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Dandelions in Your Yard

Avoiding Unwanted Yellow Flowers

The warmer weather is here to stay! Which means those dreaded yellow dandelions won’t be too far behind. If you’re a homeowner who takes great pride in maintaining a green, weed-free lawn, then you know what a headache these common lawn invaders can cause.

Dandelions are a widely-distributed perennial weed with leaves that grow flat on the ground atop a long perennial taproot. This familiar lawn weed is often enjoyed by Little League outfielders and kids looking to get back on mom’s good side, but disliked by adults, especially when its bright yellow flowers go to seed.

They grow best in sun-drenched, thin lawns, and can tolerate dense, hard soil but not a lot of foot traffic. Dandelions bloom in both spring and fall – the spring is the heavier of the two blooms – when days are less than 12 hours long.

Management & Control

How can homeowners get the upper hand on dandelions before they spread and take over a lawn?

Dandelions are actually controlled quite easily with the use of a broadleaf herbicide applied by your local Weed Man professional. The best time for effective treatment of dandelions is after the plant has flowered and is in the "puffball" stage. Fall is also an effective time to apply broadleaf weed control, as this is typically when dandelions transfer nutrients from their leaves to their roots for winter. Herbicide application at this time will disrupt the weed’s growth pattern, and you should see noticeable results the following spring.

Another important step is to maintain a thick, healthy lawn. As mentioned earlier, a thin lawn is more susceptible to dandelions and other weeds. Keeping your lawn thick and full through regular fertilization and watering, and cutting your lawn at a higher level will literally choke dandelions out.

If you have a small number of dandelions concentrated in one area of your lawn or in a flower bed, you can remove them by hand. Weed Man recommends using a weeding fork and trying to get the entire root (or as much as you can). If you don’t get enough of the root, the aggressive dandelion will grow back and you’ll be on your knees digging it out once again!

Homeowners can also collect the clippings when mowing the grass in hopes of capturing the weed before it goes to seed. A word of caution if you use this approach: weed seeds (like dandelions) can blow in from elsewhere and remain in your lawn’s soil waiting for the chance to blossom. Since dandelions are a perennial weed, they will keep coming back and usually in larger numbers if you don’t take effective, permanent control measures.  

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