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Creeping Charley in the lawn

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Creeping charley is a tough weed to eliminate. (If you search the Internet for more info, the scientific name Glechoma hederacea can be a good search term, or the alternate common names gill-over-the-ground and ground ivy.)



You can dig it out or kill it and then overseed with good lawn grass. Then keep that grass watered and fertilized and pampered and treated with pre-emergent herbicide on bare and thin patches until the grass becomes very thick, casting defnse shade on all the soil at its feet. Pre-emergent weed control is essential because the Glechoma's seed has most certainly fallen on and still resides in that soil.


Thus, better than re-starting the lawn by seed is to lay down sod. That is like mulching -- new grass already so thick it can keep the ground ivy seeds from sprouting. Either way, you must also keep the ground ivy from re-invading from neighboring properties or where it's established in adjacent beds. (We wrote about this in one of our newsletters; you can download and read that from this URL:)



Regarding alternate methods of killing the creeping charlie: One of our readers reported that the Boraxo treatment method worked -- basically you make a paste of the detergent Boraxo, and spread it on the creeping charlie. She told us that it was tricky to make the paste just right so she could pour it/slop it yet have it stick to the leaves.


Other herbicides apply more easily and do the same thing as the boric acid in Boraxo does -- kill the foliage of the plant they contact. The active ingredient is often vinegar or a fatty acid. The effect is like pulling the plant manually - it can get a bunch of it but usually some rooted bits remain and will resurge, so the gardener has to watch for that and re-apply the herbicide.


There are also herbicides such as 2,4 D that kill broad leaf weeds while sparing grass.


However, the most effective campaigns we've seen began by killing everything in the infested area, ground ivy/creeping charley and grass, using glyphosate (Roundup et al) or by smothering everything under paper and heavy mulch.


Sorry to report this but it's the truth as we've seen it. The only smile we can muster about this weed has to do with our having seen it for sale in hanging baskets in home store garden departments in southern California and in the dry eastern part of Oregon. We looked, gaped, and then thought seriously about the differences between growing a garden in the Midwest where we're blessed with rain and moist soil, and gardening in dry regions. Where we once thought it must be heavenly to garden in those other regions, now we know it's tough enough that they must resort to growing weeds!

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