Running through a garden during the summertime and blowing white and yellow puffball flowers is an activity cherished by kids. However, adults trying their hand at gardening are more interested in learning how to eliminate such pesky plants damaging their immaculate lawn.
The white flower is exemplary and derives its comical name from a French word meaning “lion’s tooth.” The soft bristles on the dandelion look similar to a lion’s teeth and have been the inspiration behind the name.
The colonists brought dandelions to the North American continent, and the plant is technically a herb. The white and yellow flowers are used in making tea, wine, and multiple culinary delights as they are enriched with nutritious vitamins and essential minerals with antioxidizing properties.
These days, DIY gardeners find this flower to be a curse to their garden as getting rid of them can be pretty tricky without damaging other crops in your lawn. This guide will give lawn owners the necessary information regarding dandelions and various methods to eradicate them.
You can resort to organic methods, such as pulling dandelions by hands or with a weed puller, else you could adapt mulching. And if that is not effective, you can go the inorganic way by using a herbicide. But the most drastic would be to use a combination of organic and inorganic.
What Are Dandelions?
A dandelion is a flowering herb with a single fuzzy white or yellow flower sprouting from a base of rugged green leaves. This perennial weed is found all over the USA and in parts of Southern Canada, Europe, and Asia.
The plant’s flowering period takes place in spring, and the fluffy heads continue to wither throughout the year and give rise to an army of flying seeds. Once the flower has dried, a gentle breeze or a child blowing on the flower is capable of spreading the seeds across your lawn.
Due to their ability to be seeded easily, these plants can grow in the most unwanted spaces and bother many gardeners. For instance, these weeds are capable of multiplying in your assorted pink flower bed, disrupting the aesthetics of your beautiful lawn.
What makes this weed an even more significant nuisance is the long and hardy tap root which lies underground. This 10-inch long tap root lies dormant during the winter, allowing the flower to die and begins supplying nutrients to the leaves when soil temperatures go above 50 degrees Fahrenheit, thus restarting the flowering cycle.
Are Dandelions Good For A Garden?
Contrary to popular belief, dandelions are beneficial to a garden’s ecosystem. Their complex root system boosts the health of the ground by aerating the compacted soil. This allows water and essential nutrients to reach the deepest crevices of the land, encouraging root and plant growth.
Furthermore, the root system, which can stretch up to three feet, absorbs nutrients from the soil, bringing them closer to the surface for other plants to absorb. What’s more, this effective root system also aids in reducing soil erosion by holding the loose soil in place.
However, these plants tend to grow in abundance and can quickly swipe your beloved garden of all the moisture and nutrients other plants require to survive. The trick in this situation is to maintain a viable balance by removing excess dandelions.
Materials Required For Removing Dandelions From Your Garden
- Pitchfork or garden spade
- Gardening gloves (optional)
- Protective clothing
- Hose or sprinkler
- Dandelion puller
- A specific type of broadleaf herbicide
- Weed-resistant grass seeds
How To Get Rid Of Dandelions From Your Garden?
Eradicating these vexing plants from your garden can be a challenging and arduous task. The main reason behind this is the sturdy tap root system which can potentially go 10 inches deep in the ground. To top that off, their seeds can be easily spread across a vast expanse of land by weak or mediocre winds.
Lawn owners also face a different challenge due to the weeds being perennial. This means dandelions will sprout every year even if you chop them off. So, to rid your garden of these weeds, every gardener is required to get to the root of the problem.
The best time to start the culling of dandelions is around fall. At this time of the year, when temperatures drop, the plant begins moving nutrients down to the root for survival during the cold winter season.
Garden owners can rejoice knowing there are several ways to rid their lawn of a dandelion infestation. While some of these methods can help you purge dandelions naturally, there are other ways to chemically free your garden of these weeds.
Let’s take a look at the various ways to remove dandelions from your garden.
Natural Methods To Remove Dandelions From Your Yard
Here are three natural methods to kill the presence of dandelions from your backyard:
#1. Pulling Dandelions By Hand
If the dandelion infestation in your garden is limited to a few plants, using this method can help you quickly solve your problem.
- Timing is essential when using this method. The best time is when the plant is flowering and seeds are yet to be developed.
- Begin by watering your lawn and dampening the soil to make pulling the dandelions simpler.
- Use a garden spade or a weeding tool to loosen the root embedded in the soil.
- Gently tug the stalk and pull out the plant with the entire root intact.
- Cautiously pour a natural fungicide or vinegar in the newly formed hole to kill any leftover roots.
Pro Tip: Be warned that pouring vinegar to kill the root will damage surrounding grass and other plants.
#2. Pulling Dandelions With A Weed Puller
Using a special tool designed for this purpose is a natural method of killing dandelions and other weeds like Canada thistle, which is less strenuous than pulling them by hand.
- Dampen your garden to loosen the taproots of the dandelions.
- Place the serrated part of the puller and step on the platform driving the tool into the ground.
- Tug the puller gently, allowing the claws to close around the roots and the plant.
- Proceed by pulling the tool out of the land to remove the entire plant.
Dandelion extractors leave a smaller hole than pulling by hand, and thus pouring vinegar should be done with extreme caution.
Another natural method of getting rid of dandelions from your garden is by spreading a layer of mulch. Mulch can be collected when using a lawnmower to clip the grass in your garden.
The idea behind mulching is to deprive the weeds of the sunlight the plants need to bloom. In just a few steps, you can purge dandelions from your yard.
- Proceed by snipping the stems and flowers of the plant.
- Once the lawn is clear, cover the ground with a thick layer of mulch.
The mulch should be at least 3 inches thick to prevent any sunlight from reaching the plant.
Chemically Removing Dandelions From Your Garden
If dandelions have overtaken your garden and hand pulling or using a tool seems non-feasible, a practical option for gardeners might be chemically controlling these weeds. Lawn owners can often see results in just a few hours by using chemicals.
Such a quick solution comes with drawbacks. These chemical herbicides contain toxic components that severely damage humans and all wildlife. While these chemicals will remove all signs of dandelions in an instant, they’ll also deplete the soil of many beneficial nutrients.
Here are three tips on applying chemical herbicides to your garden:
- Read the instructions on the label and choose the herbicide which will not harm the surrounding plants.
- The appropriate time to apply the pesticide is when the plants are young. Moistening the soil also helps the toxins to filter to the deepest levels.
- In case your dandelions are already blooming, going with a post-flowering broadleaf pesticide can be your best bet.
How To Prevent Dandelions From Coming Back?
Eradicating dandelions from your garden is only half the job. These pesky flowers have a strong tendency to come back and haunt lawns if their roots haven’t been entirely removed. Further, to make matters worse, dandelions are perennials, meaning they’ll keep coming back year after year unless lawn owners properly manage their lawn.
Lawn management can be done in three easy ways:
1. Fertilizing your garden
Using fertilizers in your garden ensures your plants remain healthy. Apart from boosting plant growth, it also creates a sustainable growing competition among plants which helps in blocking weeds trying to dominate your precious garden.
The best time for gardeners to use fertilizers is during the growing season. By following a spraying cycle every six to eight weeks, yard owners can boost the health of their garden.
2. Mow High
Keeping a high grass line helps in shading the soil. This prevents unwanted seeds from germinating. In addition, this practice aids in developing a thick and dense cover of grass in your garden.
3. Prevention Of Seeding
This method should be used in extreme conditions when the dandelion population gets out of control. The thought behind this method is to eliminate any probability of seeds sprouting on your lawn.
This can be achieved by using a pre-emergent pesticide like corn gluten. This herbicide will eliminate all dandelion seeds in your lawn and prevent them from germinating. What’s better, corn gluten is chemical-free, meaning it won’t leave harmful toxins in your garden and damage your soil.
Are Dandelions Edible?
Although the plant is notorious for being a weed, it was initially a herb brought to the States by the colonists. Since ancient times, the flowers have been fermented to make wine, while other parts like the leaves and stalk have been used in plant medicine.
These plants also have a low toxicity level making them safe for human consumption. The leaves and petals of the flower are a rich source of vitamins A, K, and C when eaten raw and don’t lose any nutritional value even when cooked.
This tiny flower is also a great source of vitamin E and minute amounts of various B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium. And to add on, these compounds have potent antioxidant capabilities which prevent multiple diseases while having an anti-aging effect.
Though these flowers have a fair share of advantages, they can often hinder ongoing medications and cause severe allergic reactions. Keep in mind, it is of utmost importance to refrain from eating flowers treated with herbicides.
Lawn owners can now sigh with relief, knowing they have multiple solutions to get rid of dandelions from their gardens. Yes, herbicides and pesticides work wonders on your lawn, but there is a risk of chemical traces remaining in the garden and damaging your soil.
Remember, natural methods are a safer choice for your garden, but it might take a while before you see any results.
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