Q. How do I get rid of wild onion and wild garlic growing in my lawn?
Unfortunately, there is no easy way to eliminate these weeds from a lawn. This is because they grow from bulbs and bulblets that break apart easily when lifted, leaving some of the bulbs and roots behind to re-grow.
Try digging up as many of the bulbs as possible. Do not pull them up by the leaves--that will leave most of the bulbs behind. Re-seed any bare area with a seed mix appropriate to your conditions (sun or part-shade). Repeat as necessary. Mowing the lawn frequently in winter will help to control the weeds but won't eliminate them.
Maintaining a healthy lawn is important in discouraging weeds. Keep the grass cover thick by re-seeding in the spring. Feed the lawn frequently with compost and occasionally with organic fertilizer. Water in dry periods, infrequently but deeply. Set your mower high (2–3 inches).
If the weed infestation is severe, it may be necessary to completely re-make the lawn. Unfortunately, without using herbicides this is a long term project. The best method is to “solarize” the lawn. Solarization is best done in the hottest part of the year.
To solarize, clear the lawn of any sticks and stones and then mow it as close to the ground as possible. Water the area and cover it with a clear, 2-4-mm-thick, polyethylene or polyvinyl chloride tarp. Bury the edges of the sheet and secure the sheet all the way around with bricks or stones. Leave the tarp in place for 4-6 weeks (the longer the better). The soil will heat up to about 120°F and most pests and weeds without deep roots will be killed. The lawn can be re-seeded in the early fall or, if you are not in a hurry, the tarp can be left in place until the next spring.
A smaller area of lawn can also be killed by covering the ground with sheets of cardboard or paper and then a layer of mulch or soil, but this process takes longer to be effective.
More on lawn care:
If you are interested in organic lawn care techniques, consult this organic lawn care plan.
For tips on a variety of gardening topics, see our Plant Information Guides.
- Courtesy of NYBG Plant Information Service