How to get rid of dandelions ?

So, you’ve worked hard and finally achieved that beautiful green lawn, either by planting grass seed or using sod. You really want to keep it that way for as long as you can, but then again, weeds in form of dandelions decide to invade your beautiful lawn. And all over a sudden, your green lawn is impeded with yellow flowers destroying your lawn’s curb appeal.

The good news is that you can completely get rid of these stubborn yet beautiful weeds using the different methods listed in this article.

How to get rid of dandelions ?

The only way to completely get rid of them is to kill them completely or prevent their growth by growing weed-resistant grass and ensuring that there aren’t any dandelions in the surrounding lawns or farms. Use this below methods to get rid of them.

  • Digging them up
  • Using boiled water mixed with vinegar
  • Using broadleaf and non-selective herbicides
  • Using pre-emergent herbicides
  • Mowing

About Dandelions

Dandelions are one of the most common plants found around the globe. Their beautiful flowers make it a favorite among young kids yet a nuisance in equal measure for homeowners and farmers.

Dandelions whose scientific name is Taraxacum officinale have many uses including health benefits – though some of them are not scientifically supported- and can even be added to other food mixes and salads for eating. Another interesting fact is that they can be used to make wines, honey and jelly.

In some parts of the world, they are used to cure inflammation because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative compounds found in them.

Caution should be taken though when using dandelion leaves as the mature leaves tend to be very bitter. Be sure to use them when they are still young if you want to enjoy the full taste of dandelions.

The issue with dandelions

While dandelions can be physically attractive and have many benefits to humans, they also present a lot of other challenges especially to individuals who own farms and lawns.

  • The thing about dandelions is that they can grow and survive in any soil type making it easier for them to grow anywhere around the globe.
  • Gardeners find them a nuisance destructing their beautiful lawns or interfering with their other crops.
  • Dandelions are perennial crops making it hard to get rid of them as they grow back on their own under the right conditions.
  • They take up water and nutrients meant for other growing crops.
  • Seeds from dried dandelions are usually blown away by wind, distributing them across the farms and lawns, hence making it difficult to control them. A single dandelion is thus very capable of producing several other dandelions.

Getting rid of dandelions

It can prove to be very challenging getting rid of dandelions because caution has to be taken not to affect the nearby or surrounding crops.

They also have very deep tap roots which can easily grow back if not taken out properly. During fall, they usually disappear because of the weather conditions, but grow right back in spring because of their deep tap roots.

Some people have tried to pull them out only for the crop to grow right back. This can be very frustrating.

And by the way, getting rid of dandelions in your lawn yet your neighbor’s lawn has them is a futile activity because they will grow right back from the seeds blown by wind from your neighbor’s lawn.

Also, ensuring that you remove them before they flower and produce seeds can be very helpful as this will ensure that you are only dealing with the existing plants and not the other potential plants that would have germinated from the dried seed blown by wind.

Dandelions usually go dormant during winter. This might fool some people that they are gone, only to sprout back during spring. So, timing is very important when you want to get rid of them.

Some other factors to consider before choosing the method for getting rid of dandelions include:

  • Whether the method is organic or inorganic
  • The durability and effectiveness of the method
  • Whether it is used before the seeds germinate or after they germinate
  • Whether the herbicide is granular or liquid
  • The quantity that will be used to kill or prevent the dandelions
  • Environmental and child safety
  • Temperature and weather conditions required

1.     Getting rid of dandelions organically

a.     Digging them up

This is the most common method used by homeowners or people with smaller spaces though it consumes a lot of time. When digging up dandelions or any other type of weed, you have to ensure that you remove the whole plant including the root.

Failure to remove the tap root will make the plant to sprout up again under the right conditions.

Digging up dandelions could be done using a weed knife or a dandelion puller.

The perfect time to use this method of removing weeds is immediately when you notice them in your lawn. At this stage, the roots are usually not very deep making it easier to dig them up.

Another good condition that would make it easy to remove them using this method is during the cold or rainy weather where the soil is very moist.

Before digging them up, you will need a weed knife or the dandelion puller and watering can.

Here’s how to dig up dandelions:

  • First, water the soil around the dandelion ensuring that it penetrates deep into the surface in order to make it moist and weak.
  • Work your weed knife down towards the root of the dandelion all around the crop while pulling the soil away.
  • Once you’ve dug deep enough, grasp the base of the crop and pull it up, checking whether it still sticks or not.
  • If the dandelion proves to be tough coming out, pour some water and dig a little deeper, then pull out the plant ensuring that the whole root comes out with it.
  • If you are using the dandelion puller, this method becomes a little bit easier since this tool is made specifically for this job. The dandelion puller pulls out the whole dandelion plant together with the tap root, doing a clean job to remove the weed.

b.     Using boiled water mixed with vinegar

Natural, home-made and cost-effective weed killers are always a welcome choice when it comes to getting rid of any type of weeds. This makes use of readily available materials around the household that are mostly environmental friendly.

When it comes to vinegar, there is the household type and the horticultural type. For the stubborn dandelions, consider using the horticultural type because it has a 20% concentration of acetic acid compared to household vinegar that has 5% concentration of acetic acid.

Acetic acid, which is the key ingredient in vinegar, works by killing the cell membranes that lead to the dehydration of the plant. The plant then ends drying up.

Using boiled water with the vinegar increases the concentration of acetic acid, hence making it stronger.

When using vinegar, ensure that you spray it directly to the leaves of the dandelion plant. Caution has to be taken to avoid spraying on the adjacent crops as vinegar kills any grass that it comes into contact with. To avoid this, you could use it as a pre-emergent herbicide.

Vinegar with a high concentration of acetic acid can permanently kill young dandelions, but when it comes to very mature plants with very well-established root systems, it only works by burning the leaves.

With vinegar, the dandelions start withering and discoloring within a few hours and then start dying up after 24 hours. To ensure that you get rid of dandelions using this method, uproot them immediately they dry up or die.

Vinegar is a preferred choice by many households because it is easily available and environmentally friendly.

2.     Getting rid of dandelions using herbicides

a.     Using broadleaf and non-selective herbicides

These could be used on areas where you previously dug up the dandelions in order to kill any root system that might have remained in the soil.

The big problem with many of the herbicides especially the non-selective ones is that they will kill any surrounding plants when they come in contact.

So, caution has to be taken such that you only put the herbicide inside the hole where you had removed the dandelion.

These kind of herbicides are good especially where the weeds are lumped up together like in farms, walkways and flower beds.

The best type to use are the broadleaf herbicides. These are suitable for killing broadleaf weeds, of which dandelions are part of. This ensures that the surrounding grass is spared and only the targeted weeds are killed.

There have also been concerns also about some type of weed killing chemicals posing health concerns for humans. Ensure that you read about the ingredients contained in the herbicide you are using. If you are not sure, consult a specialist to advise on the best type of herbicide to use that doesn’t pose any danger to humans’ health.

Also, check out what kind of herbicides are burned in your country so that you only go for those that are permitted.

b.     Using pre-emergent herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides are usually used for prevention purposes. They are usually sprayed in order to prevent the seeds from germinating. They work by killing off the root tissue of newly germinating seedlings preventing any further growth.

Pre-emergent herbicides do not work on weeds with already established roots.

To improve their efficacy, they should be sprayed in late winter.

Before you apply any pre-emergent, make sure that you clear the lawn of any debris.

Choose your preferred pre-emergent, whether it’s the granule-based or liquid-based.

Since pre-emergents are usually activated by water, ensure that you water your lawn within 21 days after their application.

Caution has to be taken when using chemicals to get rid of dandelions. The way chemicals work, they tend to kill any plant on its path regardless of whether they are weeds or not.

3.     Mowing

Mowing is a great method to prevent the further spread of dandelions. Since dandelions depend on the spread of their dry seeds to continue spreading the weeds further, cutting them off before they produce seeds could be very helpful to prevent their spread.

While mowing, ensure that you mow a high to ensure that you keep your grass thick and tall. Dandelions thrive well when there is direct sunlight. Thick and tall grass denies them this luxury hence chocking them out.

Keep the grass to a height of about two to three inches.

4.     Starting a new lawn

Sometimes all the above-named methods might fail and you get very frustrated. What about just starting over and having a new lawn?

This could take some time, but it will ensure that you take all the precautions necessary at the beginning to prevent the emergence of dandelions and other weeds.

When starting a new lawn, you have the option of going for either grass seed or sod. For either case, ensure that you pick the grass type that grows densely, is weed intolerant, and thrives well in your region. Bermuda grass, for example, is a nice dense grass that is weed intolerant.

While preparing your lawn, ensure that the soil is balanced from the start to ensure that you rid it off of the conditions that led to the growth of the weeds in the first place.

Maintaining your lawn to prevent the growth and spread of dandelions

You now have a healthy-looking lawn free of weeds and definitely happy after a really tough exercise of removing the dandelions.

Question is, what should I do in order to keep my lawn free from weeds or their spread now and in future?

Follow these tips:

  • Ensure that you continue watering your lawn as required depending on the season and type of grass planted. This ensures that the root establishment becomes better and the grass becomes dense leaving no room for weed growth.
  • Continue mowing your lawn to prevent further growth of dandelions. Since dandelions thrive on the spread of their seed, mowing ensures that there is no seed available to grow and spread.
  • Continue with the fertilizing schedule for your type of grass to provide the necessary nutrients for the optimal growth of your lawn grass.
  • Since dandelions thrive well in acidic soils, test your soil and adjust its PH in order to provide an environment that is unsuitable for their growth.
  • While maintaining your lawn, ensure that any bare patches are filled up either using grass seed or sod so that weeds don’t find a space to grow.

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