of your lawn as it springs up? Be sure that you pull out all of each plant’s roots—if even a single rhizome is left in your soil, the plant will likely pop up again next year, as these invasive roots can lay dormant for months. This is why it’s important to have a solid plan when it comes to tackling creeping Charlie in your lawn. 

Natural Methods to Kill Creeping Charlie

Homeowners can use both natural and chemical methods to get rid of creeping Charlie. The best method for you will vary depending on where you live, your local climate, the condition of your lawn, and the number of plants growing on your property. Let’s take a look at a few natural methods you can use to tackle small infestations first. 

Hand pulling

If you only have a few creeping Charlie weeds in your lawn, you may be able to tackle it quickly by removing them by hand. Get to work as soon as you notice this hardy weed in your lawn—waiting can allow the plant to spread, which can mean more work on your part.

Before pulling out the creeping Charlie, we recommend putting on a pair of gloves, as the mint portions of the weed can cause allergic reactions. Wet the ground near the weed before you pull—this will soften the roots and make the rhizomes easier to remove. Be sure to remove all parts of the weed both aboveground and beneath the soil. While this method isn’t the most effective for moderate or large infestations of creeping Charlie, it can help you stop a small patch before it’s able to spread to other sections of your lawn. 

Smother with shade

Though creeping Charlie is a tenacious plant that can thrive in both shade and sun, it’s possible to excise a larger patch of this weed from your lawn by completely blocking out the sun and smothering it. Remember that creeping Charlie is persistent, so you’ll need to be sure that you’ve thoroughly smothered the weed. This method is most effective when you have a single moderate patch of creeping Charlie in one localized area. Be aware that any other plants suffocated alongside the creeping Charlie will also likely die.

First, measure the area where the creeping Charlie is growing in your lawn. Then, completely cover the area with a newspaper, tarp, or cardboard to completely block out the sunlight. Extend the coverage at least 12 inches beyond the roots of the plant to be sure that you’re completely killing all of the weed’s extended rhizomes. Weight the edges of the cover with bricks to prevent it from blowing away in the wind or being removed by an animal overnight.

Depending on the conditions of your soil, it may take a week or more for all of the creeping Charlie to die off. Take a peek every few days and look for green. When there is no more green left and your creeping Charlie looks shriveled and brown, you can remove the cover and pluck out the remaining strands of creeping Charlie. Be sure to dispose of it thoroughly—leaving behind rhizomes or roots can cause the weed to return. 

Killing Creeping Charlie with Chemicals 

If you have a serious issue with creeping Charlie in your lawn, your best bet is usually to tackle it with herbicides. Remember that creeping Charlie is largely unaffected by standard broadleaf herbicides—so when you search for a remedy, looking for a solution that contains tricolpyr or dicamba. You can also ask your local lawn care service provider to visit your property and spray for creeping Charlie.

Before spraying, put on a pair of long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and a pair of gardening gloves to protect your skin from the harsh chemicals in the herbicide. Mix the herbicide together in a garden sprayer according to instructions from the manufacturer.

You can spray for creeping Charlie at any point of the year when the weed isn’t in its winter dormant stage. However, the most effective time to spray is right before the first frost. Spray the herbicide on creeping Charlie, concentrating on the leaves and ensuring that all leaves are covered. Do not mow for at least two days after you apply your herbicide, as this allows the chemicals to soak into the roots of the plant. This ensures that the creeping Charlie cannot regerminate in the spring.  

Preventing Creeping Charlie With Herbicides

If your lawn sees problems with creeping Charlie year after year, applying a pre-emergent herbicide can help you tackle infestations before they can take root in your lawn. A pre-emergent herbicide is a special type of chemical that lays dormant in your soil and kills off weeds before they can germinate. Using a pre-emergent herbicide saves you time and money by tackling the problem before creeping Charlie is able to damage your grass.

You can find pre-emergent herbicide at your local gardening center, hardware store, or online source for lawn care tools. Look for a product designed to eliminate creeping Charlie or ground ivy. Mix the solution with water according to the directions from the manufacturer and add transfer the solution to a hand spray bottle. If using a granular solution, transfer the mixture directly to your granular spreader. Apply evenly to your lawn and be sure that you cover every area that receives direct sunlight. Pay special attention to patchy areas of your lawn.

Preventing Creeping Charlie by Maintaining a Healthy Lawn

Creeping Charlie tends to take root in lawns that are ill-maintained or that are suffering from a lawn disease or fungus. Maintaining a healthy lawn is a simple and affordable way to prevent creeping Charlie from taking over your property—and it helps you increase your curb appeal as well. Using these tips and tricks throughout the year can empower you to fight off creeping Charlie and other lawn weeds on your own.

  • Mow your lawn regularly: Long grass doesn’t only look bad—it can also make it more difficult for your grass to take the nutrients it needs from your soil. When your grass is too long, grassroots may struggle to get water and oxygen from the atmosphere, causing your grass to weaken and leaving room for weeds to move in on your lawn.

If creeping Charlie tends to be a regular problem in your lawn, you may want to set your mower to a higher setting. Taller grass tends to shade your soil, which makes it more difficult for weeds to put roots down in your lawn. However, remember that leaving your grass too long will weaken your grass’s roots—so have a plan before you mow and stick to it.

  • Overseed patches in your grass: Do you have a bare spot in your lawn? If you do, don’t be surprised if creeping Charlie decides to move in. Weeds like creeping Charlie are resilient and can grow even in areas where grass is having trouble thriving.

Thankfully, there’s a simple solution for bare patches in your lawn—overseeding. Overseeding is the process of planting new grass patches in areas where grass has died off in your lawn and regularly touching up these areas until your lawn is even. Experts recommend that you overseed once a year to keep your lawn thick, even if you don’t currently have bare patches in your lawn. Maintaining a consistent grass length through professional overseeding treatments will make it more difficult for creeping Charlie to invade your soil.

  • Irrigate and fertilize your lawn: Your best weapon against weeds is a healthy lawn. When your grass’s roots are healthy, your grass can grow thicker in your yard. This provides fewer opportunities for weeds to leach nutrients from your soil. Fertilizing your lawn annually feeds your soil and provides your grass seeds with the strength it needs to crowd out weeds.

In addition to fertilizing your lawn, you’ll also want to make sure that your lawn is properly draining after you water it. Creeping Charlie has an easier time growing in cool, damp soil, which means that leaving your lawn wet can increase your chances of dealing with this common weed. If you water your lawn, make sure there are no areas on your property where the water tends to pool.

Looking for an easy way to maintain a healthy lawn year-round? Professional lawn care service providers like TruGreen offer comprehensive packages that provide you with professional lawn care customized to the needs of your soil every season. 

Clearing Creeping Charlie From Your Lawn

Right next to dandelions, creeping Charlie can be one of the most frustrating lawn care issues to get rid of and expel from your property for good. If you’re currently dealing with creeping Charlie in your lawn, know that you don’t need to tackle this pesky weed on your own.

TruGreen is a professional lawn care service provider trained to get rid of some of the toughest weeds. From creeping Charlie to moss, TruGreen only employs expert technicians who understand how to assess your soil, create a plan of action to get rid of weeds on your property, and leave you with the green, lush grass that you’ve been dreaming of. All you’ll need to worry about is how you want to use your lawn this season.

The team at TruGreen is standing by to assist you with all of your lawn care needs. Give us a call today at 877-349-9084 to learn more and get started with a free quote from TruGreen.