Creeping Charlie (Glechoma bederacea) is also called creeping jenny, ground ivy, and gill-over-the-ground. To most homeowners and gardeners, it is considered an invasive, hard-to-get-rid-of weed. It can be found growing in lawns, rock gardens and flowerbeds. This plant grows close to the ground and in shady, moist areas.
This perennial herbaceous plant is a member of the mint family and has square stems that spread or creep on the ground. These creeping stems can reach a length of up to 2 feet. The flower stems of the plant stand erect, with flowering occurring from April to June. You can identify the plant by its small geranium-like leaves and its lavender-to-blue flowers. The roots of the plant grow from each leaf node--this root system makes the plant difficult to eradicate. Creeping Charlie spreads through the root system and by seeding itself.
Keeping It Out
This spreading, invasive weed can choke out the grass in your lawn. To avoid having it take over your lawn it is necessary to maintain a healthy, thick turf. To do this, mow to a height of 2 to 3 ½ inches, follow a fertilization program, water when necessary and overseed in the fall. It's best to eliminate any densely shaded areas in your lawn, as creeping Charlie thrives in shady, moist areas. The crowns of trees should be thinned out so that filtered sunlight will reach your lawn; low areas should be filled in with dirt to eliminate poor drainage.
Getting Rid of It
If you spot creeping Charlie in your lawn, it's best to dig it out before it spreads. (You may also see it growing in rock gardens and flowerbeds. Herbicides cannot be used in these areas, as they'll kill the other plants.) The weed should be destroyed, not placed in your compost bin. If it has taken over your lawn, you will need to apply a postemergence, broadleaf herbicide. In extreme cases it may be more advantageous to dig up the entire lawn and reseed or sod.
Herbicides To Use
You can use Trimec or Three Way Lawn Weed Killer; they contain salt of dicamba (3,6-dichloro-o-anisic acid) or triclopyr. The best time to apply a broadleaf herbicide is in mid to late autumn when temperatures are in the 60s or 70s (degrees F), and when rain isn't forecasted for 24 to 48 hours. It can also be applied in the springtime, when creeping charlie is in bloom.
Tips on Applying Herbicide
Chemical applications should not be done on a windy day, as the herbicide can drift into flowerbeds or shrubs, destroying the plants. It is not advisable to mow your lawn after applying the weed killer. It is advisable to thoroughly wash your hands and any protective gear used during application.