What is a Dandelion?
Young children find dandelions delightful because of their dazzling yellow flowers and appealingly entertaining feathery seed heads. But, adults are always looking for the best way to kill dandelions, for a good reason.
Dandelions belong to a family of weeds called broadleaf perennials. They are a nightmare for lawn-tending adults because they are difficult to remove. Additionally, they push out grass, tap water, and nutrients from surrounding plants. For example, once a dandelion plant establishes its tap root fully, it will perpetually spread its spawn across your lawn.
So, what’s the best way to kill dandelions? That long root is the key to killing dandelions for good. This article will enlighten you more on getting rid of this tempting “flower” without destroying your lawn. Let’s dig in!
What do Dandelions Look Like?
The one thing you cannot take from dandelions is that they look pretty! They have yellow flowers bright as the sunshine. The flowers usually mature into the infamous white fluffy balls that every kid loves. The wind releases these puffballs and becomes another dandelion, continuing the cycle.
The mature dandelion does not have a visible stem. Its leaves are sparsely hairy or hairless with deeply jagged edges. Moreover, the leaves cluster into a rosette at the plant’s base. It also has a strong taproot that emits a milky substance when you cut it.
The weed produces a small, brown, one-seeded fruit (achene) attached to a long slender stalk that terminates in a parachute-like structure having hairs. Together, the fruits form a furry, grayish spherical fruiting head.
How they reproduce themselves makes dandelion control challenging. However, dandelion removal will not be a big issue if you are thorough and patient.
What’s The Best Way to Kill Dandelions?
You can use several methods to remove dandelions from your yard. Every year, all dandelion removal methods must be performed because seeds travel some miles on the wind, making permanent removal more challenging. Here are some techniques you can consider:
Use an Herbicide
You can use two basic herbicide types on dandelions:
- Selective broadleaf herbicide: broadleaf herbicides only kill broadleaf herbicides like dandelions. This makes it the best way to kill dandelions without killing grass.
- Non-selective herbicide: the fact that it is non-selective means that it kills any plant it comes in contact with within your yard. As a result, you can use it for spot dandelion removals like in flowerbeds or walkways.
When you choose to use herbicides for dandelion control, it would be best to apply the herbicide before the dandelion weeds develop flowers. This is because once the dandelion flowers emerge, the plant becomes more resistant to herbicides, which is not practical.
Hand digging is the most effective way of killing dandelions, although it is the most time-consuming. Therefore, you should hand dig dandelions during spring when the first dandelion seedlings appear. Fortunately, there are special dandelion pullers and other similar tools that you can buy to make hand digging more efficient.
If hand digging is your preferred method of dandelion removal, ensure you remove the whole taproot of the plant. Remember that the dandelion taproot runs very deep, making it nearly impossible to kill all the dandelions in your yard during the first round of hand digging. This means that you will have to repeat the exercise when others re-emerge from their taproots.
Use a Pre-Emergent
A pre-emergent is a chemical you can apply in your lawn or flower bed to stop seeds from germinating. If you use a pre-emergent as your preferred dandelion killer, apply it in late winter to be effective.
The pre-emergent prevents the dandelion seeds from sprouting. Therefore, it is only effective if you apply it before the dandelion seeds get a chance to germinate.
Whatever dandelion control method you choose, it would help to remember that you must prevent the dandelions from going to seed. Because once the feathery seeds appear, the number of this “beautiful” weed will grow exponentially.
Are Dandelions Weeds?
Yes. Dandelions are weeds. The dandelion is a widely distributed perennial broadleaf weed commonly found in mountain fields and turf. You can also find it in perennial crop fields. It hosts the aster yellow disease that affects vegetables.
However, technically speaking, dandelions are herbs considered weeds because they appear where they are not welcome- in the yard. On the other hand, they have numerous uses, such as having medicinal value and being a source of food for wildlife.
How Long do Dandelions Live?
Individual dandelion plants can survive up to 13 years if they remain undisturbed. This is because the plant’s seed usually forms a relatively persistent seed bank. The dandelion seed’s soil half-life is three months, and if buried, they remain viable for up to five years.
Preventing Dandelion Growth
Just like other ailments, prevention is the best cure. So, if you want to avoid the yellow flower in the grass, ensure your yard has a thick carpet of flourishing, impenetrable grass. This weeds out your enemies literally because they will not have room to grow.
In short, you must focus on your lawn’s health. A strong and healthy lawn is less vulnerable to weed invasion. Here is how you can maintain a healthy yard:
- Occasionally water your lawn deeply to promote a strong and deep root system.
- Don’t cut more than a third of the grass blade’s length at any one time. This encourages good photosynthesis keeping your grass from drying out quickly.
- Schedule your fertilizing correctly as per your grass type – If you have cool-season grasses like fescues, fertilize during fall. On the other hand, warm-season grasses like Zoysia and Bermuda are better fertilized during spring.
Note that this routine for removing dandelion weeds is time-consuming. However, the results will make it a worthwhile exercise. Therefore, it would help to incorporate these activities into your lawn maintenance routine to regulate and deal with dandelions on a smaller scale. Patience and diligence will help you get rid of dandelions for good!
How to Kill Dandelions
Preventing dandelion flowering and seeding is the best way to kill dandelions in the yard. Additionally, it has a long taproot that eliminates hoeing, a more challenging exercise. It is difficult to remove the taproot manually.
This is because if you cut individual plants below the ground using a blade, you are likely to leave a portion of the root underground.
This portion of the dandelion root that remains below the ground can sprout, developing a cluster of fresh shoots. Therefore, the best way to kill dandelions is to destroy them from the roots; otherwise, you risk having a dandelion garden in your yard!
Therefore, you need an all-inclusive approach to get rid of dandelions permanently. First, use the selective broadleaf herbicide to spray your entire lawn. After that, use the non-selective herbicide to apply directly on the remaining dandelions.
If any dandelions are resistant to the dandelion killer herbicides, hand dig them out from the roots. Apply the pre-emergent on the open spot to stop any seeds from germinating. Consider filling the hole with pre-emergent herbicide because it is vulnerable to aggressive weeds. Don’t plant new grass in the area.
Instead, it would be best if you hoped that the already established runners would cover the spot.
Above all, ensure your lawn remains thick and healthy, leaving no room for any stubborn dandelions to grow. Follow the steps outlined in the previous section to keep your lawn healthy. This all-encompassing approach is how you get rid of dandelions permanently.
Dandelions are a tricky enemy to deal with. On the one hand, your children will love their bright yellow flowers, while on the other, you, the one tending the lawn, dread the sight of them. Moreover, they are terrifying because they are not easy to get rid of.
The fact that their seed moves in the wind mean they are perpetually being propagated in your grass yard. Fortunately, with patience and a little hard work, you can remove them permanently from your yard.
If you have read this comprehensive guide blow by blow, you are equipped with practical ways of dandelion control. Nevertheless, the best way to kill dandelions in your yard depends on the extent of their invasion.