Weed Control in My Yard
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Posted on October 26, 2023 by Lawn Doctor
Dandelions may remind you of summertime and your childhood, but these perennial weeds can be a problem in your lawn. They quickly spread and compete with other plants for nutrients. Dandelion comes from the French word “dent de lion,” or tooth of a lion. They’re usually found in Europe and North America. As a weed, they’re considered undesirable, since they pose challenges for landscapers and homeowners. Read further to learn about dandelions, including how to spot and prevent them from growing on your lawns.
In Europe, dandelions were introduced as a medicinal plant and an herb. Their flowers and leaves were used to make wine and salads, and the dandelion root is now used as tea. While they may have medicinal benefits, these plants are usually unwelcome. Dandelion infestations can be a problem, since they can be difficult to get rid of.
You can easily spot a dandelion by their yellow flowers and the leaves that grow from the bottom of their stems. Their leaves are lobed, and the flower grows on a single stem. You can find them almost everywhere, including between pavements and grassy fields.
You may notice that dandelions look white while others are yellow. They’re the same, just at different stages of development. Dandelions turn yellow when they bloom, but the petals dry out eventually, revealing a seed head with feathery white seeds.
The roots of a dandelion can be up to 3 feet long, and the flowers can grow up to 24 inches tall. Their flower heads are about 1-2 inches in diameter. Compared to other weeds, dandelions can also tolerate a wide range of conditions, which is why they’re found almost anywhere in the United States or Canada.
Dandelions seem easy to spot, but some plants can be easily mistaken for a dandelion. One of them is a Cat’s Ear. The flower head of a Cat’s Ear looks like a dandelion, except its stems are branching. A Cat’s Ear doesn’t have hollow stems like a dandelion, and their leaves are hairy.
If you’re not familiar with what a dandelion looks like, you may also mistake a Sow Thistle for one. Their flowers resemble a dandelion; they just don’t have hollow stems, and multiple flowers grow from each stalk.
Common groundsels also resemble dandelions because their round seed heads are identical to those of the dandelion. However, their flower heads are a little smaller, and the stems are a little taller. You need to be careful with the common groundsels; they’re poisonous and should never be consumed.
Compared to other plant roots, the bud grows from the uppermost area of a dandelion root, and it can produce a crown capable of producing another plant even when it’s cut off or below the soil surface. A root as short as 1 inch is also capable of producing new dandelion weeds.
Getting rid of dandelions by killing them is one way to control them. Another way to control dandelions is to create an environment where they don’t thrive or germinate. You can do this by cutting your lawn up to 3 inches because taller grass grows thicker, and dandelions can’t sprout when the grass is taller and thicker. Try to also use pre-emergent herbicides such as Preen, as it’s effective at interfering with germination.
You can completely get rid of dandelions by spraying herbicide. Make sure they can kill both the leaves and the roots to ensure they don’t grow back. Try to get the dandelions at their most vulnerable stage or when they’re still young. Young dandelion roots are thin and easy to pull. Also, the leaves still haven’t fully developed, so spraying them with weed killer is usually effective.
Inspect your lawn during the spring or fall, and watch out for young dandelions. Use a weed killer that contains acetic acid, clove oil or fatty acid soaps as they’re effective at killing them. Some homeowners may use household vinegar in killing dandelions but it’s usually not effective. Use a herbicide instead.
The best time to get rid of dandelion is during the fall or late summer. During this time, the plants naturally direct energy into their roots, ensuring the chemicals from the herbicides reach the roots and kill the dandelions. At what time of the day to spray the herbicide depends on where you live. The rule of thumb is to apply it when the temperatures are higher. If you live in warmer climates, it’s highly recommended to apply herbicides in the early morning or late afternoon to ensure the chemical is absorbed. In cooler climates, apply the herbicide in the late morning when all excess moisture has evaporated.
No lawn is immune to dandelions, but regular weed prevention can help. Here are a few tactics you can try, but sometimes the best approach is to bring in a professional to ensure the infestation is fully addressed.
To prevent dandelion weeds from growing on your lawn, try not to leave clippings when mowing. Try to leave the mulched clippings because they hinder the growth of new weeds. Apply a preemergent herbicide to your gardens and lawns in the late winter to prevent the spread of dandelion seed. Also, we recommend cutting your lawn at a higher mower setting and keeping the grass thick and tall.
Some homeowners may also try to remove the dandelion, hoping they don’t grow back. We don’t recommend this because dandelion roots can grow up to 3 inches tall, and it can be difficult to remove them by just pulling them out. Unless you can remove the entire root, we recommend doing lawn maintenance and some of the things we’ve mentioned above. Another thing you can do to prevent dandelions from growing is to improve your lawn’s soil conditions. You can do this by spreading compost on the lawn, leaving the clippings and waiting for the organic matter to help improve the soil.
A dandelion weed can produce up to 15,000 tiny seeds, which can germinate in 7-21 days and in cool soils. They usually also produce larger roots when the soil is rich, deep and moist. With that many seeds and such a quick germination period, prevention needs to be swift and effective.
Below are some frequently asked questions about dandelions:
Although dandelions are considered weeds, they’re indeed edible. A cup of dandelion may contain iron. Just make sure you don’t mistake other plants for dandelions because some weeds that look similar are poisonous and must never be consumed.
Because they can survive almost all weather conditions, you’ll find dandelions almost everywhere — in the lawn, parking lots, sidewalks and even driveways. They can sprout almost anywhere.
It can take 7-14 days for the herbicide to work. Keep in mind that you may not be able to permanently get rid of dandelion. However, you can create an environment where they don’t thrive.
Some methods for dandelion control, including the use of herbicide, may help kill these pesky weeds or avoid weed invasions. However, it may be difficult to permanently get rid of dandelions in lawns. Dandelion seeds from your neighbors’ lawns can spread and take root in your yard.
Yes, pullers can help get rid of dandelions, since they also remove the roots. They’re recommended because pullers won’t damage other plants.
Do you need help caring for your lawn and ensuring it’s weed-free? Lawn Doctor is a local company with 50 years of experience. We offer a variety of treatments to keep your lawn healthy. Contact us today.
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