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Ask Extension: If I put down grass seed while the ground is still frozen, will it help eliminate Creeping Charlie?

Creeping Charlie. Photo: Bob Mugass, UMN Extension

Q: Would it be of any use to put down grass seed while the ground is still frozen but snow has melted?  Would the grass come up and help eliminate Creeping Charlie or do I need to spray yard with chemicals before seeding?

A: It is unlikely to be productive to over seed in the spring as a way to suppress Creeping Charlie. Instead, treating with an appropriate product, maintaining a healthy lawn, using shade tolerant grasses, and choosing alternative ground covers in areas not suitable for growing lawn grasses will help manage weeds like Creeping Charlie. 

Chemical control, for example with 2-4 D can have a severe effect on bees which are already in a rapid decline. Good timing is critical.

Here's a great Yard & Garden News article for everything you need to know about managing Creeping Charlie:
Become a Smarter Gardener 2019: How to manage Creeping Charlie


Lawn flowers (Creeping Charlie, dandelions, squill etc) are often the first food after winter for our highly stressed and declining bee populations. Consider fostering a bee lawn. Creeping Charlie was brought to this country as a pretty and nice smelling ornamental.

Lawn care itself matters in making a lawn harder for Creeping Charlie to become established. Consider aeration. Most lawns in the city are highly compacted. Core aeration can result in a healthier lawn.
How to control thatch in your lawn

Mower height matters. The durability of a law is related to the depth of the roots. By setting the blades high 3.5 to 4.0 inches, the roots go deeper and the soil retains water better and noxious weeds have a harder time invading.
Mowing practices for healthy lawns

If this is your year to improve your lawn, take a look at these care tips: 
Essential Tips for a Healthy Lawn, Part I
Essential Tips for a Healthy Lawn, Part II

Authors: Gail Hudson, Y&G News Editor, Extension Communications and Steve Miles, Hennepin County Master Gardener

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