University of Illinois Extension
Bruce Spangeberg

These articles are written to apply to the northeastern corner of Illinois. Problems and timing may not apply outside of this area.

Stateline Yard & Garden

Ground Ivy Problems in Lawns

May 3, 2001

While there are several top candidates, probably the number one difficult weed problem in area lawns is ground ivy, or creeping Charlie. Although it is unlikely you will totally eradicate this weed, there are a variety of ways to keep it under control in the lawn.

Ground ivy is an aggressive weed that can tolerate shade and poorly drained soils. Lawns growing under these conditions tend to be weaker and thinner, so the ground ivy easily invades. Often extensive patches are formed in shade and sun areas. Ground ivy has square stems, purplish blue funnel-shaped flowers, and round to somewhat kidney shaped leaves with rounded, toothed margins. Crushed leaves have a minty odor.

Adjust management practices in shade areas to help maintain a thicker, vigorous lawn. The best choice for grasses would be fine fescues, which includes creeping red, chewings, hard, and sheep fescue. Mow around three inches or so. Water infrequently. Fertilize less than for lawns in full-sun areas, with an annual nitrogen rate of about one to two pounds per 1,000 square feet. Try to limit traffic over the lawn.

Even when following these practices, ground ivy may still appear. Hand pulling is one control option. Herbicides are also available to reduce the population. Three-way broadleaf herbicide combinations (one product containing all three herbicides) that include 2,4-D, mecoprop or MCPP, and dicamba may provide the best control. Check product labels for these active ingredients. Several of these three-way herbicides are available, sold as Trimec, Three Way Lawn Weed Killer, etc. Read and follow all label directions. Herbicides containing 2,4-DP or triclopyr may also be effective.

Application in fall around the first frost may be an effective time. Some recommendations also suggest the weed is susceptible when in bloom in spring.


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