Any way to get rid of wild garlic?

rudysmallfry(z6)April 11, 2006

I did a complete lawn redo last fall. While the lawn looks great, it's very frustrating to find clumps of wild garlic popping up everywhere. It must have been in the topsoil since I only had a few wild onions last year. Anyway, a little research tells me that this stuff pretty much laughs at chemicals. I did 3 treatments of Roundup to one clump and it's still looking healthy. It's a very round, glossy leaf and nothing sticks to it. There's way too much to dig out. Even if I did dig out several of the smaller clumps, it's a little too late to reseed. I'd just be inviting other weeds into the empty areas. Also, these bulbs are very deep. I doubt I could get them out without leaving bulbs behind. Does anyone have any suggestions as to how I could safely eliminate them?

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username_5(banned for no reason)

If this is indeed garlic I guess my first question is why do anything to get rid of it? The lawn mower should keep it neat looking while weakening it over time.

Garlic is shallow rooted and cannot compete well with water hungry turf. The dry summers should weaken it as well. This problem will likely go away on it's own over the course of a few years.

This is one weed that isn't a real problem for lawn in most cases. It is a problem in pastures where cows eat it and the milk flavor is affected as well as in nurseries where the plants sold may transfer small bulbs to gardens.

Long story short, you aren't going to get rid of a large scale garlic issue in one year.

The approach I recommend is to mow the lawn regularly to keep the green growth stunted, consider limiting irrigation of the lawn in the summer to only that which is required to prevent lawn death in order to further weaken the garlic and if you wish to apply any chemical controls do so in very early spring or after summer. In early/mid spring it puts out new bulbs and this is a poor time to try controlling it. Best to hit it before the next generation is produced. Bulbs that haven't sent up greenery are largely immune to control efforts making this a multi year effort. If you use chemical controls add some soap to the mix to enhance the adhesion of the chems to the greenery. Commercial surfactants may be sold in your area, but they are basically soap (real soap like ivory, not chem soaps that contain no fatty acids) so you can do as well with a make your own approach.

Here is a link to more information.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2006 at 10:17PM
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anubis_pa(z5 PA)

THanks for the link, I too am having a bit of a problem with wild garlic in the lawn. Last year it was a few tufts, and I thought cutting the lawn would weaken it for this year, but instead I've now got about 10x more area and the tufts are thicker. I find it odd that it's also spread to other parts of the lawn that quickly... maybe it's coming in some other way though.

Skimming that link quickly I'm thinking that seed or bulblets or whatever are blowing in from elsewhere.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 12:57AM
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habitat_gardener(z9 CA/Sunset15)

Is this the one that doesn't smell like onions or garlic (Nothoscordum inodorum)? We have large patches of it at the community garden, where people neglected their gardens and it took over. It's difficult to control. The white flowers are lovely, but don't let it go to seed! The more it's neglected, the more it spreads.

It's not in my garden, but I successfully got rid of an isolated patch (2 ft by 2 ft) by pulling out every green shoot and digging for all the bulbs I could find. I did that about 5 times over the course of a month or so, several years ago, and it has not reappeared in that spot since.

At the community garden, I think the person with the worst patch stopped trying to garden and put down cardboard and mulch last year, and this year it's back, much stronger, because there was no follow-up.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 2:42AM
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Thanks username_5. Would I be fine just using a water and ivory soap mix on this stuff? Right now it's getting rather long. Should I scalp it before hitting it with a solution, or hit it while it has as much foliage as possible?

I wouldn't mind it so much, but I don't get how my new grasses are going to be able to coexist with it. While my grass does spread by rhyzomes, the garlic is occupying a lot of space. Once the garlic clumps recede, will the grasses be able to grow in it's place, or will I have gaping holes all over the lawn? I sure hope you're right that this will die off in a few years. I did a ton of work establishing my new lawn last year and would hate to see it all for nothing.

habitat gardener, yes this is the one that doesn't smell like anything. The clumps are very green, shiny, round leaves. The bulbs are about 8" deep.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 7:19PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)


If your plant doesn't have a distinctive garlic smell (when crushed) then it isn't actually wild garlic. There are look alikes.

Here are a couple:

The soap isn't to kill the plant, it is to aid in any control substance adhering to the leaf surface. Often any control substance runs right off the target plant leaves, particularly if they are waxy. The soap breaks this wax down and enables the plant to better absorb the control substance. As this is the organic forum I am going to refrain from recomending any chemical controls. Unfortunately I don't know of any organic controls that will likely work for bulb weeds.

I would suggest positively identifying the plant that you actually have (wild garlic has a very distinctive garlic smell 100% of the time) and do some googling on control measures. Additionally I recommend Garden Web's weed forum and your county extention office might be worth a call to see if they are up on the proper timing of the various control methods and what works best in your area. Extension offices can be useless a lot of the time, but every once in awhile you get someone who knows what they are talking about or can get you in contact with someone who does and their advice is custom tailored to your area.

Until the plant is positively identified I would not recomend taking a wear it down approach as this might be suidical for the lawn. I certainly would advise strengthening the lawn and using the mower to keep the sun capturing leaves as short as possible while you research a control strategy, but this might well be a plant that requires more of a direct approach to get a handle on.

In the long run sometimes biting the bullet and devoting some serious labor hours is the most efficient way to get rid of these problems. I had quack grass that took years to get completely out. It stinks, but if you want a great lawn, sometimes there is no shortcut. The worst time for a lawn is when it is new and very susceptible to invasions like you are having. The good news is that by working on building a strong turf the odds are that once you get this problem plant under control the lawn will be self reliant enough to prevent future 'take overs'.

Good luck. Some research and a little rolling up the sleeves and you should get through this.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 10:08PM
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Oh yeah, it is Star of Bethlehem. I don't know what I thinking. I did all sorts of research and came to the conclusion that it wasn't garlic, but somehow forgot all about it when I posted this.

Now that I think about it, I think I meant to say Star of Bethlehem in the first place. There's way too much of it, so digging is not an option. I guess I'll try scalping it and try to keep it from reseeding.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 10:32PM
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anubis_pa(z5 PA)

Not trying to hijack rudys thread but since it's on topic...

the stuff I have does smell like garlic. A few weeks ago I pulled some out but got hurried and just cut them all out just below the surface. While maybe not the best way, I figured at the time that without the greenery they wouldn't continue to spread at least. Reading that link it may have been just in time to be of any help at all.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:16PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

I don't know if scalping is effective against Star of Bethlehem or not (it isn't a weed I have any knowledge of). I would suggest googling on this weed for effective control measures as scalping, depending on your grass type, may do more harm to the turf than the weed.

A healthy lawn will be an ally against any weed. Not a cure all, but an aid. I wouldn't do anything to jeapordize or delay it's health and vigor while trying to control a weed as it will usually prove counter productive.

I am including a link to a site on control of this weed. The bad news is that it appears chemical controls may be the only viable option other than hand removal which can be a very time consuming effort if the weed is widespread (and it sounds as if it is).

Even if you are willing to resort to chemical controls, there aren't many that have tested as providing effective control of this weed. There are a couple listed in the link, but I am not familiar with them, their short and long term toxic effects or any other environmental/safety concerns.

The link is for information only, I am not advocating the use of any control measure in the link. If you choose to use them please read the label instructions carefully and head them closely. Consider using a surfactant such as soap to increase the effectiveness and thus (hopefully) reduce the amount you have to use.

If any organic only adherants have an organic rememdy to suggest, now is the time to do it. I don't know of any organic controls that would work, but I certainly don't know everything, or anywhere close to it.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:22PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

---While maybe not the best way, I figured at the time that without the greenery they wouldn't continue to spread at least. Reading that link it may have been just in time to be of any help at all.---

With wild garlic in a lawn what you did was helpful and the timing ideal. You want to rob it of it's leaves in the first month of it's starting to grow them. This is when the garlic gets it bulb multiplying energy.

Just so you know, wild garlic is every bit as edible as cultivated garlic. This assumes you aren't trying to kill it with chemicals, of course, as who would want to eat those ;-)

If you like garlic feel free to pull up as much as you want and use it in your cooking. Who knows, maybe you will get lucky and find a garlic fiend in your area who will come pull it all up as free for the taking! ;-)

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 11:51PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

Here is a link to a discussion on the lawn care forum concerning wild garlic/onion in lawns. It is a recent thread and none of the posts should be viewed as authoritative, but it is offered as an addititional source of information.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2006 at 1:40AM
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Can anyone give advice on how to get rid of rampant smelly wild garlic in the garden of our new house. We tried to dig it out but there is too much. We have tried putting down weed control matting and mulch but it grew through worse than ever. Help!

    Bookmark   November 7, 2006 at 5:09PM
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I have had the same problem with this pest. I have tried everything from digging them up to chemicals, etc. Short of declaring my lawn an onion patch I did a depth research and ran across a site There is a link "Kill Wild Onions, Garlic, and leeks" that offers a chemical that is designed specifically for ridding these "weed creatures". I don't know but I thought I would add my 2 cents.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2008 at 9:40PM
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Never, ever "scalp" a lawn because that simply weakens the grass that is growing there and allows more "weeds" space to grow. One of the simplest means of "weed" control is to cut your grass at the heighest setting you can because that will aid in shading the soil so "weed" seeds cannot get the sunlight many need to germinate and grow.
Wild Garlic and wild Onions grow in soils that are low in fertility and with a lower soil pH. So start your control program with a good, reliable soil test by contacting your local office of your state universities USDA Cooperative Extension Service and look into the soil you have to determine the level of organic matter, drainage, life (the Soil Food Web), tilth, and smell.
Correct the soil conditions that these plants prefer and they will stop growing.

Here is a link that might be useful: USDA CES offices

    Bookmark   March 20, 2008 at 6:41AM
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maupin(z6 So. IL)

I agree with kimmsr. YOur Ph will test low. When it does,, do a midsummer and a fall application of lime. You'll probably have to do this for a few years.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2008 at 12:03PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

We have a wild flower here that people call onions or garlic. Every couple of years I get some but it doesn't seem to return. I am sure to pluck or mow the flower heads before they go to seed. Other's around here get repeated patches of the plant many more each year. From what I understand, these plants here have an exploding seed. It shoots the seed out away from the plant.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2008 at 2:03AM
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My yard has fallen victim to either wild garlic or wild onion. I am not sure which is which but I will tell you that whatever they are....I hate them. I will not eat them and I can't stand to smell my hands after digging them up all day. I have tried everything short of blasting them with a hand grenade. Anyway, after some tedious research around the web I realized that I am not alone. I did however find 2 sites that may offer some assistance to those in the same shoes as I am. Might help. and


Here is a link that might be useful: Kill Wild Onions, Wild Garlic, and Wild Leeks

    Bookmark   April 2, 2008 at 9:12PM
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Spear7, this is an organic gardening forum and your solution is an unaccetable means of control to an organic gardener.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2008 at 7:16AM
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