How to Identify, Get Rid Of and Prevent Dandelions In Your Lawn
Dandelions can grow in poor soil conditions and survive periods of drought and can quickly overtake your yard, preventing water and nutrients from reaching your grass and landscaping plants.
Dandelion pollen is a common trigger for people with allergies as dandelions produce around 2,500 seeds each year.
There are no local bylaws that prohibit dandelions on a property, so you get to decide how to handle them. This article offers helpful information about dandelions, natural and chemical ways to control them, and tips to prevent them from coming back.
How to Identify Dandelions
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) can grow near the ground or stretch out as high as 70 cm. The strong taproot, the central root of the dandelion, extends 60 cm into the ground. The dandelion’s green stem holds a natural latex that oozes out if broken. A bright yellow flower head, up to 5 cm in diameter, sits atop the stem.
By the time you see their yellow flowers, dandelions have already done most of the work to become firmly established in your yard. The weeds usually appear in the springtime, but another round may show up in the fall. Their sturdy taproots survive through the winter months, so they can flower every spring for 5 – 10 years.
Getting Rid of Dandelions
Fall is usually the best time for dandelion control because it’s when they pull nutrients down to the taproot. They will pull down the herbicide, too.
The fastest way to kill the dandelions in your yard is by spraying them with herbicides, such as weed control spray products (Restricted use. Check provincial and municipal regulations.). Products like these kill 50+ different types of weeds, including dandelions, ragweed, and clover, without harming your lawn.
Here are a few tips on how to manage spray products to get the best results:
- Apply the product when the forecast looks sunny for the week. This gives the herbicide time to dry and control the dandelions.
- Wear protective gloves and clothing when you apply the herbicide. Carefully follow the directions and safety instructions on the product label.
- Do not water your lawn for several days.
- Once the dandelions are dead, pull them out of your yard.
- Three or more days after you apply the herbicide, reseed your lawn.
Getting Rid of Dandelions Naturally
The best natural way to kill dandelions is digging them up by hand, which requires a healthy amount of effort and patience.
The key to success is taking out the entire taproot. If you leave any of it behind, it will grow back.
- Spring is the best time to dig up dandelions.
- Watering the soil before pulling dandelions will make it easier to get them out.
- You can use a tool explicitly designed to pull up the taproot. Search for “dandelion pullers” online. You can also use a garden spade, weeding knife, or pitchfork.
- Whatever tool you use, dig into the ground next to the dandelion, wiggle the tool to loosen the taproot, then pull the whole dandelion out of the ground.
- If the dandelion doesn’t come out easily, dig into the soil around the entire plant and try again.
- After pulling the dandelion out, some people apply a natural or pre-emergent herbicide where the dandelion was to make sure they kill the entire taproot.
- It only takes a small leftover piece to grow into a dandelion, so you may have to repeat the process every few weeks to get them all. Be persistent!
- Reseed the area so grass can grow in its place.
Preventing Dandelions From Coming Back
Once you kill off the dandelions, you want to prevent them from coming back. Due to their deep roots which can go 2-3 feet deep into the ground, dandelions come back when you least expect it. Learn how to prevent dandelions from coming back with these two recommendations.
Use Corn Gluten Meal
Corn gluten meal is a natural way to prevent seeds from germinating. Apply it to your yard in the spring and fall, but do not do it at the same time you overseed your yard. (Corn gluten meal keeps grass seeds from germinating, too.)
Here are a few more tips for applying corn gluten for dandelion prevention.
- Choose a product that is 100% corn gluten
- Look for pellet form for easy application
- Apply on a day when rain is in the forecast within the next two days
- Make sure the soil is moist by watering the yard or waiting for a rainy day
- Use your broadcast, rotary, or drop spreader to apply the corn gluten
- Push the spreader in rows no more than 1.5 metres apart to ensure an overlap
Continue to Maintain Your Lawn
When the grass in your yard is thick and lush, there is no room for dandelions to creep in. Make sure your grass gets 2.5 cm of water each week. (Find more lawn watering tips here.)
- Apply a weed-and-feed lawn food products help your lawn withstand the stress of weeds, pests, and drought.
- When you mow, cut no more than one-third of the blade.