Creeping Charlie & Herbicides

(Question)

Which is better to use for Creeping Charlie?
Wipe out or Elimaweed? I am in Etobicoke. I understand it also gets rid of the grass, etc. and I would need to wait a few weeks to plant the grass seed.

(Answer)

Thank you for your inquiry. The public’s increasing demand for safe “green” products has resulted in many new environmentally friendly products becoming available for controlling weeds in the garden and landscape.

The majority of these “green” weed-control products such as Elimaweed or Wipeout are botanically based oils, soaps, or acetic acid that control weeds by affecting the cell membranes of the plant, causing rapid breakdown and dessication of the leaf tissue. Unfortunately, because these herbicides kill only the green parts of the plant they contact, they don’t provide long-term control of weeds such as Creeping Charlie, which possess extensive underground rhizomes, therefore many of these treated weeds are able to recover. Elimaweed and Wipeout are usually applied after the weeds have emerged (postemergent) and as a result they have little control on weed seedlings that germinate after application.

Applied in sufficient quantites, these products will burn your grass especially if applied in bright sunlight. Which ever herbicide you decide to use they will work best in conjunction with good cultural practices such as improving soil health, irrigation, turf nutrition, proper mowing height and overseeding.

The best method of eliminating creeping Charlie is good old hand pulling. Make sure to get the entire plant, including its extensive underground root system.  Many people have had success with removing Creeping Charlie from grass by simply hoeing along the surface of the lawn after a rain. Be persistent,  you’ll likely need to go back several times to get rid of this weed. Remember to overseed after removing any weeds, so you control what uses up the available space.

A fact sheet the Toronto Master Gardeners prepared for the City of Toronto, Tackling Weeds Organically, is a great resource, and discusses the use of corn gluten (in early spring, several weeks before you can see weeds popping up) to stop seeds from germinating.

Conditions that discourage Charlie’s growth (he loves acidic soil), like adding lime to increase soil pH, is a good idea.  Be careful that you don’t increase the pH too much, as you could harm grass and other plants.

Good Luck