If you’ve ever had a lawn, then you know that weeds are your worst enemy. There are many different types of weeds, and one of the most common ones you will find on your lawn is dandelions. Dandelions are a tough weed to get rid of. They spread quickly and form dense patches that can’t be pulled out by hand or killed with just one spray from the hose.
If you’re looking for some help getting rid of these pesky flowers, here’s how to do it! Let’s take a look at how to identify and get rid of dandelions so they don’t spread throughout your lawn or garden any more than they already have.
Here are some tips on how to identify dandelions, what to do when you spot them, and how to get rid of them for good!
What Dandelions Are
The scientific name for the Dandelion weed is Taraxacum officinale, which is a flowering plant that is a subset of the Asteracaea family, which also includes sunflowers and daisies.
Dandelion plants are native to Eurasia and North America, but they grow all over the world in temperate climates. They get their name from the French word “dent de lion,” which means “tooth of the lion” – referring to its jagged and coarse leaves. They are also sometimes colloquially called blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, and piss-a-bed.
Every part of a dandelion is edible, and they are commonly eaten as delicacies in parts of the world where they are more rare, such as the tropics. They can be used to make dandelion wine, eaten in a salad, and the roots have even been used as a caffeine-free coffee substitute.
The idiomatic name ‘piss-a-bed’ comes from the fact that dandelions have diuretic properties, and they have been used as such in China for thousands of years, and Native Americans used them as a food as well as a medicine.
How and Where Do Dandelions Grow?
Dandelion weeds can be found in all 50 states and all of the southern Canadian provinces. In addition to Europe and Asia, it is naturalized on every continent except for Antarctica. It is considered a noxious weed in some U.S. jurisdictions, and is one of the most popular residential and recreational lawn weeds throughout the country.
Dandelions are often an indication of calcium and potassium levels in soil, because they prefer soils with low calcium concentrations, as well as soils with higher than average concentrations of potassium.
They are commonly found colonizing disturbed habitats, either from wind blown seeds or from seed bank germination. Their seeds can remain viable in a seed bank for up to nine years. The seeds spread via the wind, and can travel hundreds of meters away from their flower. The seeds are also a frequent contaminant in agricultural and pasture seeds.
If you’ve ever blown on a dandelion head you know that they can spread their seeds prolifically and in wide areas. A single colony can produce 54 to 172 seeds per head, with each plant producing over 5,000 seeds per year. A dense infestation of dandelions can potentially produce 40 million seeds per acre per year.
The weed can adapt to most types of soil, and the seeds don’t depend on cold or warm temperatures to sprout, but they need to be within the top inch of the soil.
Spotting and Identifying Dandelions
If you live or grew up in the United States, or many other temperate countries around the world, you have almost certainly seen a dandelion weed. Most likely you played with them as kids.
Dandelions grow to a height between 2 and 16 inches tall, but they are most commonly around 5 to 10 inches high. They also grow at ground level so they’re easy to spot when walking through the grass or just looking out into your backyard. The stems are narrow and a normal green color, although they sometimes can be tinted purple.
On top of the stems sit the flower heads, which each grow on top of a single stalk. There are two stages that the flower of a dandelion goes through, and they look very different.
The first stage is the yellow flower stage – this is where the “lion’s tooth” name stems from. The flowers at this stage look like little sunflowers – a small center surrounded radially by a large number of very tiny pointed petals. The petals grow all on the same plane, so they form more of a circle than a sphere.
The second stage is when those petals on the yellow flower have turned into tiny tufts of silvery, wispy fruits that easily disperse at the slightest breeze. When all of the flower heads have turned into the second stage, a field of dandelions looks like a low lying cloud.
Eliminating Dandelions From Your Yard
So, you’ve identified that there are dandelions growing in your lawn. Now comes the part where you remove them from the lawn. For this you can use organic or chemical methods, or a combination of both.
One thing to keep in mind is that any method of controlling dandelions must be repeated every year, as they are quick to repopulate and spread to your backyards from other yards in your neighborhood.
Via Organic Means
If you have large patches of dandelions that you need removed quickly, then there are many ways that will do the trick! For one thing, you can try to get rid of a dandelion infestation by digging out the root system. If you have an especially large or stubborn patch of dandelions that won’t go away with just glyphosate treatments, this is a viable way to get rid of it.
You can find special dandelion pulling tools to help in this process. Be sure to get any and all pieces of the weed, including the entire root system, which can be tricky. Pulling should be done in the spring, before any of the plants start to flower.
Another way is using boiling water from your kitchen stovetop kettle – pour it onto the dandelion patch until all plant parts have been submerged for at least two minutes.
Via Chemical Means
Another method is using an herbicide containing glyphosate such as RoundUp Ready-To-Use Herbicide or Compare-N-Save Concentrate. These are systemic herbicides that will translocate throughout the dandelion after being applied.
For best results you should apply the product once the flower head has transitioned to its silver state (after it turns yellow), but before it opens. You can cut off these yellow flower tops and then apply the herbicide. If this isn’t fully effective, you can re-apply later in the fall, when the plant is transitioning its nutrients from its leaves into its roots.
Preventing Dandelions From Growing
Now that you have rid your lawn of dandelion weeds, you should take precautions to prevent them from ever growing back. Using some preventative measures, you should be able to avoid another dandelion infestation.
Keeping your lawn healthy will ensure that the dandelions don’t have a place to grow. You can fertilize your lawn, but be careful to not add too much potassium, as that will cause dandelions to pop up everywhere. Mowing and aerating the lawn will also help the grass to grow healthier and be less susceptible to dandelions, as well as other pests.
You can also use some pre-emergent weed preventers such as Preen Extended Control or RM43 Weed Preventer which contain chemicals that will prevent seeds from sprouting. These products shouldn’t be used if you plan on planting flowers in your lawn, as many of them will also prevent those seeds from sprouting as well. The best time to use weed barriers like these is just before you seed your lawn.
If you have noticed that your lawn is starting to look less than pristine, there’s a good chance you’re noticing an uninvited guest in the form of dandelions popping up all over the place. But, the good news is it isn’t too late for you to get rid of these pesky invaders before they take over and make your yard their own personal play area.
We hope this article has helped give you some ideas for how to eradicate these pesky plants without too much effort or cost – but if not you can always contact us below!