Borax stops lawn ivy

Q. What is this weed and how can I get it out of my lawn and flower beds? It’s like a little vine and it just goes everywhere in the grass and the flower beds.

Bob from Poland

A. The bane of nearly every home- owner is ground ivy. Some call this creeping Charlie. It is a member of the mint family, which explains why it grows and spreads so quickly in the lawn and in the landscape.

Ground ivy thrives in spring and fall, but can infest our lawns and landscape beds throughout the year. It has tiny purple flowers. The leaves look somewhat like a tiny clam shell or heart. It has a square stem. It will spread through roots which form at the nodes and through seed.

In lawns, lots of ground ivy may be a sign of mismanagement. Sites that are shady and poorly drained seem to grow the most impressive ground ivy populations. Just fix the drainage to get a good start. Otherwise, start to manage the lawn better by cutting higher. Use a lawn rake to take out the ground ivy and seed the lawn (this is a good time of year to reseed)! We have fact sheets at the office to help you with lawn management. You can use chemicals (and even borax), but be sure to read and follow the labels. This link — — explains the borax and rates, even why borax works for this specific weed only. We also have a fact sheet on organic lawn care

If you are more of a weed puller, you can always pull the entire plant and roots out of the ground wherever ground ivy grows. But a good gardener knows this is all but impossible to do.

For flower beds and landscaping, the challenge is quite different. Borax will kill most flowers and vegetables. Gardeners have to resort to pulling and hoeing.

Eric Barrett is the Ohio State University Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Mahoning County. Call the hotline at the office on Mondays at Thursdays from 9am to Noon to submit your questions at 330-533-5538.

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