Control of Ground Ivy in Lawns

Ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) is a common weed in many lawns.  Ground ivy is a low-growing, creeping, invasive perennial.  It spreads by seed and the vining stems (stolons) which root at their nodes.  The leaves of ground ivy are round or kidney-shaped with scalloped margins.  Stems are four-sided.  Flowers are small, bluish purple, and funnel-shaped.  Ground ivy thrives in damp, shady areas, but also grows well in sunny locations.  A member of the mint family, ground ivy produces a minty odor when cut or crushed.  Ground ivy is also known as "creeping charlie."
This spring the ground ivy is especially prominent.  Some infested areas are a sea of bluish purple flowers.  Apparently, the growing conditions over the last 6 to 12 months have been highly favorable. 
Control of ground ivy in lawns is difficult.  If the ground ivy is not completely destroyed, surviving portions will continue to grow and spread.  The most effective broadleaf herbicide products are those that contain one or more of the following compounds; 2,4-D, MCPP, dicamba, and triclopyr.  Fall (late September through early November) is the best time to control ground ivy.  (Spring applications are ineffective.)  Two broadleaf herbicide applications are necessary to effectively control ground ivy.  The first application should be made in late September/early October, the second a month later.  As always when using pesticides, carefully read and follow label directions. 
Once the ground ivy has been effectively controlled, home gardeners should follow sound cultural practices.  Proper mowing, fertilization, and other good management practices should help establish a thick, healthy lawn.  A dense stand of grass should help discourage future invasions of this aggressive weed.

Ground ivy in bloom covering a yard
The bluish-purple flowers of ground ivy in bloom.

Ground ivy in bloom at a shady park
Ground ivy thrives in damp, shady areas.


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