Wild Onions are Coming Up. Best Product/When to Use?

ntl1991(6)February 22, 2011

Hello there,

My yearly yard pain (Wild Onions) is coming back already... This time, I'm not going to waste my time trying to dig them up or using boiling water, or what not... It's just too much, even with my tiny 6,000 square foot yard...

Last year was the first year I actually had the time to sit down and "treat" my lawn, as compared to just regular mowings... During the end of summer/beginning of fall, I dethatched, fertilized and reseeded the yard. I had grubs and the skunks were tearing up the new grass, so I used GrubEx (it was probably too late in the season, though, to do much good).

I also had lots of crabgrass, so I will be applying pre-emergent crabgrass control when the temp hits 60 or so...

I will be reseeding and fertilizing again this spring, but I'd like to know what to do with the wild onions that are already popping up around the yard. (at least the parts that aren't still covered with snow)

My question is, when and what type of broad-leaf weed control should I be using to kill the wild onions when I will also be GrubEx-ing, using the Crabgrass control, fertilizing and reseeding? Should I use granular or liquid weed control?

What is the correct order for doing these things? When should they be done?

Just for some visual stimulation:

Yard Before Treatment:

Yard After Treatment:

Thank You,


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As we can see, your past efforts are paying off. Your lawn looks thicker, healthier, and more attractive. You can treat your lawn with any product that contains a three-way herbicide combination of 2,4-D; MCPP; and dicamba. These are products that will need to be sprayed on the weeds; there is no granular formulation. These products are offered by the big box warehouse stores in their lawn/garden section, or your local farm/garden store. It will be called something like Spectracide, Ortho, or Bayer. Be sure the active ingredient on the label includes those three ingredients. You will also need a non-ionic surfactant or spreader/sticker. This will ensure that when you spray the product on the weeds, it will stay on the weed and not wash off. The product itself may already contain the surfactant or sticker in it, or you may have to add it to the spray tank when you mix in your herbicide. Pick a time in the next 2-3 weeks when your snow is melted, and you will have several nice days in a row. That is when you will want to apply the three-way herbicide. Follow the directions on the label!!!

If you are going to use pre-emerge crabgrass control, then you will not be able to re-seed your lawn this spring. The seed will not come up with a pre-emerge herbicide barrier in place. Actually, re-seeding your lawn is more effective when done in the late summer/early fall time frame. Use the crabgrass control this spring, and use a product that is combined with fertilizer. You'll knock out two chores at once. I would recommend a product that includes Dimension (dithiopyr) herbicide. This product will be applied at half of the recommended full rate, 60 days apart. I am less inclined to use a product that contains pendimethalin because of the more severe root pruning it causes. In summary, and to answer your questions above, order of things to do:

1. Spray Wild Onions
2. Apply granular pre-emerge/fertilizer combination
3. Re-seed lawn in late summer/early fall

I hope some other posters will add their comments here as well because there are other things you need to do to promote and develop your attractive lawn (watering deep/infrequent, mulch mow at highest setting, more fertilizer, etc.)

Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 9:52AM
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Based on the pictures - why do you need to reseed? Is it a pure fescue or rye lawn?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2011 at 11:52AM
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Hello. Thanks for the great information!

It'll really be nice to get the grass looking it's best. The dying "junk tree" in the corner will be coming down, and I'll be tearing down the concrete wall and putting up a nice 6' stockade fence (with metal poles; the best way to go, IMO). In the corner where the wall is, there's a concrete foundation of an old stone shed; I will be putting a shed there for the lawn care items to free up the 2nd garage stall. My tenants deserve more parking... The last thing I'd like to do is wrap a deck around the sunroom. Just enough for a good-sized table, the grilles, etc.

In the middle of the stone wall, there's another (weirdly placed) concrete slab. To the left of it is where my garden is. I'll be building a better vegetable garden this year, too, with raised beds and watering pipes, and whatnot...

I was REALLY depressed after de-thatching the grass; my yard had brown strips all over, and I could see the soil in some spots, even ant hills... I thought I did more damage than good. But, after reseeding, applying the fertilizer and Epsom salt mixture, and watering every single day for a few hours, (I've never once fertilized or watered the grass before!), everything turned out beautifully.

I think I had it set in my mind to reseed just because I figured seeding twice would be better to get nice, thick turf... Perhaps it won't be necessary.

The grass seed I use is University of Rhode Island Number Two Improved. It's a mixture of Kentucky Blue, Creeping Red Fescue, and Chewing Fescue.

A couple questions. When mowing, what is the best method: Mulching and Discharge, or bagging the clippings? I've never had a bag for my old Cub Cadet mower, so, since I've owned the house, about 14 years now, I've always used the mulching blade and side discharge. I think this helped cause the thatching problem... Before reseeding the grass, however, a neighbor threw away a little 2-year old mower that they used twice... It has a bag, so since I've reseeded , I've been collecting the clippings. What's the best method?

Also, what's the best watering schedule for "normal" times, ie. when not seeding? I know morning time is the best, but how often should one water their lawn?

Hopefully, after everything is done, the grass will look even better this year than it did last fall.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2011 at 3:00PM
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I've applied Bayer Weed Killer for Lawns, which includes Dicamba, 2,4-D, and MCPP. I sprayed the front lawn about two weeks ago, and the back yard yesterday. I haven't seen any effect with the front yard. I have thick wild onion patches popping up everywhere in the grass. The back yard, while I only treated it yesterday, only has a handful of wild onion patches over the whole yard, so I'm not as concerned.

How long does it take for this type of product to work? After I sprayed the front yard, we got a bit of a cold spell, so I think that is what's stifling the effect of the herbicide. According to my research these three chemicals work by making the weeks grow unnaturally fast, which eventually kills them. So, I would assume that there would need to be proper temperatures and sunlight to allow them to grow fast enough to die.

Also, When should I be putting down my granular Grub killer? It's not the 24-hour type, but season-long control.


    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 9:09PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

Here is basic lawn care 101

  1. Water deeply and infrequently. Deeply means at least an hour in every zone, all at once. Infrequently means monthly during the cool months and no more than weekly during the hottest part of summer. If your grass looks dry before the month/week is up, water longer next time. Deep watering grows deep, drought resistant roots. Infrequent watering allows the top layer of soil to dry completely which kills off many shallow rooted weeds.

  1. Mulch mow at the highest setting on your mower. Most grasses are the most dense when mowed tall. Bermuda, centipede, and bent grasses are the most dense when mowed at the lowest setting on your mower. Dense grass shades out weeds and uses less water when tall. Dense grass feeds the deep roots you're developing in 1 above.
  1. Fertilize regularly. I fertilize 4 times per year using organic fertilizer. Which fertilizer you use is much less important than numbers 1 and 2 above.

This is the combined wisdom of years of people writing in to Internet forums. It has been tuned up over the ages. You will find that it disagrees with much of the wisdom you find written in books and magazine articles. Even some websites disagree, but years and years of homeowners success and failures makes me think these basic elements work.

For your grass, mulch mow at about 3 inches. Watering too frequently is a fast way to create thatch in Kentucky bluegrass. Fertilize once after your second mowing in the spring. If you are more of a nut you can fertilize again about Memorial Day. Fertilize again on Labor Day and again on Thanksgiving. These fall applications are the important ones. If you miss the spring apps, you haven't really hurt anything. If you miss the fall apps, then you start getting issues in the spring. Late green up is the primary issue. People want to seed again in the spring which brings on the summer weeds. Problems ensue.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 10:22PM
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For what it's worth, I too have this very pesky weed. (Oh how I hate the smell !!) I'm finding the only way to get rid if it is to keep putting the weed under constant stress. It will take a couple of applications of a three-way herbicide that contains 2,4-D; MCPP; and dicamba before they will be under control. Plus you will probably need to mow the yard short a few times so the leaves stay short and you scratch up the waxy surface on the leaves.

Basically, your goal is to deny the plant from producing chlorophyll with the use of chemicals and exhaust the bulb by constantly trying to get the plant to grow new leaves. Whatever you do, don't let the plant flower. Its seeds will make your entire efforts mean nothing next year.

I have been attaching these thins since February and almost all of them are a very pale yellow or a pure white. Tomorrow at daybreak I will be in the yard pulling any of them out that I think are still growing.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2011 at 11:07PM
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Thanks for the replies.

I have applied the weed control twice, and while the back yard still only has a handful of wild onion bunches, the front yard (which was newly seeded last fall) is becoming more and more infested with dark green bunches of wild onion.

The weather here has been pretty constant for the past four or five weeks, a high of around 40-45 degrees during the day, and many cloudy days.

Is the sun a crucial part of allowing the herbicides to work in the weed control? Also, the grass is still coming out of dormancy, and is not ready for a mowing yet. Should I be digging out these wild onions or scalping them with the weed wacker?

After doing some research, it seems as though the hormones in the weed control force the plants to grow unnaturally quickly, and they soon outgrow their intake of nutrients. If this is true, how much longer will these wild onions keep growing before they die?

Also, I forgot to post a before and after of the front yard. (I should be calling it "small plots of grass in the front of my house" rather than a "front yard")

The flower beds, which were emptied in preparation for using the week killer, are still filled with wild onion, and it's spread mainly to the plot of grass on the left. Almost 50% of the left plot is dark green wild onion bunches. (I will take a picture tomorrow of the onions)




    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 9:06PM
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dchall_san_antonio(8 San Antonio)

That's not a front yard. You have three hell strips.

Most weeds die in a week if they are healthy enough. You might wait until 2 weeks after you fertilize to spray.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 10:29PM
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I spent a few hours today digging out the wild onions patches in the back yard, but I didn't even touch the front. I'm just going to let the chemicals do their thing, and perhaps spray again in a month or so... I don't know what to do. They're everywhere!


    Bookmark   March 27, 2011 at 3:53PM
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I'm having this same issue, did you ever find a good solution? Last year I just pulled up some of them and mowed over the rest, but this year they are everywhere, including the flower beds.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2012 at 1:57PM
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Pull them up and don't let them flower. Put fertilzer on your yard that build turf! It will choke out the onions. :)

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Gardening Forum

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 10:07AM
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