Wild garlic is a wonderful thing – it is one of the first edible plants to emerge in the spring, and the scent of it growing in the hedgerows is something else. However, it might not be the thing that you want growing in your flower beds! How to get rid of wild garlic in the garden? I’m glad you asked!
How To Get Rid Of Wild Garlic In The Garden UK?
Wild garlic is a native plant, which has been around for centuries. This is because it spreads and breeds really, really well!
It’s all very well to have this plant growing out and about – but when it is growing in your garden it can be a bit of a nuisance.
There are ways you can get rid of it in your garden, even once it has become well established.
It is much easier to get rid of wild garlic than something more invasive, such as Japanese Knotweed – however it is a tenacious plant!
You will have to keep an eye on where it is coming up for a few years, to make sure it is not returning.
- Using a fork or a spade, start a few inches away from the base of a plant. Stick the fork into the soil, as deep as it will go, and lever it towards you.
- Lift out the bulbs and roots of the wild garlic, shaking off the soil as you do so.
- Continue this all around the patch of wild garlic, until you have dug up all the bulbs.
- You may have to sift through the soil to get out the smallest bulbs, as this plant is very good at growing and will continue to sprout from even one bulb.
- Keep an eye on the patch in the following growing season, as there may be a few strays that you have missed.
- Repeat the digging the following year if you see more garlic poking its head up.
Is It Illegal To Dig Up Wild Garlic?
Although digging up the bulbs of wild garlic in the wild is, technically, illegal, digging up the roots in your own garden is not.
In the Wildlife and Countryside Act, it is considered illegal to dig up any plant by the roots, especially protected species.
The exception to this is if it is on your land, or you have the landowner’s permission. If wild garlic is causing you problems in your garden then you can dig it up. In fact, if you want to get rid of it entirely, this is the only way to do so!
If you are out foraging in the countryside and you spot some wild garlic, it may be tempting to dig some up and plant it at home so you always have a supply.
Bear in mind though, that this is illegal, and if you are spotted you could get into some trouble!
Stick to picking the leaves and flowers when you are out and about, and leave the rest of the plant safely in the ground.
Digging up wild plants can not only cause problems for the local wildlife, it can also bring the problems of spreading disease, so it is best avoided.
How Quickly Does Wild Garlic Spread?
Wild garlic spreads by underground bulbs, rather than spreading seeds about the place as many other plants do.
Because of this, it can quickly take over an area without you even noticing – when a plant mostly does its thing underground, it can be hard to spot what it is doing above the ground before it has taken over your garden!
The bulbs of wild garlic can remain in the ground for a very long time, so even if you dig it up you will have to keep an eye on the area to ensure it doesn’t return.
If you dispose of your wild garlic onto your compost heap, you may very well be surprised by a clump of wild garlic popping up in your compost!
Wild garlic is a prolific spreader, and it is very good at keeping itself alive and spreading further, even into places it shouldn’t really be.
This is great for foragers and those that love that mild garlicky wild leaf – not so ideal for those who are trying to rid their garden of it!
What Plant Can Be Mistaken For Wild Garlic?
Wild garlic is a mild version of the garlic bulbs that we know and love. Its leaves can be used in cooking, pickling and fermenting, with great results!
However, wild garlic foraging can come with dangers. There are a couple of plants whose leaves mimic wild garlic so well that you would be wise to get a book to identify which plant is which…
Lily of The Valley, although it makes a delightful perfume, is a highly poisonous plant. It looks strikingly similar to wild garlic, so you would be well advised to work out the differences before you go picking.
- Wild garlic’s leaves are formed from the base of the plant, while Lily of The Valley has a few leaves further up the stem.
- Wild garlic flowers are shaped like stars, whereas the lily has little bell shaped blooms.
- The smell from wild garlic is like no other – it is a distinctly garlicky smell. Lily will be more floral.
Lords and ladies is another plant whose leaves look similar to wild garlic. It is not quite so poisonous as Lily of the Valley, but it can cause a nasty reaction if you put it in your mouth.
Always check for that tell tale garlic smell before you pick anything you think is wild garlic.
Here is a useful video to help you identify what NOT to pick when looking for wild garlic:
Hopefully this article has armed you with some facts about wild garlic, and what you can do to remove it from your garden if you don’t want it there.
Some people might be happy with a pile of wild garlic taking over the lawn – if you are not one of these people then we hope you can use our advice above to help you deal with it.
Trying to get rid of something else in your garden? Here’s my guide to hogweed.