Control Wild Onions & Wild Garlic in the Lawn

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As the weather starts to warm up in the spring, lawn weeds also start to appear. There are lots of them but none are any more dreaded than wild onion or garlic. These weeds are winter perennials. They come up in the late fall and grow through the winter and spring. Bulblets are formed in the late spring and the plant dies back in the summer. These bulblets, however, can last for several years in the lawn or garden.

To control wild onion or garlic, digging them with a trowel might be a suitable option if only a few plants are present. But, pulling by hand leaves bulblets in the ground to grow again. Contrary to popular belief, mowing does not get rid of these weeds although regular mowing can weaken the plants and prevent them from setting seeds.

A post-emergence herbicide is the key to control but it does take more than one application and more than one season to achieve total control. An herbicide containing 2,4-D should be applied in March and again in November. Because plants have a waxy exterior, a spreader sticker added to the spray will help the pesticide to adhere to the leaf. A couple of squirts of dishwashing liquid in the sprayer should do the trick. Another helpful tip is that mowing wild onion or garlic immediately before spraying will improve results. After the herbicide is applied, refrain from mowing for two weeks.

Timing, repeat applications and the correct herbicide are the keys to successfully controlling this familiar weed of the southern garden and lawn.

patch of wild onion or garlic in a lawn

Wild Garlic in Lawn Photo: Clemson University – Cooperative Extension