Are you looking for an effective weed killer to control Creeping Charlie? Instead of resorting to chemical herbicides or Round Up, why not try this Borax Weed Killer? Established lawns are tolerant of Borax and this formula works well on them.
Glechoma hederacea, also known as Creeping Charlie, Creeping Jenny or ground ivy, is a common invasive plants that can ruin the look of your lawn. Creeping Charlie is an aggressive, low-growing perennial that loves to live and spread in shady, moist areas.
This plant is a member of the mint family and has a slightly aromatic scent, particularly right after you have mowed your lawn. Ground ivy spread by its seeds and also by its vining stems which root at their nodes.
The leaves of creeping Charlie have a distinctive coin shape with rounded toothed edges. Since it is a creeping plant, it can move out of borders and invade the lawn, which makes hand weeding a real challenge.
Hand weeding works fairly well in spring, but as soon as the lawn has started growing, it becomes more difficult. Weeding by hand can be an arduous task because of the numerous roots along the stems of the weed. If you have ever pulled up a long string of creeping Charlie, you will know how this brings a smile to your face!
Creeping Charlie is native to Europe and was first used in the US as a ground cover. It was soon discovered to be a pest because of its spreading habit.
I have made a vinegar weed killer in the past, but it will kill surrounding grass if used in a lawn, so I needed an alternative.
Borax Weed Killer for Creeping Charlie
Note on usage
Even though this weed killer works well for killing Creeping Charlie and not killing your grass, care must still be exercised when using it. If excessive quantities are used, Borax can damage and even destroy lawns. I am not suggesting this weed killer as a general all around remedy for weeds.
This weed killer is effective against Creeping Charlie but can be damaging to other plants, so take care using it. It does work wonders on weeds in cracks in walkways, though, since it will not hurt surrounding plants.
This weed killer uses Twenty Mule Team Borax. Borax as a base. Borax is actually sodium tetraborate, which contains Boron, a white, crystalline, mineral salt. All plants need a certain amount of boron to survive, but this varies from plant to plant.
As early as the 1920s, this mineral salt was being used not only for its natural cleaning properties, and also because gardeners learned that it was able to eradicate weeds. When borax powder is used on weeds, it will exceed the amount that the plant needs to a toxic level and will thus kill the weed.
How well it works, and how toxic the weed killer is depends on how much boron is already in your soil. Soil testing will give you this information and much more. Borax is not harmful to people, but since most plants cannot tolerate too much of it, using it on weeds in a vegetable garden is not recommended.
Borax is not only great as a weed killer for creeping Charlie. I also tested five versions of a Borax ant killer against Terro and found that many of them are quite effective at controlling ants. Borax can also be used to preserve flowers when combined with corn meal with great results.
Natural Creeping Charlie Borax Weed Killer Formula
There are lots of retail weed killers which are effective at killing Creeping Charlie, but if you are looking for a more natural weed killer, this one is known to be effective.
This formulation is one that I found on the University of Iowa’s website. They suggest taking care to use the proper formulation to avoid adding excessive amounts of Borax to your lawns.
This formula will treat 1,000 sq. feet: (Don’t use it on a smaller area, or it will be too strong.) For use on established lawns.
- 10 oz. Twenty Mule Team Borax
- 4 oz. warm water
Mix well and then dilute in 2.5 gal. water.
TIP: If you have trouble mixing the Borax, a reader Claudia has suggested that she mixes hers formula in a blender for 30 seconds and it does a good job. An old blender would be better than one you use for food preparation.
For uniform application on weeds, pour the Borax weed killer into a spray bottle and evenly apply the mixture over the area to be treated. I use a spray bottle that holds about 3 cups of the mixture and know that it will treat 62 square feet.
Remember that creeping Jenny spreads by underground runners, so it’s a good idea to treat a slightly wider area than the one where you find the weed.
For smaller areas, cut the amounts down but keep the percentages the same. i.e. For 500 feet, use 5 oz of Borax in 2 oz of warm water and dilute with 1.25 gallons of water.
For best results, apply the Borax weed killer when the creeping Charlie weed is actively growing in the fall. Choose a day when no rain expected for at least 48 hours. Then repeat two weeks later.
You can print out the Borax weed Killer here. I set my printer to print it in the center of a piece of photo paper and chose 5 inches as my width. It fit nicely around my spray bottle.
What to expect for results
The type of soil that you have may impact the amount of weed killer that it will accept. Leaf browning of the weed normally begins by the end of the first week. This weed killer should be used once a year for two successive years.
Be sure not to get too energetic with the formula once you see it working. Adding too much can leave you with dead patches in your lawn which will need re-seeding. It is normal for some light browning to occur on the good grass in the lawn. They should recover over time.
The biggest problem that people encounter when using this weed killer is applying too much. The formula covers 1000 square feet and that is how much it should be used on. More is not always better and certainly not in this case.
The key to the successful eradication of ground ivy is proper application. After the weed has been controlled and your lawn re-established, practice good lawn care tips so that your lawn develops a thick stand of turf grass. This will help to discourage creeping Jenny from being a problem in future.
Good lawn care means making sure to practice good mowing, (2.5 to 3 inch grass height helps) watering and fertilizing habits. Selective tree pruning will allow more sunlight, which will help to control the weed, too.
In spite of this Borax weed killer doing a good job at killing creeping Charlie, nothing works as well as having a thick, healthy lawn to keep the weed out of it in the first place.
A note on toxicity. Borax is known to be toxic to both dogs and cats, so be careful of this formula around them. Vinegar is the only weed killer that I know is perfectly safe near pets and it is not selective, so it will kill the grass too.
Do you have a problem with Creeping Charlie? What did you do to get it under control? Please leave your comments below.