To many people, dandelions are a pretty yellow flower that turns into a fun toy for the kids to play with when they go to seed.
But to those of us that spend hours and hours looking after our lawns, dandelions are horrible weeds break up that lovely green uniformity and should be removed at all costs!
But how do we get rid of dandelions? If you catch them at the right time, then they are actually not that hard to remove at all. And with a a few tips that we will teach you, they are also quite easy to prevent from coming back.
Let’s take a look at how to kill dandelions in your much loved lawn.
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The Best Ways To Kill Dandelions
The best way to kill dandelions depends on which part of their life cycle the plant is at.
The dandelion life cycle goes like this:
- A seed grows into a plant
- The plant grows a flower
- The flower turns into a seed head
- The seeds are blown from the seed head by the wind (or by children!)
- The seeds land in other areas of your lawn
- The seed starts growing again….
So as you can imagine, just one dandelion plant can eventually mean a whole lot of trouble for your lawn.
The most important thing to do when you notice that you have dandelions in your lawn, is to remove the flowers before they seed.
Even if you don’t intend to deal with the problem immediately – remove the flowers and dispose of them so they cannot spread their seeds.
Ok let’s move on…..
There are many ways to get rid of weeds, but here are our recommended ways to get rid of dandelions and to prevent them coming back.
Remove The Dandelion Plant Manually
When to use this method: at any point in the dandelions life cycle when you can notice it in your lawn
Did You Know: A dandelion will grow back if even part of it’s tap root remains alive in the ground?
This method involves manually removing each dandelion plant from your lawn. And not just the top of the plant, but you need to remove the whole tap root as well. If you fail to remove the tap root, then the plant will just grow back again!
This is also most natural way to remove dandelions as it involves no chemicals or herbicides at all.
18 inches hey? That’s damn deep! (Check out this photo as an example)
So how do you ensure you get all the root?
There are a few ways we can do this, but first an important tip:
Pro tip: Wait until after your lawn has had a good soaking from recent rain. This will loosen the soil around the tap root and allow it to be pulled out whole much easier.
Use a Weed Puller Tool
There are numerous tools you can use to make your life easier when it comes to removing these weeds by hand.
My all time favorite is the Fiskars weeder. It makes your weed pulling much easier by grabbing the root with its special pincers and pulling the weed out whole. It is also 30″ tall so there is no need to be down on your hands and knees all day hurting your back.
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See the video below for a demonstration on how this beauty of a tool works.
If you can’t afford the Fiskars tool or can’t get your hands on one then there are many other alternatives.
There is a large selection of dandelion digger tools available, and while none will be as good as what I previously mentioned, they are certainly better than doing it without a tool.
Dig The Weed Out
Can’t get your hands on a dandelion digger? Ok, there are still options – don’t panic!
This method involves digging around the plant carefully with a small hand spade. You will need to dig down deep enough to be able to pull the entire root out, so once again this is best done when the ground is moist.
Be sure to keep the area you are digging up as small as possible, otherwise you will end up with lots of unsightly dirt patches left in your lawn.
Learn more: How To Compost Weeds
Other Natural Methods
There are many other methods that can be used to get rid of weeds. See our post 16 ways to get rid of weeds in your lawn here.
Use A Herbicide
When to use this method: ideally before the plant flowers – dandelions become more resistant to herbicides after they flower
There are two types of herbicides that can be used to kill dandelions: selective and non-selective.
Selective Herbicide – 2,4-D
One of the main reasons that people decide against using herbicides on dandelions is that they don’t want to damage the rest of their lawn.
2,4-D is the short name for 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid. It’s a herbicide that kills most broadleaf weeds while leaving most grasses unaffected.
This herbicide can be sprayed over your entire lawn and will only kill the weeds, while leaving your grass to fill the spots where the weeds died and stop them coming back.
2,4-D is the active ingredient in most ‘weed and feeds‘ that are commonly used on American lawns.
You can find 2,4-D in these other popular products:
- Weed B Gon
- Scotts Weed and Feed
- Vigoro Weed and Feed
- Gordons Amine 400 Weed Killer
It should be noted that 2,4-D should not be use on more sensitive grasses such as St Augustine, Centipede grass and Zoysia as it will damage or even kill it.
If you wish to learn more about 2,4-D then this site has some great info on the health and environmental effects of this herbicide.
Read More: Tossing up between Scotts vs Vigoro? See our guide.
Non-Selective Herbicide – Glyphosate
Glyphosate is a common herbicide non selective herbicide. By non selective we mean that it kills anything it is applied to, and it is for this reason that it is not usually used to control weeds a grass lawn unless it is more weeds than grass!
We won’t go into Glyphosate in depth in this guide, because its uses are quite limited when it comes to your lawn at home.
Prevention is better than a cure right? For sure! Let’s take a look at ways to prevent Dandelions from invading your lawn in the first place.
Use a Pre-emergent
When to use this method: Late winter
What is a pre-emergent? Well it’s a chemical that is applied to your lawn and stops dandelion seeds (or other weeds) from growing. Many people think that pre-emergent herbicides stop the seeds growing all together, this is not the case. What is does do is applies a barrier to the soil that kills the weeds before they emerge from the ground.
When targeting dandelions, pre-emergents should be applied during late winter. The timing of applying a pre-emergent to your lawn is critical as it only stops dandelions from growing when they are in the seed stage and before they are visible in your lawn.
The following herbicides are other popular pre-emergents:
Don’t Mow Too Short
Mowing your lawns too short is one of the most common reasons that weeds get a hold in your yard.
When you mow too short, you give the weeds access to sunlight and they have room to grow. Mowing your lawns at the right height is essential to keeping a weed-free lawn.
Need a new lawn mower? Check out out our guide to the best cordless lawn mowers.