How to Control Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie is a perennial, creeping weed that thrives in moist, shady area areas and in areas of stressed turf due to poor nutrients, compaction or thin grass. Also known as Ground Ivy, it has scalloped shaped leaves and small purple flowers.  Because it is a perennial weed (comes back every year) and its ‘creeping’ nature, it is hard to pull so controlling it may take some time. The key to battling Creeping Charlie, and other lawn weeds, is to maintain a strong, healthy lawn. Weeds don’t chase the grass out, they merely grow where the grass won’t.

Tips to Controlling Creeping Charlie:

Aerate Compacted Soil

Think about where the obvious weeds accumulate in your lawn; along pathways, where you put your garbage and recycling out, areas with poor drainage or where snow is piled in the winter. These all cause the soil to get compacted, which grasses hate and weeds love!  Aerating your lawn will help reduce this compaction, giving the grass a fighting chance to against Creeping Charlie.  If you don’t have access to a large aerating machine, or you have a really big lawn, focus aerating on the areas such as those listed above, and where you are seeing a higher concentration of weeds.

Feed Your Soil

Weeds such as Creeping Charlie are well adapted to growing in soil with poor nutrients, again, grass isn’t, so by feeding your lawn with good lawn soil, you give the grass a better chance at out competing the Creeping Charlie.

Let the Sun Shine In

Creeping Charlie grows well in shady areas, and grass…not so much.  If you have Creeping Charlie in a shady area, you can do some careful pruning of trees to allow a bit more sun in or use shade loving grass seed for over seeding. If it a really shady area, then grass may not grow at all, so you would better off to consider an alternative like building a garden and filling it with easy shade loving plants.

More Tips For Controlling Creeping Charlie:

  1. Mow your grass higher, 3.5 - 4 inches to help the grass shade out the Creeping Charlie. This also help the grass stay greener, longer in a drought and helps the grass compete with other weeds too.
  2. Use a handheld thatch rake in late summer/early fall to pull the weed from your lawn. If you don’t have a thatch rake, you can pull by hand, but it will take a bit longer.
  3. After thatching, topdress and overseed the area with a good quality and fast germinating grass seed mix. Keep the seed moist, but not soaked, until it germinates.
  4. Continue to practice good lawn care practices to keep your grass healthy and strong so it has a better chance to compete with Creeping Charlie and other weeds.