How To Remove Dandelions From Your Lawn Organically
You despise dandelions. . . But every story has two sides, so before I get started on how to anhililate your dandelions I'd like to mention a few of their benefits.
- They attract beneficial insects including pollinators to the garden.
- Their deep taproots draw up nutrients from deep in the soil, redistributing them to shallower rooted species nearby when they die.
- They are highly nutritious, containing a high concentration of many vitamins and minerals. The leafs can be blanched and eaten, the roots can be roasted and ground into a coffee substitute and the flowers can be used to make dandelion wine.
With that out of the way, lets have a look at how to remove dandelions from your lawn organically. Forget sprays, forget using salt or pouring boiling water over them, the most effective way to get rid of dandelions organically is to put in the hard yards and pull them out. Fortunately there are tools which to make this task less painful.
Forget about trying to pull out dandelions by hand, they have deep taproots that will make your task just about impossible. As dandelions can re-sprout from sections of the root left in the soil, the best way to remove them organically is to pull the dandelion roots and all using a purpose-built tool. You can use a stock-standard hand weeding wand that can be found at most garden nurseries by inserting the forked tip of the wand into the soil along the taproot and levering it out. Alternatively if you don't want to keep bending down there are also foot operated, stand-up weeders that have become popular. You operate these by first pushing the prongs into the soil with the foot lever, then just by leaning back the prongs grasp onto the taproot and loosen it. At which point you can easily pull the dandelion by lifting the whole device and then use the quick release mechanism to easily collect the pulled dandelions for disposal.
Dandelion roots and seedheads should be disposed of in the garbage and not in the compost where they could sprout. Unfortunately you cannot stop dandelion seed from blowing in from neighboring properties so you'll have to keep a constant watch, pulling them as they appear, if you want to stay on top of them. Don't worry if your lawn has a few holes in it after you evict the unwanted dandelions, these holes can actually be beneficial to the lawn by aerating the soil and allowing the roots of the turf to breath. The runners the turf grass sends out will quickly fill any unsightly gaps within a month or so.
Here are some extra lawn maintenance tips to help keep your lawn free of dandelions as well as weeds generally:
Dandelions will easily overrun turf that has been cut short. Instead before mowing raise the blade height on your mower and keep your lawn cut high but regularly. By keeping your lawn longer the turf will be stronger, let in less light to germinating weed seed below and be better able to out-compete any that do manage to germinate. By mowing regularly, any flowers the dandelions produce will be quickly sliced off before they have a chance to set seed and spread.
If you use organic fertilisers on your lawn it is vital that you apply them at the correct time, you want to feed your lawn while it is actively growing and not feed the invading weeds looking to get a foothold over your turf during other times. Fertilise cool season grasses during early Spring and late Fall, and warm season grasses during Summer when their growth is most active.
Unless you are trying to get new grass seed to germinate, if you are going to water your lawn you should water deeply and infrequently. Watering lightly and regularly will encourage dandelion and other weed seeds to germinate and give the young seedlings the ideal damp conditions they require to thrive.
If your lawn is looking patchy or thin you can spread more grass seed to help fill the gaps that weeds could otherwise utilise. Reseeding is best done during fall for a couple of reasons. If sown in Fall, the new grass will have 9 months to send out roots and become established before the stress of Summer's heat (which can kill new turf) catches up with it. In cooler areas especially, many weeds will die down during Fall so the competition isn't as fierce for the emerging grass if sown then.