Getting Rid of Garlic Mustard

Well, there is one good thing about all this rain.  It’s making it easier for me to get rid of all the garlic mustard!  I live on a wooded lot, and for years we’ve left a good-sized portion of it “natural” –meaning we don’t do anything to it.  This definitely cuts down on lawn mowing.  But right about now — after having spent the last few days crawling through the woods (in my dorky green rain suit) pulling out entire crops of this very invasive weed, I’m wishing I had more to mow and less to pull!

You’ve probably already seen the articles in local papers about garlic mustard and had a chance to check out your own yard.  But just in case you haven’t, this may be helpful:

1) Garlic mustard is a biennial, which means it has a tw0-year life-cycle.  There are no flowers the first year, and the scalloped-edged leaves form a cluster 2-4 inches high.  The second year, the plant ranges from 12-48 inches high, with little white flowers and heart-shaped leaves. The distinct onion or garlic odor that the plant emits when crushed helps to distinguish the plant from other woodland plants.

2) Garlic mustard is a rapidly spreading woodland weed that can displace most native wildflower species within ten years.

3) Hand pulling, roots and all, is considered an effective method of eradication for minor infestations.  It is important that the pulled plants be bagged and removed from the area as the seeds remain viable for five years.

There are other removal options available, such as controlled burns; plus researchers are currently investigating the use of  biological controls.  Also, there is controversy over the use of  herbicides, as they may damage nearby desirable plants.  One website I found particularly helpful was from Michigan: