Dandelions are quite a nuisance for those who want to keep them under control. The hardest part about keeping dandelions in check is that their seeds spread through airborne travel and can land just about anywhere. So, it is important to prevent them from spreading if you don’t want your yard completely overtaken.
You can prevent dandelions from spreading by digging them up, using weed killer, and ensuring your lawn’s pH level is acidic rather than alkaline. Keep your lawn as healthy as possible, and mow it often, but don’t cut it too short. Dandelions spread after they bloom, so try to catch them early.
Let’s get into more detail about preventing dandelions from spreading and discuss ways to get rid of them for good.
1. Weed Control
Using weed control is a great way of preventing the spread of dandelions and other annoying weeds in your yard. It can help kill dandelions before they bloom and spread further across your lawn. However, you need to make sure you apply it correctly. To effectively apply weed treatment to dandelions, you must first observe how many dandelions you currently have.
You may want to consider spot treatment if you notice just a few dandelions in your yard. However, more than just a few means you should treat your entire lawn. If you need to treat the entire lawn, this can cost you a lot of money. So, catching them early and doing spot treatments can help you save money.
You should also consider treating your entire lawn if the dandelions have already bloomed. If the dandelions in your yard bloom, they will spread their seeds across your yard, making it even harder to control them. So, only use a spot treatment for those few dandelions that have yet to bloom. Otherwise, it is best to treat the entire yard.
You need to find a broadleaf herbicide to get the most out of your weed killer. This means that the product you use attacks leafy plants rather than grass. This can help save your lawn from harsh chemicals, as some other weed killers can also destroy your lawn. Some specific ingredients to look for are triclopyr, carfentrazone, or quinclorac, as they don’t affect the grass.
If you aren’t a fan of herbicides, there are some more natural methods to consider. Not only are there all-natural options available to purchase, but you can even create your own recipe at home if you’re on a budget. Using a combination of dish soap and vinegar should kill dandelions naturally, but this may not completely prevent them from returning.
So, if you want to ensure that the dandelions die and do not spread any further, it is best to use a broadleaf herbicide featuring the above mentioned ingredients. This will help protect your grass while ensuring that the dandelion seeds do not spread any further.
Remember to always use gloves when using any kind of chemical fertilizer. Always wash your hands immediately after application of the product and keep it in a safe place away from small children and pets.
2. Mow To Stunt Growth (Pre-Bloom)
If you already see plenty of growing dandelions in your yard, you should consider mowing them to prevent them from going to seed. Without seed heads, dandelions can’t spread and continue to grow throughout your yard. So, catching them early and consistently mowing can prevent the process from happening altogether.
Now, it is important to note that you should not cut your lawn too short. As I will talk more about later, you need a thick and healthy lawn to help prevent dandelions from coming back. Overcutting your lawn can do the opposite, allowing dandelions to take over rather than keeping them in check. So, mow your lawn regularly but do not mow it too short.
If the dandelions haven’t yet bloomed, then you don’t have to worry about them spreading yet. Essentially, you’re cutting off the growing process before they can start to spread. However, doing this just once or twice will not be enough to keep them from spreading; dandelions will continue to grow for as long as the weather permits.
Dandelions thrive in warmer temperatures, but don’t let this fool you into thinking they are gone. Dandelions still grow during the winter months. They just grow a lot slower. So, no matter how much you mow them down, this won’t kill the dandelions. They will still attempt to grow throughout the seasons until they can bloom.
So, mow your lawn regularly before they bloom to help avoid the spreading of dandelions in your yard. Remember, dandelions grow very fast during the warmer months. So, you will need to mow frequently to keep up with their growth if this is your chosen method to prevent spreading.
3. Mow With a Bag Attached (Post-Bloom)
If the dandelions in your yard have already bloomed, you can help prevent spreading by mowing with a bag attachment. Dandelion seeds spread easily, and mowing can help the seeds reach more of your yard by spreading the seeds with the lawn trimmings. So, help prevent this from happening by using a bag.
We understand this may not be possible for everyone. However, if your lawnmower has the option to use a bag, I highly recommend it.
You will need to dispose of the trimmings in a way that ensures they won’t return. This means that recycling those trimmings for your garden or other uses will allow dandelions to grow there as well. So, you need to dispose of those trimmings rather than reusing them – and don’t use them in your compost heap!
You should also remember not to reuse grass clippings that you have exposed to weed killer as they can harm other plants like flowers or vegetables in your garden. Broadleaf herbicides are great for keeping your grass alive, but they may kill other plants.
4. Dig Up the Entire Root
One of the most difficult parts of getting rid of dandelions is getting rid of their entire root system. Simply pulling a dandelion is rarely an effective way of ensuring that it won’t return as they have very deep roots. Even if you carefully pull a dandelion, you won’t manage to pull up all the roots and may just be pulling the head off.
Pulling up a dandelion by hand will stop it from spreading temporarily (just like mowing), but it will not prevent it from regrowing from its roots. Follow the instructions below to pull up a dandelion with its roots:
- The first step to ensuring you get the entire root is wetting the area. Use a watering can to deeply water the soil, which will help you remove the entire root more effectively.
- Once you give the water a few minutes to soak into the soil, you can dig up the root with a gardening knife or a small shovel. Work your way around the weed first to help separate the root from the surrounding soil.
- Then, carefully remove the dandelion, pulling the entire root system with it. Check the dirt for any remaining parts of the weed afterward.
You should be able to remove the dandelion easily if you have properly loosened the root from the soil. Otherwise, you may want to keep digging to ensure you get it all.
After pulling the weed and making sure you got the entire root, this is a good time to put weed killer in the soil. Doing this will help kill any remaining weed spores that you may have missed when extracting the dandelion.
If the dandelion returns, you probably didn’t get the entire root. Remember, these weeds are really hard to fully get rid of. So, simply try a different removal tactic, or try again with more care to remove the entire root.
5. Maintain a Healthy Lawn
In the case of dandelions popping up on your lawn, a strong defense is the best offense. Keeping your lawn full and healthy is a great way to prevent dandelions from returning. This is because full and healthy lawns don’t give a lot of room for dandelions and other troublesome weeds to grow.
If your lawn is cut too short or patchy in spots, then this can give dandelions the opportunity to grow. Unfortunately, the presence of a few dandelions can also give them a great chance of continuing to grow on your lawn.
Dandelions need sunlight to grow and bloom. So, keeping your lawn short and patchy gives them the perfect opportunity to grow. That is why I recommend not cutting your grass too short when you mow it. Keeping your grass long will help block growing dandelions from getting the sunlight they need.
If your lawn is full without patchy spots, then it can suffocate potential dandelion blooms. Dandelions grow by pushing through plants and grass, but keeping a full lawn can help the grass fight back. So, taking care of your lawn and ensuring it is healthy is important to prevent dandelions from blooming and spreading.
Some Easy Ways To Keep Your Lawn Healthy
Now that we know a healthy lawn helps combat the growth and spreading of dandelions, let’s talk about some easy ways you can keep your lawn healthy:
- Water your lawn two to three times per week.
- Water early in the day to avoid evaporation.
- Give your lawn the nutrients it needs.
- Don’t cut it too short.
- Mow it regularly and avoid overgrowth.
With just these few easy steps, you can have a healthier lawn that can stand on its own against dandelions and other weeds. It is better to cut your lawn more often rather than less. So, keep mowing your lawn regularly, especially during the growing season.
6. Catch Dandelions Early
If you already have some dandelions and just want to keep the problem from getting worse, it is best to try and catch them as early as possible. As soon as the weather starts getting warmer during very early spring, you should start looking for dandelions. They first bloom as yellow flowers and eventually turn white.
During the white bloom phase, the dandelions will spread more easily. It’s best to catch them before they reach this stage, while they’re still yellow.
As soon as you notice dandelions growing, you should work to get rid of them before they bloom and spread. Using the cutting method, weed killer, or simply pulling the root from the ground will help. These steps will also be a lot more effective when you catch the problem as early as possible.
Catching them as early as possible means checking your lawn periodically after the last frost. Once the weather starts to warm up, they may begin to appear, so inspecting the area early and using preventative methods to keep them away before the weather gets too warm is a good way to keep them in check.
7. Test and Alter Soil pH
If you want to do absolutely everything you can to prevent dandelions from spreading and continuing to return every year, you should consider checking the pH of your lawn. While grass will thrive in soil between 6.5 – 7 pH, dandelions grow the most in more alkaline soils of over 7.5 pH. So, you can use the pH level of your lawn to help your grass grow healthier and weaken the dandelions.
To check your soil’s pH level, you can use a soil tester to measure soil moisture and pH. All you need to do is to stick the meter into the ground and check the results instantly.
The neutral reading for soil pH is 7, while 6.5 is slightly acidic and 7.5 is slightly alkaline. If you test your lawn to find the pH level, you will probably be somewhere between 6 and 8 on the scale. If you are more on the alkaline side, you have a much better chance of dandelions thriving in your yard.
The goal is to keep your lawn right at a 6.5 pH level (depending on what you’re growing there), but a little more or less shouldn’t hurt. However, 7.5 pH and above invites dandelions to thrive. So based on the test results, you may need to lower the pH level of your lawn. The best way to do this is by adding sulfur to your lawn.
Applying sulfur to your lawn is simple, but it can take some time to be effective. There are plenty of products out there that use sulfur to lower the pH level of your lawn without harming it.
If you are looking for a good option, I recommend Earth Science Fast-Acting Sulfur Lawn Food from Amazon.com This is a great way to lower the pH level of your lawn without risking the health of your soil. If you’re looking for fast results, you can water your lawn after applying this lawn food to help the process along.
There are many options out there that help you bring down the pH level of your lawn, but too much sulfur can cause your lawn to burn. This is especially common for lawns that have poor drainage as the soluble salts can build up and burn the grassroots. If your grass typically has water standing in it after it rains, you may want to be very careful about how much sulfur you apply.
You should also always check the percentage of sulfur it contains. For example, our recommended product has about 40% sulfur combined with other ingredients, so it isn’t too harsh on your grass.
Even after applying lawn food, ensure you regularly test your soil’s pH level. This will ensure that the product is working, you don’t use too much, and help you judge whether or not you need more.
Dandelions can overtake your lawn or garden without much of a warning. Just one can bloom and spread seeds all over. So, it is best to catch them early and stop them from spreading before they get out of control.
Use our methods above to ensure that you get rid of those unwanted weeds and prevent them from returning. But don’t let seeing many dandelions dissuade you from taking action. It may be easier to handle just a few dandelions at a time, but you can still get rid of even a large number by following our guide.