Avoiding Charlie's Stalker Attempts
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Glechoma hederacea, more commonly known as creeping Charlie or ground ivy, is a tenacious and versatile weed that can be challenging to eradicate. In the early spring, this member of the mint family will spread rapidly to cover any bare ground with a carpet of tiny, round, scalloped-edged green leaves and tiny, violet-blue flowers. It's attractive, and its variegated (and much less invasive) cousin, Variegata, is commonly sold as a ground cover or cascading filler for planters in nurseries.
However, do not let yourself be enchanted. Creeping Charlie, if left unchecked, can quickly take over a lawn or other landscaped area. It has a creeping, low-growing habit and can quickly overtake its surroundings. Moist, shady places are ideal, as it can survive where grass and other plants can't. Take immediate action upon detection, or you may find yourself in for an uphill struggle. Creeping Charlie in your yard? Try one of these tried-and-true methods for getting rid of it.
As a company, Bob Vila and its parent company, Recurrent Ventures, prioritize environmental responsibility and conservation in virtually every endeavor. Some of the advice presented here is effective, but not necessarily natural or long-term. The team at Bob Vila hopes to empower homeowners to make smart decisions about property care. Prioritize solutions that will not negatively impact the health and longevity of the planet and its inhabitants, and always begin with the least extreme option before moving on to the next level if necessary.
While prevention of new infestations is preferable, Creeping Charlie can be eradicated in a number of ways. Because some methods are more efficient than others and some take more time or effort to implement, having patience is essential. Like with insect pests, the best way to combat invasive plants is to start slow and gradually increase the pressure until the invaders are finally driven back.
Choose a day with no or light breeze when implementing any of the below methods; this helps prevent drift of any sprays or the seeds on the plants you pull. Put on some gloves and some long sleeves because working with these weeds can give you an itchy rash if you don't. Wearing protective gloves, sleeves, pants, and shoes when handling chemicals is a must.
After the weedy Creeping Charlie has been removed, substitute native ground cover or shade-loving grasses for the bare soil.
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The removal of large patches of Creeping Charlie by hand is not advised. This perennial weed can spread through seeds, rhizomes, and creeping stems that can root where they lie, so getting rid of it will take an extremely long time and yield very poor results. If a plant has flowered and seeded, you could pull up the root and provide a good environment for the next year's crop to grow. A few plants here and there, however, are easy enough to remove with your bare hands.
The Gardening gloves
- Watering can
FIRST STEP: Cut Creeping Charlie back to its roots.
Wear long sleeves and good gardening gloves that are on the thin side. Some people are allergic to Creeping Charlie, and it can irritate and itch their skin. Remove any unanchored vines from the weed by cutting them back. This will help you see where the weeds are so you can pull or dig them out. If you'd like more support while kneeling, pick up a knee pad.
As a second step, pull the plant up by its roots.
Yanking something out of dry, hard ground is easier if you water the area first to soften it. Use a rooting tool or cultivator to break up the soil around the roots if they're particularly deep. Do not leave pulled plants lying around; instead, place them in a garbage bag right away.
Third, dig up the entire root system and dispose of the soil fragments.
After you've pulled up every last Creeping Charlie plant, go back over the soil with your hands or a cultivator to make sure you got every last bit of the plant's roots. Little pieces of the plant that are forgotten or wander off will eventually reseed themselves.
Weeding Equipment Buying Guide - Related!
In order to get rid of a larger patch of Creeping Charlie, you need to block out the sun for a while. Keep in mind that this weed prefers the dark, so complete sun avoidance is necessary for this method to work. Keep in mind that you will lose any other plants that are in the area at the same time as the Creeping Charlie, so only use this method if you have a complete infestation of the weed or if you plan to reseed the area afterward.
Cardboard and Newsprint
Shelter: Tarp; Weights: Stones or Bricks
How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie by Hand or with an Adjustable Hoe by DonSail (https://www.amazon.com/DonSail-Hoe-Garden-Tool/dp/B09DVSB4BS/?tag=bv-how-to-get-rid-of-creeping-charlie-20&asc_source=browser&asc_refurl=https://www.bobvila.com/
First, you'll want to block the sun from reaching the Creeping Charlie by completely covering the area.
To prevent the Creeping Charlie from getting sunburned, construct a sunshade out of a tarp, cardboard, or newspaper. Coverage should be extended 6–12 inches beyond the vines and leaves because the roots in the ground can spread beyond the surface. In order to prevent the cover from blowing back and allowing light to reach the plants, you can weight it down with rocks or bricks.
TWO, Hold off for a week or more.
Submerging the Creeping Charlie could take a week or more, depending on the quality of your soil. When the week is up, check under the tarp to see if any green is still there; if so, replace the cover for another few days. Creeping Charlie is officially dead when its leaves wither and turn brown.
Third, manually extricate the decomposing Creeping Charlie.
Similar to the hand-pulling method, remove the Creeping Charlie from the ground and throw it away. You can either use a handheld cultivator or a stirrup hoe, depending on the size of the area and how much you mind working on your hands and knees. It should be much simpler to remove after death, and failure to do so may result in Creeping Charlie's regrowth from any living nodes or roots.
How to Get Rid of a Creeping Charlie the Natural Way
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Even if you pull or smother a lot of Creeping Charlie, it will inevitably return from its roots or seeds. Once they've tried pulling or smothering without success, many gardeners try an organic solution or do-it-yourself method in the hopes of avoiding the use of potentially dangerous herbicides. Below, we've outlined the benefits, drawbacks, and implementation strategies for two options.
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Option 1: Spraying vinegar on Creeping Charlie has some effect.
Because of its supposed effectiveness against weeds, many gardeners use vinegar in the mistaken belief that it won't hurt their plants. Vinegar is more environmentally preferable than herbicides, but it can kill bees and other vital pollinators. Because of the collateral damage it can cause to other types of grass, you should rethink using it if the Creeping Charlie is interspersed with grass you don't want to get rid of.
Additionally, vinegar may cause browning of leaves and stems, but it is ineffective at killing roots, so it is not as useful in combating invasive species like Creeping Charlie. If you're interested in giving it a shot, here's what you need to know about the multiple applications of vinegar needed to achieve the desired effect:
- A spray bottle containing two cups of white vinegar and one cup of warm water can be used for cleaning.
- The best time to spray is on a sunny, windless day when you can cover all of the foliage and stalks.
- Maintain a close eye on the situation every few days to see if growth has resumed.
- After the grass has begun to grow, spray it again.
Vinegar used in horticulture has a higher acidity level (20% vs. 6-11 percent on average) and marginally more effective Like many herbicides, horticultural vinegar is extremely corrosive to skin and eyes, so it's important to wear protective gear when working with it. If you are looking for horticultural vinegar, you may need to contact your local extension office or a similar service.
Two: Try a citrus oil that's made from organic, natural ingredients.
Since there aren't many do-it-yourself options for weed control, the first thing you should do is select an organic solution. Citric acids or citrus oil (oil is less harmful to bees) are common ingredients in these all-natural remedies. Broadleaf weeds like Creeping Charlie may respond better to iron-containing herbicides. Applying an organic method once more according to the directions will not harm the soil or environment, despite the fact that it only kills the leaves and not the roots.
These weed killers evaporate faster than the widely recommended Borax and have a more pleasant scent than vinegar. Try an all-natural contact killer, like the kind made by Avenger Organics. Start with these simple steps, and always remember to follow the concentrate's package instructions when using it:
- Wear protective clothing if you must work with acetic or citric acid, such as long sleeves, gloves, and goggles.
- For these tough-to-tame weeds, dilute the concentrate with water at the recommended ratio of one part weed killer to three parts water.
- Pour the shaken mixture into a spray bottle or a garden sprayer.
- Spray the leaves directly until they are evenly and uniformly coated.
- When you see that the big weeds are starting to grow back, you should reapply.
The common cleaner Borax should be used with caution.
A laundry soap derived from a naturally occurring chemical (sodium tetraborate) is referred to as "Borax." Although some research suggests it can be used to successfully eradicate Creeping Charlie, the results are inconsistent, and the solution can harm neighboring healthy plants. Boron is stable and won't evaporate like vinegar would.
During those two years, you can only apply the Borax-and-water solution once per year. There's not much wiggle room for error if there are plants in the vicinity of the area you're treating. To top it all off, it is not authorized for weed control, so you may be breaking the law if you use it to get rid of the Creeping Charlie in your lawn.
Herbicide Techniques for Controlling Creeping Charlie
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It would be counterproductive to try to smother Creeping Charlie if it had already invaded your lawn, as doing so would kill your grass. Since it will be entangled with your grass's roots, it will be extremely difficult to remove by hand.
Can't figure out how to get rid of Creeping Charlie? While it's possible that the right herbicide could do the trick, be aware that many common plant poisons are not selective. Read labels carefully and select a broadleaf herbicide containing triclopyr, a chemical that will kill Creeping Charlie from the root up, without harming your turf grass. Many (especially glyphosate) kill whatever they touch, not just weeds.
Herbicides are often recommended as a last resort in your war on weeds because of concerns over their potential impact on human health and the environment. Triclopyr's toxicity to humans and wildlife ranges from low to moderate, depending on the route and duration of exposure. As an illustration, the ester form has been linked to eye irritation. Young children should avoid playing on lawns that have been treated with herbicides, and widespread use of these products can increase the risk of various illnesses, including cancer, in both children and pets.
Herbicides like triclopyr can also seep into the ground and into streams and rivers, where they can contaminate drinking water and harm aquatic life. When shopping for triclopyr-containing herbicides, it is important to consider the product's other active ingredients as well. Products containing "2, 4-D" and other highly toxic chemicals should be avoided.
Similarly to the aforementioned natural methods, dicamba can aid in the management of Creeping Charlie, though it will only serve to suppress the weed. Furthermore, it is one of the most volatile herbicides, changing phase from liquid to vapor at high enough temperatures. Dicamba is a herbicide that, if it escapes its intended target, can cause severe damage to nearby vegetation. If you absolutely must use an herbicide, triclopyr is your best bet.
Put on your work clothes: - gloves - long-sleeved shirt - cargo pants
Herbicide containing triclopyr for broad-leaf plants
For optimal results, apply herbicide either the day before or the day after the first frost (STEP 1).
While Creeping Charlie can be treated with an herbicide at any time during the growing season, the most effective time to do so is in the fall, just before it goes into winter dormancy. For best results, apply the herbicide either before or after the first frost, at which point the plant will store it, along with its winter nutrients, for the coming cold season.
Be sure to spray again before winter if you sprayed in the fall. Weakening Creeping Charlie before the cold season begins is your best bet for eradicating it.
PHASE 2: Put on your safety gear and get your herbicide ready.
Use safety equipment such as goggles, gloves, and clothing. Herbicide should be combined in a garden sprayer per label instructions. Clothing contaminated with herbicide should be thrown away.
Third, target the creeping Charlie with the spray.
Creeping Charlie should be sprayed thoroughly with the herbicide, but nearby garden plants (other than grass) should be avoided. Any leftover spray should be stored or disposed of as per the manufacturer's instructions. Wait at least two days after spraying for the chemicals to seep into the soil and the roots of the plant before cutting the grass.
Fourth, keep up with your lawn care to avoid a resurgence of ground ivy.
Long-term Creeping Charlie control can be achieved through preemptive measures that diminish the plant's chances of re-establishing itself. There is no way for weeds to thrive in a lawn that has been carefully maintained to be thick and healthy turf grass. Creeping Charlie and other invasive weeds can be prevented by keeping your lawn in good condition.
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It's neither fun nor simple to get rid of Creeping Charlie, but it can be done. All of the suggested techniques—hand-pulling, smothering, do-it-yourself and organic controls, and broadleaf herbicides—are more effective on younger plants. Don't procrastinate
Your best bet for preventing Creeping Charlie and keeping it at bay, either before it takes hold or after it has been cleared out of an area, is cultural control, or increasing the ability of other plants to compete with it. The least environmentally damaging method of weed control is to replace it with a more appropriate, less invasive plant that can thrive in the same conditions.
To prevent the weed from taking over, you could, for instance, plant grasses that can survive in the shade. The blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) and the common blue violet (Viola sororia) are two alternate ground cover options. You can also replace the Creeping Charlie with native shade-loving plants, landscape fabric, and mulch.
If chemical intervention is necessary, use only as directed by the manufacturer or local extension specialists. Doing so will ensure the safety of everyone involved, including humans, animals, and vegetation.
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