You may have happy memories of blowing those seed balls into the wind as a kid. Or maybe you held that dandelion under the chin of a friend to see if they “like butter” by finding out if a yellow reflection will appear on their chin.
Dandelions definitely bring some happy memories but as we get older they kind of lose their charm, especially when they overtake your yard. They seem to grow everywhere! In the sidewalk cracks, in the mulch – all over the lawn, where ever you look, you may find them.
So let’s talk a but about what exactly a dandelion is and how you can get rid of them – for good.
Dandelions are found throughout the US and Canada and survive well in all climates. They are considered a perennial and although we really do not like them, in the past they were respected for what many believed were medicinal purposes. Many even to this day will create “dandelion salads” because of the health benefits that are believed to still hold.
Dandelions grow very close to the ground and are typically 1-2″ in diameter and can be anywhere from 2″-24″ in height. These plants are incredibly awesome though in how the transform from a yellow perennial to a fluffy white ball that kids love to blow in the wind.
Below is a time-lapse video that was done back in 2010 where he captured the whole process over a course of one month. So although you may find dandelions annoying – they are pretty darn cool!
So Why Does Your Yard Have So Many Dandelions?
The life cycle of a dandelion goes like this:
- A seed in the ground grows into the yellow plant we all know and love
- The flower then folds back up to turn into the white fluffy ball filled with seeds
- The seeds are then blown away and land back on the ground
- The process then starts all over again – this time all over your lawn
Take into account that each dandelion flower can produce roughly 150-200 seeds – that is a lot of dandelions that are taking root in your yard.
So it’s easy to see why there are so many!
But should we simply regard the dandelion as a weed just because it grows so wildly across America?
Well, that’s up for debate.
What we will tell you is that there are some surprising benefits to dandelions—ones that we HAVE discovered. So if you plan on removing your dandelions, decide first whether you will throw them away or use them somewhere else.
How to Get Rid of Dandelions Naturally
I’m not a huge fan of chemicals when it comes to gardening and will do everything I can to not use them.
So here are 4 organic or natural methods for removing dandelions from your garden.
Pick them While they are Flowering
Dandelions will keep spreading to your garden, but you can reduce the chances of this happening by picking them before they seed. When manually removing a dandelion, make sure you dig deep into your soil to extract the entire tap root.
Enrich Your Soil
Dandelions deposit healthy nutrients into your soil, which is why they grow so well in poor soil, but they actually don’t grow so well in soil that is already rich.
Add phosphorus and nitrogen to your soil, or simply dumb a bag of rich compost where dandelions are growing. This won’t kill the dandelions immediately, but it will prevent more from sprouting.
The acid in vinegar acts as a herbicide against dandelions. Put vinegar in a spray bottle and spray your weeds with it. It won’t be long before they wither away and die.
Boiling Water Method
Pour a healthy dose of boiling hot water on the dandelions in your garden. Within two days the plant will simply drop dead—and it won’t have the capacity to seed during that time either.
Dig Out Dandelions
My method of choice for removing dandelions is definitely the manual way. This takes more effort and muscle – but is the best way to get to the “root” of the problem.
If you are going to try the old fashioned way, there are tools to help you and you have to make sure you remove the full tap root to prevent regrowth. This is the biggest issue people have – they may pull out the dandelion and think the problem is solved, but leave in the tap root allowing the dandelion to grow back.
The picture below shows how big the root of a dandelion really is – as you can see it can be long so digging it out completely will take some work.
Using Herbicides To Kill Dandelions
Maybe the above more natural options are not enough for tackling the tough issue of dandelions taking over your yard and you are looking for something stronger and that requires less manual labor.
Herbicides are the other option as opposed to the options above.
There are basically 2 types of herbicides available to you when deciding what the best dandelion killer is for your yard.
- Non-Selective Herbicides try to kill most or sometimes all plants and weeds in an area.
- Selective Herbicides are designed to only kill a specific type of weed or plant.
Herbicides of course are chemicals and come with their own other issues such as side-effects and potential sicknesses from breathing it in or touching it. If you are going to use a herbicide we highly recommend gloves and a mask during the application process and be sure to allow plenty of time for drying before letting your family and pets enjoy your yard!
Or you can select an organic herbicide option like Green Gobblers Vinegar Weed & Grass Killer
Best Dandelion Killers
We have taken a bit of time to research what people are saying about dandelions around the web and came up with a few highly recommended products. Below are 3 top picks for you to consider to get rid of the dandelions around your home.
Of course not all of these options will work for everyone – there are so many variables from the type of weed to your local weather that can play a part in the success of your dandelion removal. Most importantly is the proper testing and dilution – so make sure you test small areas and use the manufacturer guide to get the right calibration of the mixture.
2,4-D Amine Weed Killer from Southern AG is one of the top options for completely killing dandelions in your yard. It is able to be applied to most lawns without killing the lawn – but just the weeds that exist. 2,4-D is considered a selective herbicide so it works hard at only tackling what you do not want in your yard and keeping the good stuff safe and healthy.
Most customers find this to be a great solution post-emergence herbicide for their dandelion killing needs when it is diluted properly. Some reports have noted it can take a while for the dandelions to actually die, but they do and that is what matters!
- Effective on a large variety of broadleaf weeds and woody plants
- Control the amount you use based on what you need with different dilution levels
- Many customer reports of high success killing dandelions
- Reports of it killing plants
- Can take upwards of 2 weeks to work
- Some weeds like clover can take longer and require more applications
- Allow generous time for drying before allowing pets/children to walk or play on it
Avenger is an organic weed killer and non-selective herbicide that kills dandelions quickly. The ingredient that makes the magic happen is called D-limonene which is a citrus oil. It works by stripping away the waxy cuticle of the plant causing it to die from dehydration. Environmentally safe, this is an option that is non-toxic and is safe to use around children, pets and wildlife.
Overall the sentiment on this product has been good – especially for dandelions with many saying the dandelions were dead within the hour of spraying. It is a post-emergence herbicide so works very well on those dandelions that are already showing through the soil.
- Kills dandelions fast, some noted in as quick as a few hours
- Non-toxic which is safer for pets and people
- Made from lemons and other citrus fruits
- Controls most weeds, a variety of broadleaves and grasses.
- Since it is non-selective it can kill other plants and your lawn
- Many reports of roots not being killed
- Requires a stronger concentration than what manufacturer recommends for harder weeds
Ortho Weed B Gon is a popular option as a dandelion killer and overall gets great results for most users.
It focuses on killing the dandelions and over 250+ other weeds as well without harming your lawn. They guarantee this as long as you use it as directed!
- Does not kill your lawn
- Kills weeds down to the root
- Results can be seen in as few as a couple of hours
- Some southern residents say it does not work on southern types of weeds
- Strong smelling
- Costly for larger yards