Borax Weed Killer for Creeping Charlie

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.This Borax weed killer does a good job of controlling creeping Charlie in your lawns.

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.

Creeping Charlie flowers

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!leaves of creeping Charlie

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.Borax powder can be used in a weed killer to control creeping Charlie

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.Bottle of weed killer containing Borax

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.Label for Borax Weed Killre

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. Borax weed killer for creeping Charlie in lawns

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. Good lawn care will help to keep out creeping Charlie

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.


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  48 comments for “Borax Weed Killer for Creeping Charlie

  1. 06/19/2017 at 5:44 am

    This is a great post Carol! You obviously know a lot about this subject as this is very informative to read.

    Natural weed killers are important, and finding natural alternatives for the garden is something we should all focus on more.

    Thanks for providing the amounts to make this weed killer, it’s just got to be scaled down now!

    Again, thanks for the brilliant read Carol.

    • Carol
      06/19/2017 at 10:17 am

      Thank you for the nice comment Kevin. I’l glad you enjoyed the article. Carol

  2. Mary
    07/14/2017 at 10:18 pm

    How much Borax is 10oz?

    • Carol
      07/14/2017 at 10:35 pm

      I didn’t measure it, I weighted it on a digital scale.

      • ERP
        07/16/2018 at 12:47 pm

        I can’t dissolve 10 oz powder in half cup of water… that’s too much to even make a paste. Are you sure on the ratios? 10 oz is about 2/3 of a pound.

        • Carol
          07/16/2018 at 4:51 pm

          Yes, the ratios are correct. It’s 10 ounces in 1/2 cup. This paste is THEN dissolved in 2 and 1/2 gallons of water. CArol

  3. Carol Baker
    08/13/2017 at 10:53 am

    Thanks for this great article. Never had this in my lawn but this year I noticed seedlings growing up in my beds. Since it’s a pretty leaf thought I’d let them grow. I will now go out and promptly eradicate. Huge and timely thanks.

    • Carol
      08/13/2017 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Carol I often see weeds that are pretty and am tempted to leave them but they can be invasive! Carol

  4. Lyle
    09/26/2017 at 6:45 am

    does borax killby spraying it on the plant and then being absorbed or spraying it on the ground and taken up through the roots?

    • Carol
      10/04/2017 at 8:01 pm

      In my experience most weed killers work by moving from the leaves through to the roots under the plant. Carol

  5. 04/24/2018 at 3:18 pm

    Hi Carol, I have used the vinegar formula without success so I will give your formula a try. One question, is it harmful to small animals(cats and dogs)?

    • Carol
      04/24/2018 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Bob. Borax powder is known to be toxic around pets so I would be careful of using even a diluted formula around them if they are likely to chew on the grass and weeds. Vinegar and boiling water are the only weed killers that I know of that are safe, but both are not selective and will kill everything you put them on. Carol

    • Chuckers
      06/29/2019 at 1:09 am

      Bob Henbrey, for most weeds, you need 2 things for vinegar to kill. 1) Lots of sunlight. 2) About 3 to 4 TABLEspoons of dish-washing soap per 1 gallon of vinegar. The vinegar will just fall off of most weeds’ leaves unless you mix the soap in it.

  6. Mary
    06/06/2018 at 11:30 am

    how long do you have to wait before letting your dog in yard treated with borax formula

    • Carol
      06/06/2018 at 11:37 am

      Hi Mary. I don’t recommend using Borax weed killers around pets. Vinegar weed killer is the only homemade weed killer that I believe is safe around dogs. Carol

  7. donald
    07/08/2018 at 7:12 pm

    have heard sunlight grandular and borax work on Charlie-your thoughts???

    • Carol
      07/09/2018 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Donald. I have never tried this combination so I don’t know how it would work. Carol

  8. Jim Sherman
    07/13/2018 at 11:11 am

    Any idea if borax will work in ground cover? We have large beds of eounymous coloradus that has been invaded by creeping charlie/creeping jenny & wondering if anyone has experience as to whether borax will also kill the coloradus?
    Thanks.

    • Carol
      07/13/2018 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Jim. I would be careful using the weed killer in garden beds. Borax can easily kill perennials. Grass is tougher but even on lawns, once must be careful of the dosage. Carol

  9. Holly
    08/08/2018 at 12:01 pm

    Thanks for the label!! 🙂

  10. Jill
    08/10/2018 at 5:16 pm

    So if Borax is toxic to dogs and cats, is it also toxic to rabbits and other wild life? If so, does that make it any better than chemicals?

    • Carol
      08/10/2018 at 5:32 pm

      Having nature take care of things naturally is optimal. Borax provides a LESS toxic and cheaper option than chemical fertilizers. I always err on the side of caution when talking about its use around any animals. Carol

      • Melissa
        08/24/2018 at 4:23 pm

        Carol, I need help with calculations. I have a 20 gallon hose end sprayer. What setting do I use for the borax treatment?

        And, do I use all 2.5 gallons of pre-mixed solution per 1000 sq’ or just one fill of the hose end sprayer per 1000 sq’. It is a Green Cross hose end sprayer and it runs from 2-60 on the dial. I am new to this.

        • Carol
          08/25/2018 at 12:54 am

          Hi Melissa I have never used this formula in a hose end sprayer so I cannot tell you the settings to use. I just mix mine in a large bucket and use it over the 1000 square feet.
          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.

          Carol

  11. Dagmar Romano
    09/01/2018 at 9:16 am

    How soon after applying the borax recipe can you reseed the lawn??????

    • Carol
      09/01/2018 at 12:03 pm

      Hi Dagmar. I’m afraid I can’t answer that question since I have not tried to reseed after using the weed killer. Carol

  12. James Barrett
    09/05/2018 at 6:25 pm

    Carol – I was thinking of applying the Borax once this Fall (October?) and again in the Spring (April?). I live in Connecticut. Does this sound right?

    PS – my lawn is covered with ground ivy.

    • Carol
      09/06/2018 at 11:17 am

      Hi James. The weed killer should be used in the fall a couple of weeks apart. Carol

  13. James
    10/03/2018 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Carol:

    I just some in a small patch last Friday. Today is Wednesday. I see no evidence its working. No browning of the ivy at all. Still looks pretty healthy.

    I used 5 teaspoons of Borax to one quart of water.

    What am I missing?

    • Carol
      10/03/2018 at 7:51 pm

      Hi James. Your measurements are in different variables than the recipe that I posted, so I’m not sure if it is weaker than the formula. My formula from the University of Iowa is

      This formula will treat 1,000 sq. feet: 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.

      Carol

  14. James
    10/06/2018 at 10:54 am

    Thanks Carol. I will wait til spring to apply. Should I apply at a certain air temperature? Also – does rain adversely affect the application?

    • Carol
      10/06/2018 at 5:58 pm

      Hi James. The most effective results come from using a weed killer when the temps are dry and when it is the active growing season. Rain will dilute it so it should be used when you don’t expect rain. Carol

  15. Claudia
    10/12/2018 at 12:43 pm

    Carol, you said to apply in the spring, but other sites suggest spraying in the fall after the growing season. I have 3-4 acres of Creeping Charlie

    • Carol
      10/12/2018 at 6:47 pm

      Hi Claudia. Thanks for pointing this out. I use most weed killers when weeds are actively growing, but checked again on the University of Iowa (where I got the recipe) and they do say fall for broad leaf, so I have amended my post. Carol

      • Claudia
        10/22/2018 at 1:37 pm

        Carol, I have read that some people have a hard time mixing the borax. I used my stick blender and it only took about 30seconds. That may help someone else

        • Carol
          10/22/2018 at 3:20 pm

          Thanks for the tip Claudia. I will add it to my post. Carol

  16. Ruth Bissaillon
    10/17/2018 at 7:43 pm

    hi thank you for the information on creeping Charlie I have it thick mixed in with my bushes in my flower bed how do I use this formula with that problem? Thanks very much I need help.

    • Carol
      10/17/2018 at 8:44 pm

      Hi Ruth. That is a hard one. The mixture would be fine to use in the lawn, but using it near bushes or in flower beds is not recommended, since it could damage those plants. Hand digging is the only recourse, I’m afraid, but it is hard to get it all. Carol

  17. Stan Curtin
    02/04/2019 at 11:07 am

    I want to clear an area of mostly grass in So. Tex. Think 20 MTB will work? Thanks!
    Jack

    • Carol
      02/04/2019 at 9:53 pm

      I’m not in the position to advise specific use on the dosage for areas of the country. The recipe is one which has been shared from the University of Iowa.(link in article) Perhaps they can help you with specific questions on use in Texas.

  18. Barbara
    05/03/2019 at 12:00 pm

    What is the mix ratio for the vinegar and water alternative since I have pets and am unable to use the borax?

    • Carol
      05/03/2019 at 10:15 pm

      Hi Barbara. I’ve only made this mix using Borax. You may be interested in this post for a vinegar weed killer, but it is a general weed killer, not one specifically for Creeping Charlie, so it possibly kill surrounding grass.

  19. Abraham
    05/09/2019 at 4:01 pm

    I tried putting it in a blender, but the borax still sank to the bottom. What is going wrong?

    • Carol
      05/09/2019 at 4:13 pm

      Hi Abraham. I’m not sure why it is doing that. I didn’t use a blender (a reader suggested this) I just mixed mine by hand and it dissolved fine.

      • Chuckers
        06/29/2019 at 1:17 am

        I have been trying to mix 10oz (by volume, not by weight) of borax with 4 oz of water for literally 3 days and I cannot get it to mix. It just keeps settling to the bottom like a fine sand. I have given up.

  20. Anil
    05/23/2019 at 6:51 pm

    I really need a solution for this weed because even the Ortho weedkiller is useless.
    But I found an article in Star Tribune:
    “Borax is no longer recommended by the University of Minnesota Extension. Borax, too, is a chemical. Use it more than twice to fight creeping Charlie, and it will kill your grass as well — lingering in the soil, and creating a dead zone where nothing else will grow.”

    • Carol
      05/23/2019 at 10:05 pm

      Hi Anil. Thanks for this update. The formula is still suggested on The University of Iowa’s website, so I am not sure which of them is correct.

      • Chuckers
        06/29/2019 at 1:20 am

        This is why I pay little attention to university extensions. I have rarely ever gotten any good, usable information from them. It’s all theory. They rarely ever try what they preach to see if it really works.

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