Fluffy Yellows and Billowy Whites in Your Lawn: Dandelion Control

8004374197_27c6ba64da_oDandelions are ubiquitous with the start of spring. While some folks don’t mind allowing a few blooms to feed early spring pollinators, others despise a yellow speckled lawn. If you’re in the weed-free turf camp, here are some tips for dandelion control.

First, the best defense against dandelions is cultivating a healthy, robust lawn. Lawns that are not well managed have open space for new weed establishment, and the turf cannot out compete vigorous weeds. For a healthy and dense lawn, you should fertilize and mow regularly, provide proper irrigation, and take care of any potential soil issues. Read more for tips on healthy lawn cultivation.

If you already have dandelions, understand that they will continue to grow from the same spot unless the plant is completely removed. Since dandelions re-sprout easily from roots left in the soil, make sure you pull up as much of the root as you can. Use a weeding tool or stick to assist, as some can grow up to three feet deep!

If you have too many dandelions to manually remove, consider chemicals as a last resort. Broad-leaf weed killers 2,4-D, dicamba, and MCPP are found in many “weed & feed” fertilizer mixes, and will provide control of actively growing dandelions. Glyphosate is not recommended since the chemical will not effectively kill the root. Late summer and early fall is the best time to chemically treat dandelions, but a spring application of 2,4-D will provide some control if you cannot wait that long. With whatever chemical you use, make sure to read the label thoroughly and follow all label instructions. Be careful of chemical use on windy days to avoid drift, and keep in mind that shallow rooted woody plants in your lawn may be negatively affected by dicamba.

If you’re not feeling up to the task of dandelion removal, know that pollinators appreciate the early spring blooms (read more here). And if your neighbors ask, tell them it’s for your salad. Turns out, dandelions are edible, too!

If you’re looking for answers to your horticulture and gardening related questions, contact christine.marsden@ces.uwex.edu at any time or call the UW-Extension Rock County office at 608-757-5696.