While children may adore yellow dandelion flowers and their fluffy seed puffs, homeowners and gardeners aren’t the biggest fans.
The presence of dandelions is not a good thing because those plants are squeezing out air, water, and other nutrients from your established plants. It is no wonder many homeowners and gardeners ask how to get rid of dandelions and stop them from coming back.
The experts from Yard Smart share their wisdom on how to get rid of these common intruders by following a simple routine.
Dandelion: What Is It and Where Does It Come From?
Dandelion, or taraxacum officinale, is a common lawn infiltrator that blooms in spring and fall. The name comes from the French word dent de lion, or lion’s tooth, describing the jagged leaves.
The popular perennial survivor can grow in tropical areas and in cold regions, so it can be found in all states in the United States and all provinces in Canada. You may see dandelions blossom when the soil temperature is around 70F. When the weather is warmer, these invaders germinate more quickly, but, in general, nothing stops them from growing. In addition, they are resistant to most lawn diseases, they thrive in poor soil environments, and they tolerate most pests.
Dandelions come from Asia and Europe, where they are used for medicinal purposes. They are edible, from root to flower, and have a bitter flavor. Some homeowners choose to harvest these plants to add to recipes or to spice salads. If you want to try, make sure the dandelions haven’t been treated with herbicides or fertilizers.
Why Are Dandelions So Stubborn in Nature?
Did you know that one dandelion is enough to invade your lawn? Yes, you heard that right. Just give it time.
When compared to other weeds, dandelions are the most difficult to control. The reason they are so stubborn is that they are built to withstand any temperature or condition. Their anatomy makes them an intimidating rival – difficult to prevent or destroy. Dandelions produce lots of seeds, with cross-fertilization from other flowers. There are 50 to 170 seeds on one flower head, and each one can produce more than 5,000 seeds a year.
Dandelions grow deep into the ground, sending strong roots to six to 18 inches in depth. By the time you see those golden flowers, the plants are fully grown. Well-established dandelions can live for up to 13 years.
How to Get Rid of Dandelions?
Several methods have proven to be effective in controlling dandelions. Due to dandelions’ invasive nature and stubborn character, you must perform all removal methods every year to ensure your lawn is free of weeds.
Dig Them Out
Hand digging is one of the most effective but most time-consuming solutions for removing dandelions from your yard. Hand digging is most effective when done in early spring when the first dandelion flowers appear. You can also use specialized dandelion pullers or other tools to speed up the hand digging process.
When hand digging the yellow intruders, it is important to remove the entire taproot, which can run deep into the ground. Pull until you see the dandelion’s roots. Because the plants are highly invasive, don’t expect to kill every dandelion in your lawn during the first round. Repeat the method for a few days, and after that, you may say that your garden is free of dandelions and other weeds.
Treat Your Lawn with Herbicides
You can use two types of herbicides to get rid of dandelions: selective broadleaf and non-selective herbicide. The selective one will kill only the weeds, in this case, the dandelions. It is an effective solution, but you have to be careful when applying so that you do not kill the rest of your plants and grass.
The non-selective herbicide can destroy the turf and kill any plant that it comes in contact with. Non-selective herbicides are highly effective for spot dandelion removal, killing dandelions in walkways or weeds in flower beds.
If you decide to use herbicides to get rid of dandelions in your lawn, apply the chemicals before the weeds have grown flowers in early spring. Once dandelions develop flowers, they are more resistant to herbicides and other solutions. You may still apply a non-selective or selective herbicide, but there is no guarantee that it will work.
Use Pre-Emergent Chemical
A pre-emergent is a highly effective chemical when used for the right purpose and at the proper application rate. Homeowners and gardeners apply it on flowerbeds or yards to prevent weed seeds from sprouting and growing.
When using a pre-emergent to get rid of dandelions, you must apply it in late winter. The product will prevent new seeds from germinating and will be effective only before the dandelions have had a chance to sprout.
Apply Homemade Weed Killers
If you don’t want to use pre-emergent solutions or herbicides, don’t worry. There are many eco-friendly options to consider, including boiling water, salt, and vinegar. Some gardeners even swear by cornmeal a way to keep weed seeds from sprouting. Here is one homemade recipe to try: 1 gallon of vinegar, 1 cup of salt, and 1 tablespoon of liquid dish soap.
The acetic acid in the white vinegar works with the salt to draw moisture from dandelions. Dish soap acts as a surfactant, which helps the mixture stick to the plant. Combine the ingredients and fill your sprayer. On a sunny day, spray the dandelions and wait a couple of hours for the plants to start to turn brown and wither. The only disadvantage is that this formula isn’t as effective as herbicides, meaning it can’t work its way into the roots. If your lawn is invaded by several dandelions, you’ll need to repeat the process until you are satisfied with the results.
Whether you choose pre-emergent, herbicides, homemade solutions, or good ol’ hand digging, remember that you need to react as soon as possible. Today, you may see one dandelion, but next week, there could be 20. Once the fluffy seed heads show up, select the best option for your turf and lawn, and get rid of dandelions for good.
Preventative Dandelion Control: Tips to Follow
Establishing a healthy lawn is the best method to control dandelions. If managed right, your turf can compete against any kind of weed or disease, eliminating the need for time-consuming or burdensome dandelion removal.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your dandelion invasion under control:
- Maintain a strong, thick, and healthy lawn – When maintaining your lawn, make sure you develop proper habits: Do not mow the grass too short during summer and fall months, do make fertilization a part of the maintenance routine, and do water daily.
- Keep the soil loose – Soil compaction can sometimes be the cause for weed overgrowth. To solve the problem with soil compaction, consider aeration. Lawn aeration will help you get rid of surface thatch and break up compacted soil so your turf can grow stronger and thicker.
- Leave grass clippings – When you mow, leave the turf at the height of 2-3 inches to create protection. Your grass will still get its nutrients while keeping weeds from getting the light and food they need.
Now that you know how to get rid of dandelions in the lawn, it is time to take precautions and dispose of weeds. If you’ve already tried some of these solutions, but none of them worked, it is time to call the experts at Yard Smart at (647) 696-6168.
We have the expertise, know the right approach, and use leading-edge tools to help you control and suppress dandelion weeds. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.