Non-Toxic Homemade Weed Killer Recipes: How to get rid of GROUND IVY

In this new series we’re discussing some chemical free weed spray recipes you can safely make at home! Just like all of our DIY products, these recipes are non-toxic and safe for use around your family and pets–but please read the recipes carefully before using! Many of these recipes create an un-targeted herbicide, meaning they will most likely damage your grass and other plants if you broadcast spray.

Please note: These recipes should only be used on green, healthy lawns that are not currently under drought or heat stress.

If you have found a non-toxic weed control method that works for you and are willing to share it, please let us know!

Our first recipe is for…

Homemade Ground Ivy Killer

ground ivy creeping charlie
Ground Ivy, also known as Creeping Charlie. Image courtesy of Iowa State University.

Ground Ivy, also commonly referred to as Creeping Charlie (and less commonly referred to as gill-over-the ground and cat’s foot), is one of the most insidious weeds, both for lawn owners and lawn care professionals. Growing low to the ground and producing hundreds of rootlets each year, mowing it down and hand-pulling the weed are just not viable options for most people. On top of that, because of its vast root system, Ground Ivy is resistant to many targeted herbicides.

Borax laundry powder contains the element boron, one of the minor plant nutrients. Excessive boron is toxic to plants. However, University of Iowa research found that Ground Ivy (commonly called “creeping charlie”) is more sensitive to boron than many northern turf grasses.
By applying Borax at a rate that is toxic to Ground Ivy, but not strong enough to kill turf grass, you can safely eliminate some of this invasive weed. You may also get some die-back on clover and a few other weeds.

PRECAUTIONARY NOTE: Do not use a watering can to apply. Use a pump or hand sprayer only. If your lawn turns yellow from the borax, water thoroughly to move the boron through the soil. Do not treat again if you discover your lawn is sensitive to the borax.

How to Kill Creeping Charlie: A DIY Ground Ivy Spray

What you’ll need:

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ground ivy in bloom creepy charlie in bloom
Ground Ivy in Bloom. Image courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.

In your pump sprayer (NOT your watering can) mix 1 and 1/4 cups of Borax in 1 gallon of hot water. Shake or stir well until completely dissolved. Then, last but not least, mix in the 1 tablespoon of dish soap. The dish soap will help your homemade weed killer stick to the leaves of the ground ivy. (NOTE: it’s important to mix the soap in last, after the water has been added to the sprayer, or else you’ll have more suds than water in the sprayer!)

When to apply: Apply early in the day before the heat closes the pores of the plants (yes, plants have pores too!). The time period when the dew has mostly dried off would be ideal, or you can apply in the evening after sunset.

How to apply: Set your sprayer to a fine spray pattern and coat all visible ground ivy/Creeping Charlie with your homemade ground ivy spray. One gallon of this mixture should cover up to 1000 sf of ground ivy. Repeat the application in two weeks if the grass shows no sign of boron sensitivity (yellowing).

What to do after the Ground Ivy is Gone: You may still need to pull out the dead ivy after a few rounds of Borox spray, simply because it will take a long time for the dead plant to decompose, and worse than having Creeping Charlie in your lawn is having patches of dead Creeping Charlie. But, as you will know if you have been reading this blog for some time, weeds LOVE bare soil, so it’s important to get new grass growing where the Ground Ivy was, ASAP.

Ground Ivy loves moist, shady conditions, so if the area you are seeding matches that description be sure to use a shade tolerant grass seed like Tall or Creeping Red Fescue for cooler climates, or St. Augustine or Zoysia grass for warmer climates. However, if the area in question has poor drainage or experiences standing water, it will be difficult to germinate new seed. Consider using Aerify PLUS to promote better soil structure and irrigation.

And as always, make sure you don’t mow your lawn too short! Short grass can expose the bare soil below and leave your lawn vulnerable to new weeds.

If you have found a non-toxic weed control method that works for you and are willing to share it with the lawn care and gardening world, please let us know!

 

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