Creeping charlie and plantings for a slope

Asked April 24, 2018, 11:21 AM EDT

Hi, We have a gentle slope that transitions our driveway to our lawn. For 20 years we have had crown vetch on this slope which has worked well except for the past few years when the crown vetch hasn't thrived and has been taken over by grass and especially creeping charlie. I have two questions, please: 1) How can we eliminate creeping charlie in our lawn and on this slope? There are no other plantings on this slope. 2) what recommendations would you have for plantings on this slope? We like the idea of ornamental grass. We live on two acres of mostly woods and across from a lake. Our style is casual/woodsy/natural. We are open to all and any ideas. We get about 6 hours of direct sunlight in this area. I've attached two pictures of the area. Still with snow coverage but it may give you a better idea of what I'm describing. Thank you for your help! Jerry and Donna Neumann

Chisago County Minnesota creeping charlie crown vetch horticulture plants for slope

1 Response

Thank you for the question. It's good that you are going to replace the crown vetch because it was state listed as a Restricted Noxious Weed in 2016. According to the MN Dept of Agriculture: "Restricted noxious weeds are plants that are widely distributed in Minnesota and are detrimental to human or animal health, the environment, public roads, crops, livestock or other property, but whose only feasible means of control is to prevent their spread by prohibiting the importation, sale, and transportation of their propagating parts in the state except as allowed by Minnesota Statutes, Section 18.82. Plants designated as Restricted Noxious Weeds may be reclassified if effective means of control are developed". Here's a link to the Minnesota DNR that explains the problem with crown vetch in more detail: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/invasives/terrestrialplants/herbaceous/crownvetch.html

To control creeping Charlie, a combination of hand pulling/digging, an herbicide, and persistence is necessary. The best times to apply herbicides are spring and fall, when the weed is in bloom. Selective, postemergence control of creeping Charlie is usually more effective with products containing triclopyr. Here is a link to control options: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/diagnose/weed/idlist.html#CCharlie

Native grasses would be a really nice, appropriate choice for your location. Once established, they will help prevent erosion of the slope, look beautiful, provide food and habitat for insects and small animals and be quite low maintenance. The key is site preparation and plant or seed establishment. Native grasses are slower growing than weeds so you will want to clear as much of the current vegetation as possible to give the new plants a good start without competition. You will need to water frequently and deeply the first year and remove weeds as they appear. There is a saying about the growth rate of native plants: The first year, they sleep. The second year, they creep, and the third year, they leap. This is quite accurate!

Here is one of our publications that has many nice photos and descriptions of native grasses. It's a good place to start. https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/landscaping/ornamental-grasses-for-minnesota/

This is a very comprehensive publication from our SULIS (Sustainable Urban Landscape Information Series) on growing native grasses: http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/landscaping/maint/grass.html

Good luck and thank you for contacting Extension.