With their bright yellow flowers and jagged leaves, dandelions are some of the most recognizable lawn pests. Although most consider them a weed, dandelion was introduced to North America by European settlers who valued their nutritional and medicinal properties. Dandelion grows easily in many conditions but prefers direct sunlight and good drainage.
The best prevention against weeds like dandelion is a healthy lawn.
Mowing grass “high”, at a height of 2 to 3 inches helps the grass plants to remain healthy and vigorous. It also prevents weeds from getting as much sunlight as they need to grow.
Mulching your lawn with grass clippings is another way to nourish the lawn, while at the same time preventing weed seed from germinating. A healthy lawn care routine includes aerating and fertilizing during appropriate times of the year.
Finally, don’t leave any bare patches in your lawn. Take the opportunity in the fall to overseed any of these areas of your grass, as weeds will take advantage of bare spots to germinate and take over.
Mechanical weed control is the best option for our environment. Here are a few recommended tools.
Controlling dandelions with selective herbicides allow the dandelion to die and the grass to thrive. Here are a few recommended products:
Non-selective herbicides were designed to kill all actively growing vegetation. Here are a few organic options:
For dandelions that have already appeared in your lawn, there are several things to try.
First, you can pull them by hand. Dandelions are broadleaf perennials with a deep taproot that can reach anywhere from 10 inches to 3 feet in length. Before pulling the weeds, water your lawn to moisten the soil and help it loosen. For each plant, use a screwdriver or forked weeding tool to create a hole directly alongside the taproot. You can use the tool to wiggle and loosen the taproot, and give it a gentle tug to see if it will give. If it does, carefully pull the weed out, being sure to remove the entire taproot. Any piece of the taproot left in the soil will regenerate and create more dandelions. Do not allow dandelions to form puffballs and spread seed; cut off any flowers as they form to prevent them going to seed.
Another method is to spray dandelions to kill them. Possible applications are vinegar (*non-selective herbicide), Weed-B-Gone (active ingredient 2,4-D, Selective Herbicide), or Round-Up (active ingredient glyphosate, non-selective herbicide). The herbicidal element of vinegar is acetic acid, which is generally quite low in household vinegar–around 5%. Boiling it can help concentrate the acetic acid and give it more effectiveness. If you use any of these applications, it’s important to know when and how to apply them. Vinegar and Round-Up should both be applied directly to the leaves of the dandelion. They are non-selective and will kill any grass they touch. Weed-B-Gone specifically targets broadleaf plants, not affecting grass, which makes it a popular choice for lawns. Before applying, don’t mow for 2-3 days beforehand, to ensure the largest surface area for herbicide application. It’s best to wait for 2-3 days to mow after applying so that the dandelion leaves have time to absorb the herbicide. Fall is the best time to spray, as dandelion leaves are gathering nutrients to deliver to the taproot before overwintering in the ground. Applying herbicide at this time ensures that the leaves will carry the herbicide down to the roots right along with the nutrients, killing the whole plant.
*Non-selective Herbicides – Will kill all plant matter that the herbicide touches
*Selective Herbicides – will only kill the targeted plant / pest listed on the label
If you just can’t seem to kick your dandelion problem give us at All Green Pest Control a call!