Few things say spring like a blooming dandelion!
Dandelions are probably the most iconic weed in America, many people can spot one without any difficulty. As kids, we saw these as little treasures. We picked them and gave them to our moms to show our affection. My mom would carefully place them in a glass of water and put them in the window sill. This was the original intent as a beautiful flower.
Dandelions are apart of the Asteraceae family. That’s right, they belong to the same family of Asters that we love to see in our landscapes and gardens. These little beauties are native to Eurasia (Eastern Europe and Western Asia) and North America.
To many, this weed is completely unacceptable in a lawn. To the lawn care industry, this little plant is job security.
Dandelions are prolific seeders. A single plant can produce up to, but not limited to, 2,000 seeds per year. This shows how important it is to keep these little plants from seeding. Dandelions are also apomictic, meaning they do not require male fertilization. In essence each dandelion you see is a clone of the maternal plant.
With just a few in your lawn, dandelions are fairly easy to control. However, if you are overrun by dandelions it can become more labor intensive. The good news is they can be controlled but there is no magic pill. All weeds are good at finding bare soil areas to fill in and Dandelions are no exception. When you have a high density of dandelions it may be because your turf has thin spots. The best way to control dandelions is to first use a liquid herbicide.
Liquid herbicide like 2,4-D is a growth hormone that was developed in the mid 1940’s. The product causes the cells in the plant to divide too quickly causing the curling of the leaves and the flower’s stem. Using a liquid herbicide is practicing good land stewardship. In contrast, many granular herbicides count on the plant to be taken up by the roots or to have the granular stick to the leaf surface which shows less effective results. Granular herbicides are also harder to control around landscaping and gardens. Desired plants may absorb the herbicide through their roots causing damage.
After your herbicide control method, it is important to thicken up your turf with a high quality seed. Be sure to read the label before you seed, as some herbicides require seed germination for a certain length of time. Most broadleaf weed herbicides require you to wait 4-8 weeks after application to overseed. If you use a pre-emergence on your lawn in the spring, you may have to wait until August or September to reseed.
Another way to thicken your lawn is the use of the appropriate fertilizer. This is where a qualified professional can help if you do not understand your soil’s make-up. Not all fertilizers are the same and it is important to choose the right one for your situation.
Dandelions can be easily identified and controlled, but a thick healthy turf is our best herbicide and most environmentally healthy. If you are not sure how to best control your dandelion population, consult a professional you trust to help make a plan that will turn your lawn into a pleasing outdoor environment you are proud of.