How to kill creeping jenny?

Creeping Jenny Control: What Is The Best Way To Manage Creeping Jenny

Creeping jenny, also called moneywort, is a long, crawling plant that can spread very tenaciously. It is often mistaken for creeping charlie. Only reaching about 2 inches (5 cm.) in height, this plant can grow to 2 feet (.61 cm.) long and has an unusually extensive root system.

Once it’s established, it can be hard to get rid of and will crowd out or strangle plants that get in its path. Because of this, unless you specifically want it as groundcover in a spot where nothing else grows, you should work on controlling creeping jenny as soon as you spot it. Keep reading to learn more about how to get rid of creeping jenny in the garden.

Best Way to Manage Creeping Jenny

Creeping jenny control is not always easy, and it’s not always quick. If the plant is established in your yard, it may take two growing seasons to eradicate it. The best method of creeping jenny control is a combination of physically removing the plant and applying herbicides.

Dig up every new plant you find and spray an herbicide. New plants will emerge every few weeks – so keep pulling them up and spraying. Creeping jenny’s roots are very extensive and deep, so it will keep sprouting for quite some time. If you can, dig up plants before they flower, as failing to do so will result in lots of seeds and even more vigorous spread.

Another method of controlling creeping jenny is starving it of light. After digging up all visible plants, lay down a thick layer of mulch or black plastic. With any luck, this will keep the roots from putting up new shoots and eventually kill them.

You might be able to achieve the same effect by filling the area with hardy plants well suited to the climate, like native grasses. These should put up more of a fight against the creeping jenny and help to block it from receiving light.

Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

How Do I Get Rid of Ground Ivy or Creeping Charlie in My Yard?

When it comes to the peskiest, persistent and downright unwanted garden weed, Creeping Charlie might just take the cake.

With its fuzzy, scalloped leaves and delicate lavender flowers, Creeping Charlie looks rather innocent at first glance. But it’s one of the most hard-to-manage weeds, 1) because it’s perennial, so it crops back up every year if it’s not controlled; and 2) because it establishes multiple sets of roots. Even if you pull up and dig out the weed in one spot, there are a whole bunch more roots helping to keep the weed alive and spread even further.

Still, with the right tools and timing, you can get rid of this relentless weed and stop it from coming back

How to remove ground ivy or Creeping Charlie

Quick treatment methods followed by long-term lawn and garden care both help prevent Creeping Charlie.

Glechoma hederacea: what is it good for?

When it’s not disrupting our lush lawns, Glechoma hederacea, also known as Creeping Charlie or ground ivy, is actually a helpful plant. For centuries, its leaves have been used as a flavorful addition to drinks and even as a remedy to the common cold. Plus, some homeowners like the look of ground ivy hanging in baskets near their home, and bees flock to the flowers in ground ivy for nectar.

Benefits aside, most homeowners agree that ground ivy is no good for lawns and gardens. With weeds lingering, your grass never quite looks its best. Even worse, the weed can wrap around and essentially “strangle” nearby plants if it has creeped into your garden.

Avoid these outcomes by removing and controlling Creeping Charlie as soon as you spot it.

Chemical and natural Creeping Charlie removal methods

The quickest way to say goodbye to Creeping Charlie is with a herbicide, but you should not go this route if the weed is growing near plants, fruits or vegetables, or if there’s a chance you can just remove it naturally. Try pulling the weed by hand, making sure to remove every last set of roots. Leave any roots behind, and the pesky plant will come right back next season. A quick tip: water, before you begin so the weed, is easier to pull up.

If ground ivy is spread far and wide in your yard, and using a herbicide is a must, opt for a product that has ground ivy on the label. Carefully follow the product instructions, and apply the herbicide in fall when the weed is in its peak growth stage. Through winter, the weed will become weak and die off.

How to prevent ground ivy or Creeping Charlie

This weed thrives in a shady, moist environment, and it’s not shy about crowding out areas of your lawn that are weak or bare. The best way to prevent the weed is to eliminate the cozy, familiar elements that help it grow. Here’s how:

  • Selectively prune trees to bring in sunlight and cut down on shady areas of grass. Always call in a professional arborist for a large pruning job.
  • Water your lawn less frequently so the soil doesn’t stay too moist in shaded spots.
  • Overseed bare patches in your lawn to discourage ground ivy growth.
  • Take proper care of your lawn so it’s not vulnerable to invasive weeds. Lawn aeration, mowing, and fertilization are a few essentials.

How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie & Creeping Jenny

Glechoma hederacea, or Creeping Charlie, is a round-leaved, aromatic perennial herb with little blue flowers. It is a member of the mint family that also is known as Creeping Jenny. Lysimachia nummulari, or Moneywort, is a perennial weed with little yellow flowers. A member of the primrose family, it is also called Creeping Jenny. Creeping Jenny is also a common name for Solanales convolvulaceae, known as bindweed or morning glory. Most lawn owners would opt to get rid of all three of these invasive creeping weeds, whatever their names.

Starve ground ivy, moneywort and morning glories by keeping your lawn healthy. Creeping weeds grow wild when lawn turf is stressed. Grow the right varieties of grass for your region and sun exposure. Mow often, removing only one-third of the blade at a time.

Pull weeds as soon as you spot them. Ground ivy has scalloped leaves and blue flowers, moneywort has shiny round evergreen leaves with yellow flowers, and morning glory has small arrowhead-shaped leaves and white trumpet-shaped flowers like domesticated morning glories. Follow stolons back to their source and dig out the mother plant with a dandelion digger. Destroy plants. Do not add them to your compost heap.

Apply a broadleaf herbicide that contains glyphosate or 2,4-D. Both have been shown to be effective. Dicamba is effective against ground ivy and field bindweed. Apply the herbicide when the weeds are actively growing and blooming in spring when the temperature is above 60 and below 80 degrees F. Apply herbicides when dry weather is expected for at least 24 hours after application.

Make another application of broadleaf control the following spring if creeping weeds return. During each growing season, dig and pull any reappearing plants to keep them from setting seed. These hardy plants are stubbornly invasive. If there are any in the neighborhood, they’ll come back eventually.

Exercise the “nuclear option” when ground ivy, moneywort or morning glory takes over; tilling soil may eradicate the creepers if you comb through the soil and remove any healthy stolons. This approach would be a good way to control weeds in annual flower beds before planting but re-seeding a lawn may not be practical.

How to Get Rid of Creeping Charlie

This aggressive weed likes moist, shaded areas, but it also grows in sun and will spread into turf and planting beds. Also called ground ivy, the plant is actually in the mint family, which is known for its tendency to spread. It can quickly form a dense mat, which smothers other vegetation.

Creeping Charlie has round or kidney-shape leaves with scalloped edges. The leaves grow opposite each other and are bright green and shiny. The plant puts out vining stems or runners that can root at each node, which is where the leaves attach to the stem. When you pull this shallow-root weed, you likely will notice a couple of things: The roots along the stems make it seem as if they are clinging to the ground for dear life. The plant emits a mint odor when cut or crushed. Its stems are square, and in the spring it has small, funnel-shape or tubular purple flowers.

Check our Weed Identification Guide to determine exactly what might be in your landscape.

How to Treat Creeping Charlie

If you’ve spotted Creeping Charlie early, repeated hand-weeding is an option. If the weed has spread, it can be difficult to control. Consider a broadleaf triple-mix herbicide containing these key ingredients: 2, 4-D, Mecoprop (MCPP) and Dicamba. Standard postemergent herbicides without these components won’t work as well.

Fall is the best time to apply herbicide to control broadleaf weeds such as this one, when the plant is in flower in springtime is also a good time. You might need to make a couple of applications, depending on your infestation. If so, spray about two weeks apart. Avoid getting the herbicide on other plants. Always read and follow label directions whenever you use herbicides.

If you go the route of hand-pulling, this is not green matter to add to the compost pile, unless you want a greater challenge next year. Research on the effectiveness of boron, found in borax products in the laundry aisle of the grocery store, is inconclusive.

How to Keep Creeping Charlie from Creeping Back

The presence of Creeping Charlie signals that the growing conditions for your lawn may need to be addressed. Too much shade, wet soils or poor fertility could be issues. A healthy stand of turf makes it harder for Creeping Charlie to crash your yard.

Any open areas in your landscape, such as planting beds, can be areas that Creeping Charlie love. Keep the areas well-mulched to reduce problems with this and other weeds.

  • By Leah Chester-Davis

Creeping Charlie in bloom

Treating aggressive perennial weeds requires proper timing, an effective product and cultural
practices to help deter re-establishment. Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is consistently a problem weed though some homeowners have come to tolerate it because it attracts and provides food for pollinators (one of its few redeeming qualities).
Note: We are bringing back this highly popular blog post from 2016 since we get so many questions about Creeping Charlie at this time of year!

What makes Creeping Charlie so invasive!

Creeping charlie in bloom

Also called ground ivy, creeping charlie is part of the Mint family. Like all mints, it spreads on top of the soil via stolons (surface roots) and will regrow from very small pieces of vegetation left behind in the soil after removal.
It is a very adaptable plant and grows well in moist soil in part shade / full shade sites. Creeping charlie can be found where lawn grass is thin and not very robust. This may be in compacted soils, shady locations, and weedy sites.
Therefore, treating with an appropriate product, maintaining a healthy lawn, utilizing shade tolerant grasses, and choosing alternative ground covers in areas not suitable for growing lawn grasses will help manage weeds including creeping charlie.

How to discourage it from growing in the first place!

Best cultural practices are recommended to encourage healthy growth and vigor of lawn grasses. Proper selection of grass varieties for the site, fertilization and watering practices that encourage deeply rooted plants are important to a healthy lawn that can out-compete weeds.
Most lawns are comprised Kentucky bluegrass and perennial ryegrass and require full sun, proper nutrition, and non-compacted soils for optimal growth. A soil test can provide recommendations for soil health and fertilizer.

As shade increases, it becomes less and less favorable for sustaining a lawn in this area, and more favorable for weeds like creeping Charlie. Pruning to increase sunlight and aeration may be options for improving growing conditions; however, if the area is too shady, give up on trying to grow grass in this area and consider planting other ground covers or a shade garden of perennial flowers.

Herbicide control tips

Creeping charlie and dandelions are
both perennials weeds in turf

Timing of herbicide treatment is key to successful control of perennial weeds like creeping charlie.
As always, read and follow all instructions and guidelines on the label of any product, synthetic or organic, including proper clean up and storage. Note that herbicides are only effective in managing weeds if applied properly. The herbicide label is the law and misuse constitutes illegal application.
Autumn is the best time of year for systemic herbicide applications when creeping charlie is actively taking up nutrients from the soil to sustain the plant through the winter. Spring is a second option when the plant is actively growing.
Some considerations for choosing an herbicide:

  • If you have a large area of creeping charlie or if your lawn is more than 50% creeping charlie, you may want to consider killing off the entire area with glyphosate (the active ingredient in the non-selective herbicide Round-Up®) and re-seeding. Note this product kills all plants including lawn grasses. Depending on the product formula, re-seeding can occur within a few days after application. People and pets may re-enter the area when dry.
  • If you want to treat small areas where creeping charlie is growing in lawn grasses, you can use a a selective herbicide like 2,4-D, Dicamba or triclopyr, or combinations of these products. Triclopyr will be the most effective option for creeping Charlie. These are systemic, selective broadleaf herbicides. They are taken up by the plant and kill the entire plant from roots to flowers. Note they do not kill lawn grasses if applied properly. These products are effective and usually require only 2-3 applications per year depending on proper use and timing.
  • Chelated iron burns creeping charlie foliage and its stolons. A maximum of four applications may be applied annually. Lawn grasses may show some burning on the blades, but will recover. They also will turn a deep green due to the absorption of iron. Because of this, chelated iron should not be used for spot treatments as it will result in deep green spots throughout the lawn. Treated areas may be re-seeded the next day, and people and pets may re-enter the area when dry. Note that chelated iron can be expensive, and may stain equipment, sidewalks, driveways, etc. Here is a publication from the University of Maryland with more information

The facts about Borax

In the past, borax (boron) was a product recommended for eradicating creeping charlie. However, research has shown that the addition of boron to soil, even in very small amounts, can create an unfavorable growing environment, and make it difficult to re-establish lawn grass. Also, this is an illegal application. Any product used in this fashion must be specifically labeled for the weed you are trying to control. Therefore, borax it is no longer recommended for eradication of creeping charlie.
Going forward, regular and well-timed cultural lawn care practices will help keep weeds like creeping charlie managed and turfgrass healthy.
The Upper Midwest Lawn Care calendar is a good tool for helping time applications of fertilizer and pre and post-emergent herbicides and when to perform tasks like aeration to reduce compaction.
For more on healthy lawns:
Round-Up® is a trademark of Monsanto Corporation.
Authors: Julie Weisenhorn and Sam Bauer, Extension educators

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