Every year, those cheery-looking yellow flowers emerge in 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 in 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 in lawn once and for all so you can protect your garden from these invasive weeds-dressed-as-flowers.
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 that may work. 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 in 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 it to moss. The dandelions should start withering within 6 hours after application.
4. Try Burning Dandelions
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.
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!
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 weeder. 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.
Dig Out Dandelions In 4 Easy Steps
I have come up with the quickest and least labor-intensive method of how to get rid of dandelions in lawns using a weed killer. Follow these steps to get rid of dandelions in the lawn for good:
Step 1: Dig up the dandelion with a weeding knife
Any weed can be pulled from the ground if the soil is moist. During dry conditions, use a garden hose or watering can dampen the soil around the dandelion. Wait for a couple of minutes for the water to settle in before using a weeding knife to work along the base of the weed.
Wiggle the knife to push the soil away from the dandelion and grasp the plant between your fingers with a gentle pull. If you don’t see the taproot on the plant, you must work the weeding knife around the plant some more until the entire taproot is out.
Step 2: Kill the root with weed killer
Remember, if the dandelion’s taproot remains in the ground, it will soon grow into a dreaded dandelion, so it’s important to kill the plant in its entirety using a commercial weed killer.
Step 3: Fill the hole with pre-emergent herbicide
Now that you’ve dug up the plant, you’re left with an open spot in the lawn with loose soil. This spot is vulnerable to other dandelions that have turned into puffballs. To discourage new weeds from taking root, fill the hole with a pre-emergent weed killer or organic dandelion killer.
Note: it’s best not to plant any shrubs or grass in the treated area for a while until you’ve completely destroyed the dandelions. And don’t forget to put your pets away before applying the pre-emergent.
Step 4: Keep your lawn healthy
After tackling the dandelions, dedicate some time to boosting your lawn’s immune system by planting new shrubs and grass seeds. This way, your lawn will be less susceptible to attacks from perennial weeds like dandelions.
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.
Kill Dandelions Using Weed Killer
There are two basic types of weed killers that can be used on dandelions. The first type is a selective broadleaf herbicide, which will only kill broadleaf weeds, i.e. dandelions. This type of herbicide is ideal for killing dandelions as it won’t damage the grass or other 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 in the lawn.
how to get rid of dandelions in lawns Using Dandelion Spray
Dandelions are sprayed before or after their seeds germinate. A pre-emergent is a chemical herbicide sprayed in the flower bed or lawn to prevent dandelion seeds from sprouting. To apply, dig up the ground where you’ve pulled out the dandelions and spray the chemical in the loose soil.
A post-emergent herbicide can be applied to the dandelions after germination when they’re visible on the lawn. Any type of post-emergent weed killer that contains the chemicals triclopyr, carfentrazone, or sulfentrazone will be effective in killing this weed.
To apply: spray directly to the dandelion by holding the spray close to the plant. Take care not to spray the chemical to your valuable plants and make sure you read the instructions before use.
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Does Organic Dandelion Killer Work?
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 in 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.
So how about 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.
Best Time to Spray Dandelions
Pre-emergent herbicide must be applied in late winter in order to be most effective. This weed killer will prevent the seeds from germinating but is only effective if it is sprayed before the dandelion seeds have had a chance to sprout.
The best time to spray dandelions with post-emergent is in early September after the dandelions have bloomed. This is when the flowers are at their weakest stage. May is another good time to spray post-emergent herbicide to dandelions when temperatures are above 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
No matter when you apply chemical or organic weed killer to dandelions, make sure it’s on a dry day with no rain forecasts for at least 2 days. Also, if you’re using chemical herbicide, make sure you follow the safety instructions by wearing eye protection and gloves.
How to Control Dandelions Forever
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:
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Water your lawn deeply to encourage a strong root system.
4. Schedule your fertilizing based on the type of grass you have.
5. Make sure you fertilize regularly to maintain a healthy lawn. Remember, dandelions or any other weeds are less likely to invade well-maintained lawns.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
Guide 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).
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?
In other words: how many dandelions does it take to invade your garden? Just one.
Yes, you heard right!
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!
It won’t take long for these perennial survivors to sprout in your lawn at soil temperatures of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. When temperatures reach around 75 degrees, dandelions germinate more quickly. This normally happens in two seasons: spring and fall.
And I have even more bad news for you. Dandelions are hardy weeds that tolerate poor soil nutrients, resistant to pests and diseases, and survive periods of droughts. This is due to the fact that the taproot of dandelions is very strong. It typically grows to a soil depth of 5 to 17 inches. When left undisturbed, these persistent weeds can live for 10-13 years. Persistent, indeed!
How Long Do Dandelions Bloom?
Dandelions bloom around 8 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), these pesky weeds become weak, thus giving us a good opportunity to kill ’em.
The reason dandelions become weak after flowering is mainly due to their low reserves of energy and food. 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.
Conclusion How to Get Rid of Dandelions in Lawns
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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Pull Dandelions By Hand?