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Creeping Charlie  RSS feed

 
            
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Hello Everyone,

I live in Chicago.  New to the list, but have been a long time organic lawn care fan ... but with moderate results.  The lawn has not seen any chemicals since we moved in 14 years ago.  I've always mowed long, although at 3" maybe not long enough.  I've used ringers in the past but stopped for several years.  Last year I added ringers what the bag recommends twice -- once in the spring and once in the fall and again this spring.  I water infrequently, some years not at all.

I have some some clover spots, violets and the occasional dandelion that I pick but nothing that really bothers me except ... the creeping charlie.  It is getting worse and worse every year.  I've tried to remove it last year by using a cavex rake year.  But I think it has made it worse.  Outside of raising my mower to 4" does anyone have a solution before it takes over my entire lawn!

Thanks,
Dave
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Get a soil test.  Make sure the test includes pH and boron.

Do you have a lot of shade?

You can beat it by pulling it, but you have to stay on top of it.  For me, that would be too much work.  I would find some other way.  Even if I have to plant a smother crop.

Do you know what kind of grass you are growing?
 
            
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Hello Paul,

No I really don't know what type of grass I'm growing.  We live in an area with a lot of mature trees.  In the the front yard we have a lot of sun and no creeping charlie.  In the backyard we have three large pines at 30-40 ft. and have areas with some shade.  These shaded areas have a lot of creeping charlie.  Also the along raised garden beds, fence lines and my cold frame again in the shade.

You mention testing for boron with my soil test.  I've read about using borax to increase the level of boron in the soil to kill creeping charlie.  I'm a little nervous about using this technique over dosing the boron and killing everything.  I'll contact my extension office to find out about pH testing.

I'm interested in planting a "smother crop", can you explain this further.
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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Don't be tossing borax out there until you know what your current boron levels are!  And remember, a tiny bit of boron goes a long ways!

Boron, shade and pH can all play roles here.  We need more info!

A smother crop is where you toss out some seed for something that is going to outcompete your charlie.  Then it conveniently dies - allowing you to plant in your favorite kind of grass.



 
                                  
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I live in Wisconsin, and have neighbors on 3 sides of me that have what I call creeping charlie which seemingly wants to take over my lawn.  What can I do?
 
paul wheaton
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What have your lawn care habits been like?  You don't have it right now, right?
 
Leah Sattler
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sound like it can have some uses. which one is it?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glechoma_hederacea

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malva_sylvestris
 
Mary Louise
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I have alot of creeping charlie in my yard also so I would be very interested in hearing what natural methods would work on it. Is it a matter of ammending the soil and planting new grass? About 4 years ago I had a lawn service work on my lawn and the creeping charlie was killed out pretty much. Well it is back again and I do not want to use chemical treatments on my lawn ever again. 
 
paul wheaton
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Mary Louise,

(sorry for the delay in response - interenet trouble)

What have your lawn care practices lately?

 
                        
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I have been in my house for 6 years.  I haven't done anything to the back yard - I have a wired haired terrier - earth dog who does some digging.  The yard has a lot of clover (no problem) but I do have a lot of creeping charlie which is taking over about 1/4 of the yard.  I also have dandelions.  I will be purchasing Ringer yard repair, but don't know if that will encourage the creeping charlie.  What can I do to get rid of charlie?  Should I do something before fertilizing?  Thanks.  In one sense I don't care how the back yard looks, but I do have neighbors on either side who do care...  mk
 
paul wheaton
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I merged your thread with a couple of others on the same topic.  Does this answer your questions?

 
                        
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well I've done nothing to help the yard for the 6 years I've been here, except let the dog water/fertilize it.  He small, doesn't do much to the yard.  Except in the winter, I have to shovel the snow so he knows where to do his thing.  He has to find grass and dirt.  The grass dies there pretty good, but by this time of year it's mostly grown back.

The yard is shaded on the West by pine trees and SW by 1 huge silver maple.  The creeping charlie is the worst where the sun shines in the yard.

I mow on the highest setting a couple of times a week except when it's dry - mid summer through August - about once a week or less then.  I don't water the yard. 

What does kill creeping charlie?
 
Scott Reil
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Location: Colchester, CT
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I've never seen an excessive boron level. Ever. ALWAYS low. Always (except in Death Valley and other desert environs where these things can build up; Wisconsin, no.). And the recommended rates are low for optimal growth; I like 2-5 ppm. Adding borax is usually a good idea...

And what the hell is wrong with a four inch cut height? That's what worked for me...

S
 
Rob Blom
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Hi everyone!

I know this is an old post but I was looking into the same plant and what to do with it in terms of permacultural practices. This is also my first post on permies.

I hope no one is offended if I say this (hard to write emotions into text) but I think the post goes away a bit from the permaculture philosophy and more towards the mechanistic lifestyle of forcing nature to do what you want it to do, or have nature be what you want it to be. The fault may lie in perception itself. What is wrong with a little creeping charlie in your yard?

Although often times maintaining strong levels of boron or other micronutrients is key to a healthy ecosystem, so are plants that grow naturally. My solution is very simple (most solutions generally are); although you may agree with it or not (permaculture is an intersubjective practice)! We know one can't just sit back and twiddle their thumbs on a wooden rocking chair outside and whistle while nature does what it does best (If you want, you can picture paul wheaton doing this [I know I did! ]). There is no human element in this. It is strictly nature. What we can do, however, is understand the plant (creeping charlie) and how it relates to the human-in-nature ecosystem. Just like mint, which is also quite invasive, I just stroll outside a bit and grab a few chunks of mint or charlie and make it into tea. Great for your body, great for the ecosystem. Keeps the creeping charlie controlled. You just take a little (like what the indigeneous do here in Canada with dandelion root) and then leave enough so that it can regrow.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts. I used to look at all these "weeds" and want them out of the garden (Dutch upbringing). But now I see a bare lawn and think it's quite unnatural, pioneer plants gallore = good.

Here is a introductory resource into creeping charlie:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glechoma_hederacea#Cultivation_and_medicinal_and_culinary_uses

All the best, comments are welcome
- Rob
 
Jeanine Gurley Jacildone
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Welcome to permies Rob. And I too love my 'integrated' lawn. The chocolate mint smells heavenly when I mow and I can't seem to keep enough dandelions in the lawn because I keep eating them.
 
R.D. O'Brien
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I think all-grass lawns are ugly and rude. A lawn blanketed by clover, dandelions, and creeping charlie, and alive with bees and butterflies is a beautiful site indeed. My neighbors dump herbicides and fertilizers all over their yards to steal the beauty away from their lawns and conform with the other ridiculous and ugly green deserts around them. I never pick dandelions. They accumulate nutrients from their marvelous taproots. Clover fertilizes the lawn. Creeping charlie attracts beneficial insects. I think the all-green flowerless lawn and what it takes to maintain it, goes against the very philosophy of permaculture. My lawn is an oasis on my street. It's teeming with worms (and the birds that eat them), butterflies, honeybees, rabbits, fireflies. I never have to water it, fertilize it, and since my grass has to compete with other plants, it doesn't grow too fast and I hardly ever have to cut it, meaning less fuel for the lawnmower and noise pollution.

The herbicide companies have somehow convinced most people that flowers need to be eliminated. I think herbicide companies need to be eliminated. I hope to do my part in that endeavor.
 
Luke Burkholder
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This is an old thread, but it is appropriately named, so I will keep it going.

I've got lots of creeping charlie. I'm trying to have a lawn, but I'm trying to have as permaculture of a lawn as possible. I mow high with a reel mower, I never water my lawn (but I do strategically empty my rain barrels.) I've done soil tests, and they show high pH and low boron, so I've added sulfur, and sprayed a weak borax solution to try to make my soil as favorable to grass as possible. Now that I read more of Elaine Ingham's stuff, I'm wondering if adding those things is adding too many salts and disrupting the soil-food-web. Always more to learn.

My Question! If I take the most permaculture perspective that the problem is the solution, what problem is the creeping charlie working to correct? Is it a dynamic accumulator? (of what?) Is it really tolerant of something I have too much of? Is it hardy against a deficiency I might have? How can I help this plant do the work it is trying to do?

Thanks!

 
Hester Winterbourne
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Once I'd worked out that Creeping Charlie is what I would call Ground Ivy, I also found out it is not native to the US so I think that is your answer as to why it becomes a problem for you that can't be easily "cured" by a permaculture solution. If it is not native, there will be far fewer pests willing to eat it and keep it in check. Ironically, I wish I could get my hands on a bit for my wild area on the allotment! I suppose you could plant a non-native grass which would be even more invasive and would outcompete the Charlie, but then you'd end up like that folk tale about the people who ended up with elephants instead of mice, and had to get mice back in to scare them away... you know the one?

I thought it liked shade, but one of the posters said it was worst in the sunny part of the lawn. If I had way too much of it I would probably keep scratching it up and maybe try to improve the drainage by deep spiking and putting lawn sand in the holes.
 
siu-yu man
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thoughts:

i would do a positive ID what it actually is first, as there are a few plants that people call "creeping charlie". it could be the 2 linked above or it could be this:
http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/gold-coin-grass/

or this: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysimachia_nummularia

if it's glechoma hederacea (you still be able to tell, as it's flowering now, look at pic at link), eat it!
the other ones are also edible, but i would do more research first, as they are more medicinal and good for some body types, and not so good for others.

as far as a permaculture problem/solution to your lawn, if you consider it a salad and/or wildflower meadow, you could wrap your head around it better. e.g. take some patches and cultivate, then spread some wildflower mixtures in them, then let them grow wild and do their thing. i'm also a big fan of chamomille and yarrow, it's hard to find big seed bags of them, but if you start with small packets and let them go to seed, they will spread sooner or later.

personally, i wish i could get rid of my grass altogether, but that's me.
 
William Bronson
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I don't get the objection to this plant in a Permaculture lawn. It stays green, is edible / medical,stands up to being trod upon, what's not to like?
I wish one could buy it like grass seeds, cheap,ubiquitous and plentiful.
 
Luke Burkholder
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I'm not hating on it, I totally embrace this plant in my permaculture lawn. I've got some dandelions, and they are signaling to me an area of my lawn where the soil is compacted and maybe a little low on nutrients; so I sprinkle some compost there. I have clover, and it is signaling to me an area of my lawn that is nitrogen deficient, so I sprinkle a little nitrogen rich fertilizer there. I have crabgrass, and it signalling an area of generally poor soil; so I sprinkle some compost and fertilizer there. Or whatever. Sometimes I just do nothing and see what happens.

What I don't like are the areas of my lawn that seem to be a monocrop of creeping charlie. It is definitely glechoma hederacea, and it is blooming now, and it makes a good tea. I'm not really worried about it being an invasive just because it's a non-native to Wisconsin, I think it can coexist with grass. I just want to encourage the grass a little more.
 
Jonathan Davis
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I also like creeping charlie for reasons that others have mentioned. I would add that it's usually pretty easy to pull out and if you have a reasonably sized area of lawn that you want to keep weed free, you should have no problem pulling it all out while keeping the lawn mowed high, say three inches. Eventually, it will go away. Start in the center and gradually work outward over time. If pulling the weeds from the lawn is a job that is far to big to tackle, I would suggest that the size of the show lawn you are trying to maintain is the problem. I used to stress about lawn weeds until I realized that it was the size of lawn I was trying to maintain that was actually the thing driving me crazy.

I like to designate an area for the perfect lawn to display, and then let the rest of the property (I'm in suburbia) be garden beds and non-lawn areas. I don't mind creeping charlie in my non-lawn areas because it doesn't do any harm and I can easily pull it and mulch it if desired.
 
Mike Cantrell
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there will be far fewer pests willing to eat it and keep it in check


For what it's worth, my pigs LOVE this plant, and when we move them to a new spot, they'll eat every speck of Creeping Charlie, including the roots, before they'll touch anything else. It's far-and-away their favorite forage.
 
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