Every year, those cheery-looking yellow flowers emerge on your lawn with their innocent smiling faces looking up at you and demanding food. But don’t let dandelions fool you!
It won’t take long for the bright golden flowers to push out your grass and other plants by sapping water and nutrients away from your beloved shrubs. A little while later, the yellow flowers mature into white puffballs, and once they’re released to the wind, the fluffy seeds will bring yet more dandelions to your lawn.
For most of us, dandelions have become a vicious circle of frustration, but all hope is not lost. In this article, I will explain how to get rid of dandelions once and for all, so you can protect your garden from these invasive weeds-dressed-as-flowers.
How To Get Rid Of Dandelions
There are two schools of thought on how to handle dandelion in your lawn or around your backyard.
- Use a dandelion weed killer
- Use a hand tool such as a dandelion puller
Everyone has a good reason for their own preferences. If you have children, or pets or simply wish to keep your garden 100% free from chemicals, then a weeding tool or dandelion puller will be the best option. So I suggest you read this article Best Dandelion Removal Tools and Weed Pullers.
For the remainder of this discussion, I will be focusing on dandelion weed killers, as a practical way of tackling large-scale dandelion infestation on lawns or across your backyard borders.
How To Kill Dandelions With Weed Killer
There are two basic types of dandelion weed killers:
A selective broadleaf herbicide will target broadleaf weeds, i.e. dandelions. This type of herbicide is perfect for use on lawns, as it won’t damage the grass or other surrounding ornamental plants.
The second type of weed killer is a non-selective herbicide, which means it will kill any plant it comes into contact with. While this is another effective weed killer treatment for dandelions, it’s best used in walkways and flower beds only. Otherwise, you’ll risk killing your green, lush grass, and other plants within your lawn such as bulbs or meadow flowers.
So depending on the area you are treating be sure you check the manufacturer’s label and purchase the right product or you will be seriously disappointed with the results.
How To Apply Dandelion Weed Killer
When it comes to applying weed killers the two approaches are to spread a dry formula or spray a diluted concentrate. Both have their merits so let’s take a brief look at how to apply each of them and what they bring as benefits.
A granular dandelion weed treatment is perfect for larger areas of lawn. It provides a great option for broadcasting the treatment with a drop spreader, which cuts down on application time and significantly improves the accuracy of the dose and coverage per square yard.
Granules dissolve in contact with water, so need to be applied over damp ground or prior to rainfall. Alternatively, some products respond well to watering-in with a hose pipe.
Check the manufacturer’s instructions as the soaking routine, can significantly change the effectiveness of the product.
Spray directly onto the dandelion by holding the spray nozzle close to the weed. Take care not to spray the chemical onto your tender plants. The two spray products I have recommended below are selective, so they will not harm your lawn or surrounding plants if used in the right way. However, be sure to read the manufacturer’s label to check if the product you are using is likely to damage surrounding vegetation or plants.
I like to use a backpack sprayer when spraying relatively large areas such as a lawn or overgrown areas of the backyard, making the job much easier.
Best Time to Spray Dandelions
Each manufacturer will have its own guidelines, but as a rule of thumb as soon as the dandelions are in their early vegetative state I would spray. If your intention is a go for a pre-emergent type approach then personally, I would recommend a granular product that you can put down in spring just as the weeds start to show.
Best Dandelion Killers Reviews
I’ve used most of the top products on the market while working out how to kill dandelion, some are great some just downright bad. Here’s my shortlist of the best dandelion killer that I am confident to recommend you try.
My main considerations are the quality of the treatment, visual end results, and ease of use. As well as my own tests and expert opinions of my colleagues, I also take into account customer reviews across many major online platforms and growers forums to demonstrate the overall customer satisfaction with the products I have reviewed.
I have listed the best dandelion killers available in liquid concentrate and granular form, plus a couple of really good back-up options just in case you struggle to get your hands on my top picks.
It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Scotts product range and the Turf Builder Weed & Feed is no different. When it comes to performance and no-fuss results, this is my number one choice for dandelions or clover. You can cover a large area in no time at all using a granule broadcaster, and trust me it will do a great job in getting rid of dandelions.
Turf Builder is a selective herbicide designed to treat dandelion and clover. It also includes a high nitrogen fertilizer to feed your lawn and create a more lush, thicker grass which in itself will help your lawn out-compete all types of weed infestation. Use it on Bermuda, Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, Centipede, Ryegrass, and Zoysia or Bahiagrass.
I strongly recommend watering your lawn as per the manufacturer’s instruction or using this treatment directly after rainfall. It will give you great results, compared to a dry application. Don’t be tempted to water again after applying the treatment. You’ll get great results if you apply this treatment in spring, but I often apply it twice a year for a great-looking lawn.
How To Use: First off, water your lawn or apply this treatment after rain. Pour the granules into a push or hand-held spreader. Begin at the edge of your lawn and work your way around the outer perimeter of the lawn. Then follow an up and down pattern across the remaining area to make sure you treat all areas of the grass. Avoid using mid-summer during very hot weather, as this contains fertilizer, and you could risk fertilizer burn.
Pick up Scotts WeedClear at Amazon
- Easy to apply over large areas with a broadcaster or drop spreader
- Contains dandelion killer and nitrogen fertilizer
- Use it on Bermuda, Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, Centipede, Ryegrass, and Zoysia or Bahiagrass
- For use in Spring and Autumn, choose Preen Lawn Weed Control midsummer
Ortho Weed B Gone Weed & Dandelion killer is for use on lawn and grass with a ‘no harm’ guarantee. Their formula contains three base ingredients to create a powerful fast-acting weed killing that is safe to use across a broad range of grass types including Bermudagrass, Buffalograss, Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Zoysiagrass.
This product range offers four different types of application, a Trigger Spray Bottle, Comfort Wand, Handy Ready To Spray, or a Concentrate for use with a tank or backpack sprayer. A product of this type is ideal for using as a Comfort Wand or Ready To Spray application for convenience.
How To Use: Spray the dandelion killer directly onto the weed, allow the plant to absorb the liquid through its leaves. The killing agent works its way down to the roots of the week to destroy it. This fast-acting dandelion killer is rain-proof within 1 hour of spraying.
This product requires contact with the weed itself, not the soil. In my experience, it takes around 10 days to see a clear sign of the dandelions being destroyed. I would estimate around 90% of the plants were killed with the first application. Check the price here at Amazon
- Kills dandelion, chickweed, clover, dollarweed, and thistle
- Does not harm your lawn
- Use on grasses, including Bermudagrass, Buffalograss, Fescues, Kentucky Bluegrass, Ryegrass, and Zoysiagrass
- Must be used on a still day or risk the wind carrying the spray onto nearby plants
Roundup For Lawns is another great product worthy of a mention. This version is bottled with Comfort Wand for ease of use and perfect for smaller targeted application.
Suitable for use on Northern grasses, including Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fescue, bermudagrass, buffalograss, and zoysiagrass, and rainproof within 3 hours after treatment. I’m sure many of you will be familiar with the brand RoundUp and their product gets the job done.
Check the latest price of RoundUp for Lawns on Amazon
- Kills crabgrass, dandelion, clover, and yellow nutsedge
- Does not harm your lawn, rainproof within 3 hours
- For use on Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, fescue, bermudagrass, buffalograss, and zoysiagrass
- Must be used on a still day or risk the wind carrying the spray onto nearby plants
Preen Lawn Weed Control treats hundreds of weeds and runs a close second place to Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed. The main difference between the two products is the additional fertilizer in the Scotts formula. This has pros and cons. As fertilizers can on occasions cause burn to vegetation if used too aggressively or in very hot sunny conditions, Preen may appeal to folks wishing to apply a treatment mid-summer but are not confident enough to use Scotts.
A really good product and one I can recommend with confidence. Check the latest prices here
- Kills dandelion, chickweed, knotweed, plantain, henbit, spurge
- Does not harm your lawn, rainproof within 3 hours
- Can be used in summer without the risk of fertilizer burn
- No fertilizer included
Organic or Natural Dandelion Killer?
There are non-chemical organic herbicides you can use as a safer alternative to chemical weed killers. Organic dandelion killer works in the same way as a chemical herbicide; it kills the weeds from the root and prevents them from coming back.
You can spray the organic herbicide to the walkways, along fences, or just anywhere you see dandelions. While using a chemical weed killer has proven to be much more effective – not to mention quicker- it may harm pets and children.
Organic dandelion killer takes a little longer to take effect so you’ll need to apply it more than once. Here are some organic dandelion killer ideas to try:
Corn gluten is an organic pre-emergent herbicide that can be applied using a pump sprayer. For best dandelion-killing results, apply 20 pounds of corn gluten on a 1,000 square foot lawn. If your lawn is bigger, increase the amount of corn gluten appropriately. After spraying the entire lawn, water it thoroughly to help absorb the corn gluten.
Another organic dandelion spray you can use as a post-emergent herbicide is borax, a natural household cleaning product. Simply mix 300 grams of borax powder with 6 liters of water. Pour the solution into a pump sprayer and spray it on dandelion leaves. You will need to spray this home-made weed killer a few times for the best results.
killing dandelions in lawn with vinegar
You’ll often hear that vinegar is the number 1 enemy of weeds. Yes, it’s true that weeds, including dandelions, don’t like the acetic acid in vinegar as it damages their leaves and flowers.
But…yes there is a but, household vinegar isn’t strong enough to kill dandelions as it only contains 5% acetic acid. The stronger type of vinegar used in horticultural applications contains 20% acetic acid, which is more effective in killing the leaves (not the roots) of dandelions. I don’t recommend this option as you may risk burning your skin.
For a more effective and safer solution, mix ¼ cup of lemon juice with 1 cup of household vinegar and 1 tablespoon of dish soap. The lemon juice will make the solution sticky for better results. Spray the sticky mixture thoroughly on the leaves of the dandelions and give it time to work its way against the weed. Within three hours or so, the sprayed dandelions will start withering before your eyes.
Keep reading as I will reveal some great tips on how to prevent dandelions from coming back to your lawn by the end of the article.
How To Get Rid Of Dandelions Naturally
If you’re not keen on using chemical sprays, or you’ve tried the organic mixture without the desired results, there are other natural ways to tackle dandelions. Removing dandelions naturally will take more time than spraying them with chemicals. However, you’ll feel safe in the knowledge that your grass, pets, and children won’t be harmed.
Here I have listed the 5 best natural methods to get rid of dandelions in lawn:
1. Dig Them Out
One incredibly effective yet time-consuming method for killing dandelions naturally is to dig them ideally in spring. As soon as you see the first signs of their seedlings, get your gardening fork or aerator into the ground and remove their taproot in one twisting action. Do this every few weeks to prevent dandelions from getting established on your lawn.
2. Weigh Them Down
Cover the dandelion-invaded area with cardboard or plastic before weighing it down with mulch, grass clippings, or compost. This way, the seeds of dandelions won’t see the sunlight to continue their growing process.
3. Use Rubbing Alcohol
Rubbing alcohol is another useful way of destroying dandelions. The alcohol drains the moisture from the weed’s leaves and eventually kills the plant. Simply spray the dandelions with the solution or apply them to moss. The dandelions should start withering within 6 hours after application.
4. Burn Dandelions
Another effective burning method is to use a weed burner torch. These flame-throwers will burn away the top part of the weed quickly. I must say this is an enjoyable way of killing weeds, especially for those who love playing with fire! Just be careful you don’t burn down your entire yard with its trees, shrubs, and everything else!
Boiling water works on all kinds of weeds so it makes sense to use it on dandelions. You’ll need to do this over a period of two or three days until the weed starts to shrivel and die. But pour with care as it will burn any plant or grass that’s within proximity of the dandelion. Once the leaves of the plant turn brown, pull it out with its roots and all.
5. Pull Them Out With a Dandelion Weeder
One of the most effective and easy-to-use hand tools that resemble an oversize screwdriver is the dandelion removal tool. This tool was originally used as an asparagus cutter but it wasn’t long until gardeners noticed how easily this resilient tool can pop out dandelions.
It features a V-shaped notch on the tip for pushing into the ground and an extra-long rod for pulling out the plant. All you do is press down on the handle and there comes the weed out of the ground. No need to twist the tool or use any other special movements.
On-Going Dandelion Control
So you’ve followed all my suggestions on how to get rid of dandelions in lawns. You’re thinking that’s it, you’re officially dandelion free and now it’s time to enjoy your clear lawn.
I don’t mean to put a damper on your happy moment, but your job isn’t done yet. The last step is to prevent dandelions from returning to your yard. So, here are some tips:
- Mow your lawn regularly but cut no more than a third of the length in a single session. This prevents the grass from drying out quickly.
- Sow grass seeds to fill the dandelion spots. This is best done right after you’ve pulled out all the dandelions. The empty patches must quickly fill with grass seeds. Otherwise, new dandelions will reclaim the same spot.
- Water your lawn deeply to encourage a strong root system.
- Schedule your fertilizing based on the type of grass you have.
- Make sure you use high nitrogen fertilizer regularly to maintain a healthy lawn. Remember, dandelions or any other weeds are less likely to invade well-maintained lawns. If you are unable to pull out all the dandelions in one go, try mowing them down during their blooming season to prevent them from maturing into puffballs and spreading their seedlings in your lawn and in your neighbor’s.
- Mulching to a minimum depth of 3 inches will prevent dandelions from growing. Use your grass clippings as mulch to cover the lawn. The thicker the lawn, the better.
- Once you’ve gained control of your dandelion problem, consider applying a pre-emergent herbicide 4 to 6 weeks before dandelions germinate. This weed killer won’t get rid of the existing weeds, but it will stop the seeds from sprouting.
When Is The Dandelion Season
The dandelion season begins in both spring and fall. This weed prefers moist soil and full sun to thrive, but it is known to survive in dry-shade conditions.
how fast do dandelions grow
It takes 12-21 days for a dandelion to germinate and 30+ days to grow through to its full vegetative size when it begins the flowering process. Flowering continues for the lifetime of the plant.
The real issue is how many dandelions it take to invade your garden? Just one.
There are 50-170 seeds on a single head of a dandelion. One single plant can produce…start rolling the drums…. up to 5,000 seeds per year!
Dandelions are hardy weeds that tolerate poor soil with low nutrients, they are resistant to pests and diseases, and survive periods of droughts. This is due to the fact that the taproot of dandelions is very strong and long penetrating to a depth of 6-18 inches. When left undisturbed, these persistent weeds can live for 10-13 years. Persistent, indeed!
how long do dandelions bloom
Dandelions bloom around 7 to 15 weeks after they germinate. The bloom of these weeds matures to seeds within as little as one week. If you recall, I previously said dandelions bloom in two seasons with the heaviest bloom in spring. That means in a 30-week growing season, 3 generations of dandelions can grow!
Right after flowering during the two seasons (spring and fall), they become weak, giving us the best opportunity to kill them.
The reason dandelions become weak after flowering is due to their low reserves of energy. But individual flowers can continue blooming in May and June. This is why I believe the best time to kill dandelions is in spring in order to prevent further growth.
How To Successfully Identify Dandelions
Lion’s tooth, blow ball, clockflower, Irish daisy, telltime, puffball, priest’s crown
This common weed is easy to misidentify as there are other plants (hawkweeds and hawks beards) that have similar leaves. However, the way to distinguish the difference is to look at the dandelions’ leaves and stems: hairless with toothed edges and only one flower per stem. The deeply toothed leaves emerge from the plant’s crown at ground level and the ‘puffball’ seeds of the flower look like hairs that can be blown with the slightest breeze. These seeds can travel as far as 5 miles with the help of the wind!
Dandelions are native to Europe, but they were unintentionally (who knows!) introduced in the 15th century to America, Australia, and just about everywhere else in the world by European settlers. Dandelions were cultivated in gardens and used for food and medicine before getting out of control. Since the mid-1600s, they proved to spread like a weed through continents.
With over 250 species that grow all over the world, dandelions are thought to thrive just about anywhere: from forests and gardens to fields or even wastelands. Basically anywhere with adequate sunlight and soil temperatures of 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit can be the hotspot for dandelion growth. This perennial weed grows in hardiness zones 3 through 10 and especially loves moist soil to thrive.
The European dandelion has numerous close relatives around the world, which look similar and are just as bad for the native plants. For example, there are various species of False dandelion in North America with flowers that look exactly like the classic dandelion, (rounded, yellow, multi florets).
Conclusion How to Get Rid of Dandelions
Consider incorporating the above preventative activities into your lawn maintenance routine so you can keep dandelions out of your lawn for good. With a little effort and patience, you can successfully banish these invasive troublemakers and enjoy your healthy weed-free lawn once again.
I hope you have enjoyed learning how to get rid of dandelions in lawns and can take this actionable advice and put it straight into practice in your garden.