It is safe to say that you might have already spotted little yellow flowers on your lawn if you are reading this. It could also be that you have kids searching for fluffy white puffballs in the yard. The chances are that you have dandelion growing and marring your lawn.
Dandelions are herbs that grow like weeds and can be a nightmare, especially when they pop up in unwanted areas. The name dandelion is derived from the French word “dent de lion,” meaning “lion’s tooth,”, referring to the fang-like or serrated leaves of the plant.
One puffy dandelion seed dispersed by the wind or kids is enough to wreak havoc in your perfectly manicured lawn. For this reason, the question of how to permanently destroy dandelions without damaging your lawn is often in many gardeners’ heads.
When Can You See Dandelions Growing on Lawns?
Understanding the growth pattern of dandelions is the first step of dealing with them. Dandelions are usually the first flowers seen in spring. This is, especially when the temperature is above 50F. However, you can spot dandelion seeds during the year in soil temperatures above 75F. In addition, these seeds are dormant in the winter season, but don’t let that convince you that you no longer have dandelions in your yard.
Can You Eat Dandelions?
Dandelion greens and petals can be harvested and eaten cooked or raw in a salad. This superfood is rich in Vitamins A, C, K. Other important nutrients contained in dandelions include iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. In addition, the yellow flowers are used in wine and stir-fry recipes, while the roots are steeped for tea because of their anti-aging and antioxidant properties. So it is no surprise that some people plant dandelions for their harvest.
Why Are Dandelions Hard To Get Rid Of?
Dandelions are in the family of weeds called broadleaf perennials. These weeds are difficult to remove. One fluffy seed can cause a dandelion infestation in your yard. As the dandelion weed grows, it sends a taproot down the ground up to 10 inches long. It is difficult to remove the root entirely because of its length. In addition, once established, dandelion plants can thrive and withstand unfavorable soil and weather conditions.
Although these herbaceous plants die in the winter, the roots live underground. When the spring season is back, the roots produce new shoots and the cycle contains. While dandelions are not toxic to you or your environment, they can be annoying to look at, hence rooting them out.
How To Get Rid Of Dandelions
1. Digging Them Out By Hand
Getting rid of dandelions means getting down to the root of the problem – literally. However, these roots can easily break when you are pulling them out. In addition, any pieces of the root left in the ground regenerate into a new plant. Therefore, you need to exercise caution and patience to kill dandelions.
Digging out dandelions by hand is convenient, especially if there are only a handful in your yard. However, you can opt to use a dandelion digger specialized in removing the entire taproot. Digger models range from handheld ones to ones on poles. Whichever you chose, make sure it is comfortable otherwise, it will not work for you.
Tips for Removing Dandelions by Hand
- Pull the dandelions as soon as they start to flower before they become seed heads.
- Water the ground to loosen the soil. This will make the weeds easy to remove, unlike in dry hard soil.
- Use a garden spade or a dandelion weeding knife to make an incision in the wet soil. Do this while wiggling the weeder to loosen the taproot.
- Pull the dandelion by gripping on its leaves until the taproot comes out. Make sure not to break it.
- If dandelion removal is still difficult, use the weeder till the soil is loose, then pull.
- Reseed the hole with turf grass seeds or patch it up with topsoil. This will prevent weeds from growing in that bare spot.
2. Using Herbicides to Kill Dandelions
There are two ways to go about using herbicides depending on the size of dandelion infestation. Spot treatment is suitable, especially if there is a moderate number of dandelion plants on your lawn. Pre-emergent herbicides such as RoundUp weed killer are used to treat the lawn before the weeds begin germinating. In addition, you may opt to use natural products such as acetic herbicidal vinegar or fatty acid soaps on your lawn to kill the weeds.
Chemical treatments are used as a last alternative to control large populations of dandelions. A broadleaf herbicide is used to kill dandelions because of their perennial nature. The fall months or early spring are the best time to apply the herbicide. This ensures that the chemical toxins travel with nutrients to the plant’s roots hence killing it. In addition, you may want to consider using environmental broadleaf weed killers that are iron-based.
Tips For Using A Broadleaf Herbicide To Kill The Entire Plant
- Carefully read the instructions completely before using the chemicals
- Read the herbicide’s label to ensure that it will not destroy your lawn or the grass
- Moisten the soil to allow the chemical weed killer to penetrate
- Use a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide if the dandelions have begun blooming
- Rake up dead dandelions and reseed the area a few days after chemical application. Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
How Can You Prevent Dandelions From Coming Back?
If all the taproots are not killed or removed, these pesky weeds can make a come back on your lawn. As such, lawn care is the best way to control these plants. A healthy and well-managed lawn will effectively compete against weeds, especially the perennial type.
Applying fertilizer to your lawn during the growing season will promote grass growth and, as a result, crowd out weeds. Mowing high protects the soil from exposure hence preventing weeds from germinating. In addition, mowing high promotes the growth of thick strands of grass.
Another way to control dandelions is to use pre-emergent chemicals before the seed heads germinate. This will greatly minimize the population since one fluffy seed is enough to cause an infestation. An organic alternative is using corn gluten to kill the seeds.