The vine-type weeds in a lawn can be very difficult to control. Here we are talking about weeds such as ground ivy, sometimes called "Creeping Charlie".
Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is also called Ground Ivy or Creeping Jenny. It is a nasty low-growing, perennial vine-like pest that can raise havoc in the lawn or in the garden. It has leaves that are usually rounded, sometimes smooth and sometimes hairy. The leaves will be ½ to 1 inch across. The best way to confirm whether you have Creeping Charlie is to pick a few leaves and crush them in your fingers. If it smells like mint, you have Creeping Charlie.
It will grow in the shade or in the sun and it is very invasive wherever it turns up. The problem is that it has a good set of defenses against us Yardeners. If you try to pull it up and leave just a few bits of root, it is back again in short order. If you wait to use an herbicide on it until after it has flowered, it will have covered its leaves with a waxy coating that will make the herbicide almost ineffective.
Control Of Creeping Charlie In Lawns Takes Timing
Natural Controls - Creeping Charlie in a lawn does not easily lend itself to natural control methods. You can’t pull it without leaving enough root material to have it return. There are no natural herbicides that are effective against this tough weed. If you really want to stay on the natural side of things, here is what you might do.
Tall thick grass seldom has problems with Creeping Charlie. The only way to get the lawn to be thick or dense is to overseed. If the Creeping Charlie does not cover thousands of square feet, then you go ahead and hand pull as much of the stuff as you can. Then immediately follow the steps for overseeding presented in Yardener’s Helper. You want to get grass seed in those empty spaces left from the pulled Creeping Charlie. You may still get some Creeping Charlie but it should not be so bad. Try to keep it pulled and then next Fall or next Spring you want to pull all that you see and overseed again. Mow the grass at 2 ½ inches or even 3 inches. Tall thick grass is very resistant to Creeping Charlie, or any other weed for that matter.
Synthetic Controls - There are a number of herbicides that will kill Creeping Charlie. The best is RoundUp or KleenUp which are glyphosate-based. The down side is that these products will kill all plants they touche, so you will be killing the grass along with the Creeping Charlie. If the Creeping Charlie invasion is very bad, that is the best approach. Kill everything and overseed in two weeks.
Herbicides contain Trimec are able to kill the Creeping Charlie and not harm the grass. The key is the timing. Creeping Charlie produces its blossoms in April, May, and into June. After that time, it covers its leaves with a waxy coating that makes the herbicide less effective. So use an herbicide for lawns during April or May to get the best results. If you missed the window of opportunity, you can get fairly good results with two applications of herbicide in the fall about two weeks apart.
Control Of Creeping Charlie In Gardens
The best way to control Creeping Charlie in a flower bed or vegetable garden is to pull up as much of it as you can see and then cover the area with 3 to 4 inches of organic mulch such as chopped leaves or shredded bark. It will try to come back, but with no light, it will give up.