S To Get Rid Of Dandelions Organically Or Using A Weed
- The Organic way digging the weed out by hand, following up using common-sense methods of preventative garden maintenance.
- The weed killer method that completely kills the whole plant and root in one go.
When I’m clearing dandelions and other broad leafed weeds from lawns, even small areas, I avoid using the expensive branded glyphosate based weed-killers like roundup and instead dilute the concentrated (360g/l glyphosate available here. It is cheaper and works better!
Click on the amazon advert for more information about treating dandelions with a weed killer that kills the whole plant and the root.
I was going to promise a way to eradicate dandelions completely, but here are two reasons I can’t.
Should I Use Weed Killer On Dandelions
In wildlife gardens, chemicals should be used as a last resort. There are more eco-friendly, effective methods for how to get rid of dandelions in a lawn that you should try before you reach for the weed killer.
- Flame throwing: A simple but effective method for how to get rid of dandelions in a lawn is to use a flame gun to spot treat dandelions. Buy one with an ignition switch for safety, and dont use it on lawns that have a high thatch content or during prolonged dry or windy weather. Only focus the flame on the dandelion for a few seconds, otherwise you may damage the surrounding soil or grass. Repeat daily or every few days until the dandelion is dead.
- Sun blocking: Paul Tukey, author of , advises covering patches of persistent weeds with heavyweight black pond liner to block air and light. Total dieback can take anywhere from one week in the heat of summer to two months in the cold of winter, he says. Afterwards, add compost and sow grass or lay turf to prevent new weeds taking hold. There are lots of tips on how to lay turf in our dedicated guide.
- Vinegar: Eco-friendly weed killer alternatives often contain vinegar, lemon juice, or clove oil, but they can damage the soil and kill grass nearby and are only effective if temperatures are over 65°F . If you learn how to make homemade weed killer, make sure you apply to the dandelion leaves only, ensuring rain is not forecast.
How To Get Rid Of Dandelions
Dandelions may be a favorite of kids making wishes, but gardeners generally arent fans of the fluffy seedheads nor the yellow blooms that precede them.
There are different ways to get rid of dandelions, and well give you the lowdown on the options here. Bear in mind, however, that they provide nectar and pollen for insects, so if there are areas of the yard where you can put up with their presence, youll be helping to support insect populations. Dandelions can also be used as herbal remedies and for culinary purposes.
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Identify The Weeds You Have
In order to make a successful game plan, youll need to know just what kind of weeds youre dealing with. Weed treatments are designed to target specific weeds, so what may work on your broadleaf weeds may leave your grass-like weeds A-OK.
Weeds come in multiple categories, either broadleaf, grass-like, or grassy.
- Common types: Clover, ground ivy, dandelions, chickweed
- Appearance: Similar to grass, with hollow leaves in a triangular or tube shape
- Common types: Nutsedge, wild garlic, wild onion
- Appearance: Resembles grass, grows one leaf at a time
- Common types: Foxtail, annual bluegrass, quackgrass, crabgrass
Weeds can be broken down further into categories based on their life cycleannual, biennial, or perennial.
- Annual: Produces seeds during one season only
- Biennial: Produces seeds during two back-to-back seasons
- Perennial: Produces seeds over many seasons
Why Do I Have So Many Dandelions
Usually triggered by frost or when daylight hours grow short, the flowers of the dandelioneach head actually a cluster of tiny flowersdry to become the familiar white puff ball. Hundreds of fine hairs each hold a seed that carry readily in the wind, a single plant spreading seeds over hundreds of yards.
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Pull Dandelions By Hand
If the problem is isolated to a few individual plants, these tips from Wagner can help.
- Pull dandelions when they are still in flower, before they develop seed heads.
Water your lawn or wait until after a heavy rain, so the soil is damp and the dandelions will be easier to pull out.
Use a weeding tool or pointed garden trowel to help loosen the tap root in the soil, then gently pull the plant out. If done correctly, the tap root should pull up from the soil with little tension, letting you know that youre not breaking it, Wagner says.
Carefully pour a natural herbicide or vinegar into the hole to kill any remaining portion of the taproot. These solutions will kill surrounding grass or nearby plants, so be precise.
Fill the hole with soil and top with turfgrass seeds, or wait to see if runners from the surrounding turfgrass plants naturally fill in the bald spot.
Spray Surrounding Areas Carefully And Correctly
During dandelion removal, you may not be able to extract all of the taproot, especially in fully developed weeds that have had time to form deeper, more elaborate root systems. Because of this, using a combination of hand pulling and herbicides is recommended for most dandelion outbreaks.
Pouring an herbicide down the open hole after weeding will kill whatevers left of the root in the soil.When killing dandelions with herbicides, ensure youre being careful of surrounding areas. Dont spray on windy days, as this may transport the herbicides to other areas of the flowerbed and kill off plants you want in your garden, versus those that you dont.
Dont use too many applications of herbicide either. In most cases, over-spraying damages the soil and drains it of many of the nutrients needed for other plants and grasses to survive. Weed killers should only be used about once a week to prevent these issues from occurring.
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Mow The Lawn Regularly
Getting your best lawn mower out of the shed and cutting the grass regularly during the growing season is one of the simplest and most effective ways for how to get rid of dandelions in a lawn.
In my experience, dandelions dont tolerate regular mowing, says Sandy Reid, Director of Greenkeeping at the St Andrews golf courses in Scotland. Mowing is an especially effective cultural control when the cutting height is 3/4in or less.
Remember to mow with the bagging attachment on once the dandelions have started setting seed , to ensure the seed is collected and contained. The seedheads are spherical and white. Do not dispose of lawn clippings that contain dandelion seedheads on the compost heap because the seed can live buried for five years.
Apply Chemical Weed Killer To Dandelions
Lots of dandelions? Chemical control may be your best bet, Wagner says. Although these products are effective against dandelions and other broadleaf weeds results can often be seen in just hours they contain toxic chemicals that are harmful to humans and wildlife, as well as other plants. Chemical weed killers will eradicate your dandelions completely, so youll lose any benefits a manageable amount of plants would provide.
If you decide to use a chemical to stop your dandelion problem, Wagner says, make sure you read the label carefully to ensure that it will not cause any damage to your lawn and is compatible with your grass type.
Chemical weed killers should be applied when the plants are young and the soil is moist enough for the toxins to penetrate.
If your dandelions are already blooming, opt for a post-emergent broadleaf herbicide. Most broadleaf herbicides contain 2,4-D and/or Dicamba, Holmes says. These two products work great when used properly but can create problems if used incorrectly, especially near sensitive plants.
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Applying Chemical Treatments To Kill Dandelions
Broadleaf herbicides do a great job of terminating existing dandelion populations. Spray the plants with the weed killer of your choice during the fall months, and the toxins will travel, along with the nutrients, down to the roots.
Theres a chance you may have to mist on a second post-emergent herbicide application before the weed is completely killed. If its already spring, no worries. Early spring is the second-best time to get rid of dandelion plants.
Use the same pre-emergent herbicide youd use to get rid of crabgrass, such as Roundup, to kill these lawn weeds before their seeds germinate.
Post-emergent herbicides are weed killers that are used on established lawns with existing weeds. Pre-emergent herbicides are used as a preventative measure on lawns where weeds have yet to sprout.
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 youll 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 homemade weed killer a few times for the best results.
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Fill In The Hole With Pre
There will be an empty spot on your lawn where the dandelions were and you will need to fill in that space so that new weeds do not grow back. Mix the herbicide with soil and fill in the space. It will be unlikely that you will be able to plant grass there since the herbicide is likely nonselective, but hopefully, the rest of your grass will eventually fill in the space. Thankfully filling in this space with pre-emergent herbicide will discourage weeds from coming and filling the space on your lawn.
Are Dandelions Good For Lawns
Believe it or not, the answer is yes, Holmes said. Dandelions robust root systems, which can be up to three feet long, can actually loosen compacted soil. That aerates and allows water and nutrients to penetrate deeper into the ground.
Dandelions also draw in nutrients from the soil and return them to neighboring plants. Finally, they can reduce erosion by holding the soil in place.
Too many dandelions, however, can rob your lawn of the water and nutrients it needs to thrive. The trick is to maintain a sustainable balance and keep dandelion numbers in check with an effective management strategy.
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How To Get Rid Of Dandelions By Hand
If there are a few dandelions growing in the lawn getting rid of them by hand can be the best strategy. Dig them out, but make sure to get as much of the lengthy tap root as you can otherwise they can regrow.
This is a job to do before the dandelions flower if possible, and certainly before the seedheads develop. Look out for the characteristic rosette of leaves, which may be pink near the base.
Its worth doing this job after its rained or try watering the lawn first, recommends Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. It will be easier to remove the whole plant, including the tap root.
While you can use a garden trowel to get rid of dandelions, you may want to invest in a special tool to help. We like Grampas Weeder from Amazon, which has a metal claw to grab hold of these plants, which can then be levered out of the ground. It avoids the need to bend over while working, too, saving your back.
How To Prevent Dandelion From Growing
Now, the time has come to answer your question, How to prevent a Dandelion from Growing.
1) The best defense against dandelions is to keep the grass lush, and healthy. Cut your lawn to the appropriate height irrespective of the grass variety you have. Why? Because a large lawn shadows the soil, preventing the germination of dandelion and other seeds. In a single cutting, never remove more than one-third of the grass blade.
2) Mowing down dandelions when theyre blooming can help prevent them from spreading too. Although it isnt a way to get rid of dandelions, it is a very effective way to keep thousands of dandelion seeds from flying into your yard.
3) If dandelions appear in your landscape or garden, mulch to a depth of 23 inches to prevent them from growing. Its simple to pick the entire plant if you detect dandelions growing on the mulch.
4) After handling the dandelions, you might want to try a pre-emergent herbicide four to six weeks before they grow. It wont destroy the weeds that are already there, but it will assist prevent seeds from developing. Furthermore, use fertilizer regularly to keep your grass healthy and lush, which is your best defense against dandelions.
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How Does This Work
If you do plan to use herbicides to get rid of your dandelion problem, you should probably have some idea of how these weed control chemicals work.
Systemic herbicides are your best option to get the whole root. These herbicides get absorbed and transported through the entire plant, once absorbed. This process kills every part of the weed, including the dandelion taproots, so theres no future germinating.
Be cautious:Systemic chemicals may work their way up to the flowers and affect pollinators who visit the plant.
Pull Dandelions With A Weed Puller
Using special dandelion pullers is a natural, selective method that can be quicker than hand-pulling and easier on your back.
Use when soil is damp, so taproots come up easily.
Position the serrated claws of the dandelion puller over the head of the flower and step down onto the foot platform to drive the tool into the ground. Pull back, letting the claws close around the plant and its taproot. Then pull it out of the ground.
Dandelion pullers generally leave a much smaller hole in the ground than hand pulling, so use extra care if you decide to pour herbicide or vinegar into the hole.
No need to fill the small hole with soil. The surrounding turfgrass will soon cover the area.
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How To Get Rid Of Dandelions: 4 Methods
If you have dandelions growing in unwanted places in your garden, lawn, or flowerbeds, you can kill dandelions with a few different methods. Here are four ways:
Regular Feeding Of The Lawn
A weak and unhealthy lawn is at more of a threat than one that is treated with love. Be sure to invest in a high-quality fertilizer and feed your lawn regularly during growing season. This helps your lawn stay weighty and full, leaving little space for weeds like dandelions, meaning a lack of direct sunlight for the pesky little plants to grow, giving you a happy garden.
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The Organic Way To Get Rid Of Dandelions In Your Lawn
On poor acidic soil you could leave them to grow and “slowly” help improve the soil.
Dandelions love acidic, low nutrient soil. They will continue to grow in this type of soil, slowly helping improve it until it is no longer acidic and is full of nutrients and then, job done they will be crowded out by healthy lawn grass. This Organic method of clearing dandelions from your lawn, could depending on the size of the area, take a long time, but can be sped up by addressing the pH and shortage of nutrients by adding material from your organic compost heap.
An important step if you use this organic method is to behead all dandelion flowers before they go to seed to minimise the volume of seeds. This will speed-up the process, but it is still going to be a slow way of getting rid of dandelions and does take a lot of work initially. Once under control, the removal of the odd dandelion isn’t a major time issue and there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be gained from knowing you have done it mother nature’s way
Even after you have cleared your lawn, you will get seeds from neighbours lawns who don’t bother to keep them under control and the important thing is to keep on top of it.
Another method of removing Dandelions from lawns without damaging the grass or using herbicides, is to dig out the whole plant and root.
These tools make digging out dandelion roots easy the first one is a great invention for removing dandelions, from lawns.