If you’re a lawn-perfectionist like me, chances are, you and weeds never get along AT-ALL. I’ve taken down many a weed in my time, and somehow a new variant manages to resurface. I remember waking up to one fine summer morning, only to realize a batch of Creeping Charlie has crept into my property.
I’m not against the forever-classic hand-pulling method. In fact, that’s the method I resorted to initially. However, the aggressive nature of Creeping Charlie took me by surprise. My hands couldn’t handle the growth explosion. So, I decided to bring out the big guns, aka chemical weed killers.
You may have qualms about weed killers because of the toxicity, but when you’re up against a tank, you can’t do jack with a revolver. If you’re wondering what happened, let me tell you- yes, the weed killers got the job done. Not all of them, though. Some had me buying anxiety pills.
So, I’ll be talking about a selection of 5 herbicides that worked for me. Each of them earned the right to be called the best weed killer for Creeping Charlie. Still, they’re not wish-granting phenomena. If you’re up for an objective analysis of the best-and-worst of these weed killers, then strap on.
- Top-Rated Weed Killers for Creeping Charlie That I Recommend
- Ortho Weed B Gon
- ITS Supply T-Zone Turf Herbicide
- Bonide (BND309) – Weed Beater Ultra
- PBI/GORDON Trimec Lawn Weed Killer
- Bonide (BND0613) – Ready to Use
- How I Found These Herbicides?
- How to Go About Weeding out Creeping Charlie
- Manual Method
- Using Chemical Weed Killers
- Parting Words of Mine
What is Creeping Charlie?
The simplest and straight-to-the-face answer to this question is – Creeping Charlie, aka Ground Ivy is a weed, period. However, the simple answer doesn’t really quench the thirst of an intellectual, does it? There’s much more to a weed than the designation only.
For starters, the Creeping Charlie has a history. Not the I-destroy-your-lawn history, but a benevolent and helpful one. This weed isn’t endemic to the US, and it comes from the distant lands of Europe.
The early settlers, or our great forefathers, brought the Creeping Charlie with a purpose. The aim was to have a plant that survives in areas other plants wouldn’t dare enter (e.g., excessive shade).
So, they thought Creeping Charlie would be the perfect ground cover. The realization came soon after. The plant was so good at its job that after covering the shady territories, it began to expand its empire. Scientists later categorized it as a weed after studying the aggressive nature.
Now, the Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea for taxonomy-lovers) has become a pain-to-put-down weed. I admire the intentions the early settlers had. It just backfired, unfortunately. Also, this weed isn’t ugly, although the name can give out a false image.
The issue with having Creeping Charlie is its unyielding nature. While most weeds would surrender after a good round of beating, the Charlie is a survivor. I’ve told you earlier that the classic pull-out-by-hand didn’t work for me. I thought it was my fault, but it wasn’t. This weed has the miraculous power to grow out if a single, tiny particle is left in the soil.
So, it’s not your everyday weed we’re dealing with here. Creeping Charlie is an elite-weed, and if you slack off in the slightest, you won’t know what hit you. I’m not trying to be intimidating. I’m just sharing the experience I had. Honestly, I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did.
A lot of people don’t entertain the thought of using chemical weed killers. However, when Creeping Charlie is in the fray, not resorting to herbicides is like going with a knife in a gunfight. I’ve put the warning out, acting on it or straight up declining, is up to you.
Top-Rated Weed Killers for Creeping Charlie That I Recommend
It’s time to lay down the herbicides that rescued me from the Creeping Charlie catastrophe. I have used my fair share of weed killers. While most were hit-and-miss, the 5 herbicides I’m about to mention didn’t let me down. However, the handpicked 5 weed killers aren’t free from flaws. So, let me show you the good, bad, and ugly of the products that worked for me.
Once I began searching for a permanent solution to the Creeping Charlie issue, my first stop was the Ortho Weed B Gon. I loved the name, as it has a Potter-esque vibe to it. However, I wasn’t getting my hopes up because I didn’t think I would hit something useful in my first attempt. To my pleasure, the Ortho Weed B Gon proved me wrong.
I had done my homework regarding Creeping Charlie, and I kept my eyes peeled for a few ingredients. The leaders of an assault against Creeping Charlie would be either Mecoprop, Dicamba, or Triclopyr. The Ortho Weed B Gon has a heavy concentration of Triclopyr. So, I knew I was in the right direction.
There are three options available for purchase. I prefer the one with a built-in sprayer because it covers more ground. However, anyone can feel free to choose because there’s no superior alternative among the three. I loved having multiple options. It allowed me to select a type according to my needs.
Also, this herbicide is selective. If you’re not familiar with the selective/non-selective paradigm, let me break it down. A selective weed killer will target a specific group of plants or vegetation while leaving the rest. In contrast, a non-selective herbicide has no such restrictions and will kill anything it touches.
So, I didn’t have to worry about my plants getting butchered. Still, any chemical weed killer is harmful to existing vegetation. That’s why, if you’re applying it over your lawn, it’s better not to overdose. Always be on your toes even when the herbicide is apparently safe to use.
The weed killer takes around 6 hours to start working. Technically, it should be safe in case of an unexpected rainfall after the 6-hour period. I never gambled with the technicalities, though. I always gave the herbicide more than 24 hours to immerse itself. So, I’d recommend you do the same.
With the “concentrate-sprayer” version of the weed killer, I was able to treat around 3200 sq. ft. However, there’s a “ready to use” edition that covers double the ground.
I’d say the latter is more economical in a general sense, but the attached sprayer I got with the former came in handy for other circumstances.
Adding 1 fl. oz. of concentrate per gallon is the standard procedure. I am a natural tinkerer, though. So, I went out of my way, and against the manufacturer’s warnings to spike the concentrate as I saw fit. If you’re not experienced or into experimentation, I’d suggest it’s you refrain from any tinkering.
In my opinion, the Ortho Weed B Gon makes the weed go away for good. But it takes time to do so. Sometimes I even needed multiple treatments. If you’re not thin on patience, I think this herbicide could be worth a shot.
I wanted… Nay, I needed to up my Charlie cleaning game. While the Ortho Weed B Gon worked pretty well, I wanted a quicker solution. I had this turf swarmed with Creeping Charlie, and decided to switch to a more high-end herbicide. And when it comes to premium-solution, I think the ITS Supply’s T-Zone Turf takes the cake.
As one expects from a Charlie-cleaning herbicide, the T-Zone also has the coveted Triclopyr. If you remember from the previous discussion, Triclopyr is the bane for hard-to-kill weeds. Even before applying it, I knew the results would be off the charts.
The Triclopyr concentration is heavier in this herbicide. An intensified dose of Triclopyr has both a positive and a negative side. Evidently, a heavier concentration equates to a quicker and more efficient weed killing. However, it also means the turfgrass or other harmless plants were on the line of fire.
So, I had to walk on eggshells with the T-Zone Turf. The results were amazing, though. Despite my instinctive habit of experimenting, I decided to act against my nature and followed the instruction to the last dot.
I had two dosage options to choose from- either 1.2 oz. or 1.5 oz. I stuck to the former because I wanted to test the strength of this herbicide. A cautionary note: don’t just pour 1 gallon of water directly into the sprayer and add the concentrate later.
The process is divided into three steps. Add 1/2 gallon of water, pour concentrate, then add the rest of the water, and voila!
After applying the solution, the Creeping Charlies died out in a span of 5-7 days. However, my turf grass wasn’t affected at all. The weeds were knocked out for good, but the grass seemed healthy. Yes, there were a few patches of discolored grass, but it wasn’t a dealbreaker.
I proud myself for being an experienced lawn-owner who is also an expert on weed killing. But would you believe if I tell you I practiced spraying with only water just to get the technique down?
Even with the experience, I didn’t want to gamble. The Triclopyr concentrate is twice the standard amount. So, if you slip, you run the risk of losing all vegetation in the treated area.
Also, the T-Zone wasn’t light on my wallet. It’s costly but effective. I would even go out on a limb and say that this herbicide deserves the title of being the best weed killer for Creeping Charlie. I never saw the Charlie-bunch run for the hills so fast.
The Creeping Charlie situation in my lawn was well under control. However, some weeds began to resurface thanks to my neighbor’s never being there to tend to the lawn. The ground ivy came from an adjacent property I had no control over. I would’ve reverted back to the T-Zone, but I was under monetary restrictions this time. So, the Bonide Weed Beater Ultra came to my rescue.
This herbicide doesn’t have the elite-ingredient Triclopyr- the stubborn weed destroyer. So, I wasn’t sure whether it would be as good as the previous weed killer I’ve bought. However, the presence of Mecoprop and Dicamba gave me hope because they also fare well against Creeping Charlie.
It had three different versions- 16, 32, and 128- oz. I went with the 16 oz. bottle because the infestation this time around wasn’t severe. Also, there’s both “concentrate” and “Ready-to-Spray” version. I got the former as the whole point was to cut costs, and the “ready-to-spray” would cost me $5 more.
The ground ivy was smothering my tall fescue turf. I read through the instructions, and it said anywhere between 1.5-2.4 fl. oz. would do the trick. Experimentation is second nature to me, I love an instruction that gives me liberty. However, a beginner won’t be so welcoming towards it.
I understand why the manufacturers gave a range instead of specific parameters. The lawn-owner is supposed to understand the magnitude of the problem and prepare the concentrate accordingly. Although I empathize with the manufacturer’s views, it’s not a beginner-friendly practice.
As I said earlier, on my lawn, the Creeping Charlie invasion wasn’t too big this time. So, I added the bare minimum of 1.5 fl. oz. to a gallon of water. The mixture was potent enough to knock all the weeds down. Still, some weeds hung back, and I realized the herbicide needs a boost.
I got the results treating the infected area two times. It only happened because the infestation was not severe. So, if you’re dealing with a massive battalion of ground ivy, I’d recommend using a surfactant. The surfactant acts as an adhesive and strengthens the contact between herbicide and weed-foliage. It will especially come in handy if you’re in a windy location.
I didn’t get to see the Bonide Weed beater shine in its full glory because I needed to treat a small area. However, if my observations and years of experience serve me right, I’d say it’s an okay weed killer. Why? I think against larger numbers, the Bonide would crumble. The reason- absence of Triclopyr.
I had standing ground ivy after using the first three herbicides on the list. So, I intentionally held back on using weed killers because my experiment wasn’t over.
After a few months of no-action, I saw some Creeping Charlies crawling its way back through my fences. I’ve heard the name of PBI/GORDON Trimec around the block and decided to give it a whirl.
As with every weed killer on this list, the first thing I focus on is the ingredients. Similar to the Bonide, the Trimec had Mecoprop and Dicamba. While I have no beef against these two chemicals, I think the concentration isn’t up to the mark here.
I declared Bonide to be not-strong-enough even after it had double the Mecoprop and Dicamba concentration. I’m not saying the Trimec is trash. What I’m trying to say is- it’s a lengthy solution that requires multiple applications over the year for weed control.
It’s not all bad. There’s a positive to having a lower concentration of chemicals. Most lawn-owners overdo when it comes to weed killing, and they end up hurting the existing plants. It’s a frustrating mistake, but one that happens regularly. Getting a low-concentrate herbicide will save you from such blunders.
I used the Trimec to cure the tall fescue grass of a ground ivy disease. The mixture differs for spot-treatment and hose-style spraying. I mixed 2 tablespoons of herbicide with 1 gallon of water for spot-treatment. The mixture took care of nearly 260 sq. ft.
That may seem a bit disappointing in terms of concentrate-to-coverage value. However, if you’re using it with a hose-end spray, you could cover nearly 1000 sq. ft. with a similar mixture. Remember, spot-treatment is only for areas with severe weed infestation. I’m talking about layers upon layers here.
Try to apply it during a sunny day, and steer clear of the treated area. The manufacturer doesn’t disclose the amount of time it takes to soak in before water drags it away. So, I’d suggest putting your shoe on the safe side by giving it at least 24 hours to dry out.
I added some surfactant to the mixture because it boosts the performance noticeably. You don’t “have to” but if you want to take down a sea of weeds, you should. The price-point is deceptive because there’s no smaller edition of Trimec. I only found the 1-gallon version. So, the overall value is there.
It gets the job done if that’s what you’re thinking. However, you need to be on a roll and keep attacking weeds with this 1-gallon weed killer. Once I had this, I knew I was in for the long haul.
Most herbicides I’ve tangoed with were concentrates. I had to stir it up to get the solution up and running. So, I thought walking in the opposite direction for once- a ready-to-use-herbicide path would be a fresh change of pace. I looked up a few RTS (ready-to-spray) weed killers, and came across the Bonide BND0613.
I’ve already put the Bonide Weed Beater Ultra on this list. So, this is the second herbicide I was trying out from the same manufacturer. My reservations were pretty clear about the Weed Beater- it had no Triclopyr. However, I guess Bonide decided to switch things up with their Ready-to-Use version.
For starters, it had all the three chemicals hated by Creeping Charlie. Let me refresh your memory. The mortal enemies of Creeping Charlie are Mecoprop, Dicamba, or Triclopyr. Triclopyr has the ability to wipe out a colony of Charlies. However, imagine the potential when the three band together.
So, I was pretty confident going in with the Bonide this time. Also, I played the alchemist for so long with a bunch of concentrates that it was a relief to be free from any mixing and number crunching. This herbicide was packed with the necessary dosage. All that was left for me to do- is attach the built-in nozzle and spray.
The whole shebang is as straight as they come. Attaching the nozzle is a cakewalk, and I just sprayed it on the infested area, nothing more to it. The results were slow, nearly a month to be precise, but it was there. I got rid of all the Creeping Charlie I had left.
I found the rainproof properties of this weed killer to be stellar as well. I never had accidental rain pouring all over the treated area. Still, it’s good to know that Bonide needs only 2-3 hours to get ready if a downpour does occur after taking all the precautionary measures.
It’s not all sunshine here, though. The nozzle can drive you nuts. I was fortunate to avoid the nozzle-block issues, but the Bonide complaint box is full of customer rants. My advice is to not rough-handle the package. Take special care of it, and be very gentle when using the nozzle.
Overall, the Bonide Ready-to-Use has all the ingredients and more to put down Creeping Charlie. It has the three-key ingredients Creeping Charlies can’t stand. However, I prefer doing spot-treatment with it over large-scale spraying. Putting all the features and price together, I’d say this herbicide is a worthy contender for being the best weed killer for Creeping Charlie.
How I Found These Herbicides?
Hitting the herbicide-bullseye is tricky if you don’t have a game plan. The difficult bar is even higher when you’re up against a stubborn weed. Make any mistake, and you’re straight back to square one. So, I’m going to outline a few considerations, and keeping them in mind will help you be in the driver’s seat.
The Big Three Ingredients
Chemical weed killers consist of a multitude of ingredients. There are so many names. It’s hard to keep track. For instance, glyphosate is a common yet powerful chemical present in many herbicides. However, your target is Creeping Charlie. So, you need ingredients that will directly assault the target weed.
I’ve mentioned the three names earlier, and this section works as a gentle reminder. You’ll be on the lookout for Mecoprop, Dicamba, or Triclopyr. It doesn’t mean the presence of all three ingredients is necessary. One can easily knock down ground ivy with only Triclopyr.
So, keep your eyes on the prize. Any other chemicals may or may not work. Having any ingredient of the three mentioned is the safest bet. If this is still above your paygrade, here is a simple equation:
Have only Triclopyr
Have both Mecoprop and Dicamba
Have all three
Understand Your Lawn
Remember, Creeping Charlie doesn’t grow in isolation. It’s not like one morning you’ll find a bunch of them in an open patch. The preferred hunting grounds for Creeping Charlie is turfgrass. So, if you don’t want to kill your lawn along with ground ivy, you need to identify the grasses you have.
It could be tall fescue, perennial ryegrass, Kentucky bluegrass- each weed killer offers a certain degree of control. You should doublecheck whether the herbicide you’re using affects the turfgrass. Reading through a review, or even the product label will help you with this.
When all the bases are covered, you’re good to go.
Attachments or No Attachments
You can swing both ways here. Having or not having an accessory has no bearing on a weed killer’s performance whatsoever. However, if you’re a beginner, you would fare better in the wilds with a built-in sprayer or ready-to-use solution.
Without a spreader, the herbicide distribution is going to be disproportionate. You can always get a spreader separately, though. However, you have to calculate and keep the water-to-concentrate ration intact for optimal results.
Still, my suggestion for beginners would be to get a ready-to-use version with a built-in sprayer because that would take out the headache of mixing and number crunching.
One-hit KO vs. Multiple Applications
The potency of a weed killer relies on the intensity and concentration of chemicals. The underlying principle here is- the higher, the better. For instance, compared to other standard herbicides, the T-Zone Turf has double the Triclopyr.
A powerful herbicide would take weeds out in one go. In contrast, a relatively weaker version would require multiple treatments. However, the equation isn’t so simple.
While having a heavier concentration of chemicals gives it an edge, it is toxic as well. So, beginners should be on their toes when dealing with chemical-heavy weed killers. It may take the unpleasant weed down in one shot, but one must be cautious of the aftermath too.
So, I’d recommend a low-chemical herbicide if you have any doubts about your spreading and mixing skills.
If the Infestation is Mean – Be Kind with the Green
Be ready to loosen up if the Creeping Charlie infestation is all over the place. I know it sounds depressing, but irregular lawn maintenance can come as a big blow to your wallet. Also, ground ivy or Creeping Charlie isn’t your average joe of the weed world. In fact, they’re some of the hardest, most enduring weeds.
So, if you’ve ignored your day-to-day lawn duty, but want to bring back the magic, keep some bucks handy. High-end weed killers like the T-Zone Turf can help you with heavy infestation. However, even a premium herbicide would need either a surfactant backup or multiple assault opportunities to get the job done.
There’s another option, though. You can always get an economic 1-gallon herbicide and go for the long 1-year haul. The PBI/GORDON Trimec is a rather budget-friendly weed killer, but it takes time to act. So, if you’re unwilling to spend the dollar, get on board with spending a lot of time.
How to Go About Weeding out Creeping Charlie
With everything else out of the way, it’s time I give you some pointers on how to kill Creeping Charlie. As I’ve said on multiple occasions, Creeping Charlie is not like your regular weed. They’re stubborn to the core, and without effective techniques at your disposal, you’ll be circling with zero results. So, let me show you a few effective methods you can use.
There are two manual methods to employ when dealing with Creeping Charlie. The classic hand-removal and sunlight-starvation.
- Get your protective gear for yourself and start working at the roots first up.
- Use a small shovel or cultivator to loosen the deep roots. This will take some time.
- If the root still doesn’t budge, try softening it by pouring water. The quantity depends on the infestation level.
- Make sure you pull the entire root system out, not just the exterior vines. Go through the process again if you’re not sure.
- Have a disposal bag at hand to collect the uprooted weeds and throw them in the bin nearby.
- Don’t leave a single particle behind, or you’ll be back to square one.
- Take a cardboard or newspaper.
- Put it over the patch of Creeping Charlie. The idea here is to block the sunlight completely.
- Use rocks to keep the cardboard/newspaper stable. Putting them on the ends will prevent them from flying away due to light or heavy breeze.
- Wait for the weed to weaken; there’s no standard timeframe here – it can take a week or a month, depending on the soil.
- After you notice the ground ivy changing colors, strike the final blow by following the steps I mentioned when discussing how you should weed these out by hand.
Using Chemical Weed Killers
The manual methods are messy, and it’s not foolproof. The best course of action is to use herbicides to get rid of Creeping Charlie once and for all. That’s what I suggest people to follow as well. Let’s go through the steps one by one.
- Identify the turfgrass of your lawn and purchase a weed killer accordingly. You’ll need different types of weed killers depending on the turf you have. However, there are products like Green Gobbler Weed and Grass Killer that can take care of multiple types of weeds on lawns.
- Focus on these ingredients- Mecoprop, Dicamba, or Triclopyr. The product you choose, should have these ingredients to be effective (refer to my buying guide for details).
- Once you have the herbicide, check the weather for possible rainfall. Rain washes most weed killers away. It’s never a good sign. You should always let the product settle in. My advice to you would be to apply it on a sunny day. This will help the product to be sucked in quicker than normal.
- Just to let you guys know, Creeping Charlie’s growth spurt happens after the fall season. So, the ideal time to treat is early fall.
- Mix the herbicide according to manufacturer instructions for optimal results. Add surfactant if needed. Again, vinegar-based herbicides won’t even require a surfactant to begin with.
- Make sure the weed’s foliage is wet enough after the treatment. I mean, the weed should be soggy after you treat it with its nemesis.
- Do not mow or irrigate the land for a week. By this time, most of the products we use, settle down.
- Never go into action without protective gear as some of the organic medicines as well as chemical weed killers are toxic.
- Keep children and pets away from the treated area.
- If the weeds resurface, don’t shy away from a second or even third application. Weeds like Buckthorn for example, need to be treated a second time before they’re completely wiped out.
- Take care of your lawn. A healthy turfgrass is the best defense against Creeping Charlie.
Parting Words of Mine
I’ve been battered and bruised in the battle against Creeping Charlie, but I came out victorious.
Surprisingly, the thought of dealing with stubborn weeds is more intense than the task itself. So, the advice I would like to part with is- take action, be proactive, and the results will find you.
The list I’ve provided is a compilation of all the stellar herbicides I’ve used. However, I’m human, and I have favorites too. I’d say the best weed killer for Creeping Charlie title goes to T-Zone Turf Herbicide and Bonide (BND0613) – Ready to Use.
I love these because they’re a perfect fit for my lawn- your scene may differ. Do your homework beforehand.
Finally, I have full confidence in some of the best weed killers for Creeping Charlie that I’ve used. You’ll find them on this list. I hope you could say the same way I do-Charlie creepeth no more.