Creeping Charlie (Glechoma hederacea) is by pretty much everyone’s standards a first class weed.
It’s a weed in my food forest for sure, having some spots it’s quite happy. I’ve found that once you get familiar, it’s quite friendly as a ground cover.
I have several spots I pull up everything but the Creeping Charlie making a thick, low mat around the base of preferred plants. As long as these get a
chance to establish and stay above the cover (which isn’t hard. In very good cases creeping charlie will grow only 3 inches tall) they don’t mind at all.
If during establishment things look a little overwhelmed, I just scrape up the stuff like cobwebs to give a bit of respite. Once it grows back things work out well.
As I mentioned here before, I find its tiny blue flowers peeping out from under the cute rounded leaves quite attractive. There is even a variegated form if you want to get fancy. Companion Plants is the only place I’ve seen it available, but you might find it somewhere else.
A friend of mine whose been exploring what a yard can do when you let it do its own thing has a gorgeous patch of it in the middle of his front yard I hardly even recognized at first.
After seeing that I got the idea of a monoculture of creeping charlie for a lawn rather than a monoculture of grass. You wouldn’t have to mow!
I think it would be pretty. Any thoughts?
I guess just about anything beats a lawn that has to be mowed. I have the same plant, but know it as “ground ivy”. It was already growing in the hedgerow in my current garden and is okay if confined to that area. But in the manner of all creeping plants it does tend to want to take over if it gets the chance. I think it would be fine amongst larger plants or trees, but not in my veggie beds!
I am experimenting with it among perennial vegetables and noticed deep rooted plants in general don’t mind it. And when it’s sunny the plant often hugs the ground more than in shade. Where I have shallow rooted plants I manage it by superficially ripping it up in passing, which takes very little time and effort but keeps it in check. Thanks for commenting on that point.
The problem with using creeping Charlie as a lawn is bees. This plant is very good bee forage in the early spring (followed soon afterwards by dandelions) and it’s a very bee-friendly decision if you decide to keep lots of it. But you do need to be careful when walking through it.
Yes, I have a similar experience with white clover lawns. The bees are just thick on these, and me with my propensity to go bareefoot has gotten me stung several times. I’ll keep that in mind when discussing this with clients. CC has never stuck out as quite so much of a bee magnet as clover, but I will have to pay closer attention now.
The flowering period is shorter (much shorter than white clover for sure) and it’s true that at that time in the early spring not many people would go barefoot. Still, it’s something to have in mind.
I have very nearly converted my half acre lawn from grass to CC, although I prefer the more friendly name of cat’s foot. I really like the way it smells and always have but maybe mine just is a variety with more mintiness. I am 65 and living alone with no help so I was really grateful when I discovered that it had taken over enough of the lawn this year that I probably will only have to mow once every month to month and a half. Mine does get up to nearly 8 in and I have a photo that I can send that I just took but I don’t see any way to add that to the comment so if you would like to see it just let me know and I will email it to you. It’s quite beautiful and it is in bloom right now here in East Tennessee. I will be mowing at pretty soon, though, but I probably wouldn’t even have to if I wasn’t concerned about the possibility of stepping on some small animal because we do have a lot of rabbits and chipmunks in this area. But my second favorite thing about it is that I discovered that it also is a deterrent to fleas and other noxious pests, and although we haven’t had a problem in a couple of years since I started using the nematodes, I have a Great Dane and it says dreadful thing for a dog that large to have fleas and bringing them in the house is especially traumatic! But I’m thinking I may not have to spray the nematodes with all of the creeping Charlie out there. Thank you for this interesting article and I look forward to more.
What a lovely success! I would love to see. I’m sure that must be beautiful, and especially enjoyable with the nice fragrance! Luke (at) simonorganics.com is my email. Thank you for offering!