Dandelions look like innocuous yellow flowers, but they can take over a lawn with a vengeance. Consult this quick guide to help you decide what to do about dandelions on your property.
Though part of the daisy family, dandelions are classed as a weed for the fact that they grow like–well–weeds! The seeds of this broadleaf perennial spread far and wide because they are easily carried by the wind. They can also germinate in poor soil conditions where other plants don’t thrive. Once they take root, dandelions come back year after year. If you spot the telltale yellow heads on your lawn, then here are some suggestions for how to deal with them.
Some people argue that dandelions should be left alone. They provide an excellent food source for pollinators like bees and butterflies, and their leaves are high in vitamins and good in salads. If you don’t mind a few dandelion patches or if they are relegated to your backyard, then you might consider simply letting them be.
Of course, there are many reasons why you can’t just leave dandelions alone. Perhaps they have spread way too far and wide, choking out your grass and other plants. Or maybe you don’t want to be the only lawn on the block with a dandelion problem. In that case…
Dig Them Out
Digging dandelions by hand can be a time-consuming task, but it is effective if done right. The trick is to completely remove the plant’s long taproot, which can grow back again if left behind. Use a quality weeding tool made out of steel so that it won’t bend out of shape while you work. Insert the tool into the soil along the root extending down from the middle of the plant and move it around to loosen the soil, then pull the dandelion out. Weeding can be easier when the soil is wet, so moisten it with a watering can or simply wait until after it rains.
If the job is too big, consider calling a lawn care company or…
Use a Broadleaf Herbicide
For an infestation that’s gone too far and that would take you all summer to dig up by hand, you may need to turn to a chemical solution. Luckily, broadleaf herbicides are effective and some can produce results in just hours. These products will kill the entire dandelion without harming your grass. Be sure to read the label to check that the product is compatible with your grass type and to note any warnings about keeping children or pets off the lawn.
The following winter, you can also apply a pre-emergent herbicide to your lawn to stop any new seeds from germinating.
Practice Good Lawn Care
Once your battle with the weeds is done, take some steps to keep future invasions at bay. Make sure your lawn is healthy, with robust grass that doesn’t leave extra room or nutrients for dandelions. Watering frequently will help encourage a deep root system. If you’re worried about saving water, consider using rain barrels! A good fertilizer will also help your grass grow strong.
Dealing with dandelions can take some time and effort but, once you get a handle on them, they will be easier to stay on top of. You might even be okay with leaving a small patch for the pollinators.