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Gardening column: Kill Creeping Charlie and other weeds with these methods

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, May 12, 2017 12:01 am

Q: Will vinegar work to kill weeds?

A: Yes it will kill weeds but there is a bit of process that may help kill them faster.

• You can use any type of vinegar but it is suggested that the less expensive white vinegar works well by itself.

• For best results spray the vinegar on the leafy part of the weed in direct sunlight. Apparently the heat from the direct sun helps it to work faster.

• Doing this will not reach downward into the root so you will have to spray again when the plant recoups or when you see the tops are dead, pull the plant.

• Add a little dish soap to the spray bottle — this will soften the leaves so that the vinegar can penetrate more easily.

• Try to keep the vinegar directly on the plant you wish to kill — if it is sprayed around it will also kill any other vegetation it lands on.

• Some recipes say to add salt but it is never wise to use salt in the landscape.

Q: I have creeping Charlie growing everywhere. Is there a safe method of killing this plant? I do not want to resort to chemicals.

A: Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is considered a broad leaf weed and as we all know, is nearly impossible to control. The only chemical (dicamba) recommended for use does not guarantee that it will kill this weed completely and to do any good at all must be applied several times over the season.

• Pulling in the lawn is ineffective because it is a vine and has nodes wherever there are leaves and those nodes are roots and will attach themselves to the soil as it spreads throughout the lawn. Also when you pull if you don't get every root/node, it will grow another leaf and continue to spread.

• Many weeds including creeping Charlie tend to grow best in a lawn that is unhealthy. (A soil test would tell you what your lawn needs.)

• To bring your lawn's soil back to a healthy balance it is important to mow properly, water and fertilize correctly.

• Adding appropriate fertilizer at the proper time is important. Here is a link to a publication that will help you choose the right times as well as what to use for best results: https://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/ay/ay-27-w.pdf.

• Using a mulching mower and setting it high instead of bagging the grass is an important step that will help give the lawn back its ability to fight against weed invasions.

• Taking these steps stimulates the grass to grow thick and healthy and will go a long way to crowd out a lot of weed growth including creeping Charlie.

• Most of us have heard that Borax works to kill this weed but that has not been proven to be true and the damage Borax can do to the soil and to your other plants makes it a poor choice, in my opinion.

• Hand pulling is fairly easy if creeping Charlie gets in your garden beds and is very easy to do following watering or a rain shower. Also smothering the soil around your vegetables or flowers, etc., with mulch works well. Put down a thick layer of newspaper, water it, and then add mulch.

• In a raised bed, I find cultivation with a hand claw keeps most weeds from doing more than germinating. The claw drags the seedlings out of the soil where they dry up and die.

Jane Ford is an Advanced Master Gardener. Email questions to bloominthing@gmail.com. She also answers gardening questions with horticulture educator Ricky Kemery noon-1 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of each month on "The Plant Medic," a radio show on 95.7fm. This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of The News-Sentinel.

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