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We have ground ivy (creeping charlie) that is trying to take over our back yard. We are against using pesticides, as we have a young son. Are there natural/organic ways of beating it (other than just painstakingly pulling it all out)?

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Did you get rid of the unwanted ground ivy? If yes, can you please explain how you went about doing so... –  Mike Perry Sep 28 '11 at 21:56
    
@MikePerry: no I haven't gotten rid of it yet. Also, there was a pretty big die-off in our front yard. Must have been some sort of disease? –  David Oneill Oct 31 '11 at 17:47
    
What kind of "die-off" ie What died off, what were the symptoms & what does it look like now? –  Mike Perry Oct 31 '11 at 18:49
    
Just the ground ivy died. One time I went out to mow, all the ground ivy was brown and dried looking. The grass, clover, and other weeds looked fine. –  David Oneill Nov 1 '11 at 0:06
    
So you're mad, crazy, gardening skills took care of the ground ivy :) Do you need to get rid of any other unwanted plants or are you now good with what you've got there? –  Mike Perry Nov 1 '11 at 1:34
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5 Answers 5

You could kill it by suffocating it from light and heating it naturally. Put a dark tarp over it, and anchor it so it doesn't blow away. The heat from the sun and lack of light will burn that and anything else growing under there in several days to a couple of weeks.

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Hmm. That would do the trick, although I bet that would kill our grass, too: right? This is in our yard, and I'd rather not kill everything and need to reseed if I don't have to. –  David Oneill Jun 9 '11 at 18:32
    
Yes, it will kill the grass and all weed seed. You would start a new lawn after solarizing and it would be remarkably weed-free. –  Peter DeWeese Jun 23 '11 at 19:38
    
Would this approach work for English ivy or bamboo? We have a section of our yard being invaded by these where we'd like to plant a garden. –  Eli Lansey Mar 28 '12 at 18:08
    
clear plastic heats the ground more than opaque "dark" plastic –  OrganicLawnDIY Jun 8 at 5:45
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I severely disabled some ground ivy by letting it grow a foot tall and mowing it off at one inch. The grass really jumped and thickened, though it was a shock at first. The grass thickening crowded out the ivy and the ivy has been stunted all year.

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Hmm, I'll have to try this. –  David Oneill Oct 31 '11 at 17:48
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This didn't really work too well. –  David Oneill Jul 18 '13 at 13:20
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I've effectively killed it with a 20% horticultural vinegar using a pump sprayer. The grass around it will look like it died but actually goes dormant like it does in a drought. If you water it the day after you spray the vinegar, it will turn green. With the ground ivy, you have to be vigilant because if you leave one runner...the problem comes back. A week after a spray, I'll look for more and do it again. Also, look to see from where it's coming. If your neighbors have it and don't do anything about it, the problem will be endless. I recommend attacking the problem together if possible. Raising the pH with lime, spraying with a bacterial based compost tea and adding calcium and magnesium will help. Sweetening your soil will also help keep out dandelions.

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You need to keep your grass healthy to help combat ground ivy. Water deeply and infrequently and fertilize properly. Have a soil test done at your local cooperative extension to see if there are any issues you need to correct and how much fertilizer you need to add. Ground ivy thrives in damp and insufficiently fertilized soils.

There have been university studies done on using Borax to kill ground ivy with some positive results but some tests didn't show any improvement.

On my blog, I show how the best way I found to remove ground ivy is with a thatch rake. In the fall I use a manual thatch rake to dethatch my lawn. If necessary I follow up by overseeding with a good grass seed and spreading about 1/3" layer of compost on top then water as directed for the seed. The way ground ivy grows and roots makes this very effective. It pulls up some other weeds too but not your grass as long as it's healthy. First time I tried it I was in shock how well it worked.

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I will have to try this - thanks for the tip. (I'll accept the answer if it works) –  David Oneill Jul 18 '13 at 13:20
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You can kill ivy with storm windows/glass. I got rid of a big patch after all else failed with several 4'x6' storm windows. I laid the glass out on the ivy and it fried it in a couple hours. I moved the windows around for a week and killed a 30 foot x 45 foot area of ivy. Cook it and kill it.

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