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What are Dandelions?
To be rid of dandelions in your yard can be a very annoying and aggravating process. Whether you are a proud lawn owner or a professional landscaper, you must have pondered the thought of how to do without dandelions and other lawn weeds.
Of all the lawns, in all the towns, in all of the world, these persistent, pesky lawn weeds have to show up in your lawn. Dandelions and plantain are of the most widely found, which you have to endure, and suffer with in abundance.
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are perennial broadleaf weeds that will come back year after year. They appear early in the spring and continue growing until cold weather arrives in autumn.
Some gardeners don’t realize that dandelions are a perennial weed, and if not controlled each plant’s crown and root system will remain alive even after all the leaves have died in fall.
Related Article: Best Time To Water Grass
Timing is everything!
Most lay people attempt to control dandelions when spring first arrives. They attempt to (they think) successfully do this only at this time of the year.
When in actuality, waiting until spring to undertake the dandelion control measures, is where many people make their first mistake. Spring spraying of a dandelion weed killer is a booby trap, which the wise homeowner and landscaper should avoid at all costs.
During spring and early summer, dandelion populations are building up. Seeds have been produced, germinated and established themselves as young seedlings. They are particularly difficult to eradicate in the spring since they are actively growing.
Given two or three favorable months to grow, they will be ready to bloom next spring. If you have sprayed your lawn last spring with a dandelion killer, another crop is already present to greet you next April.
If you spray them again next spring, you will most likely again only get partial control.
Logically, late fall is the absolute best time to spray dandelions and successfully eradicate them. There are several reasons why fall spraying is much more effective than spring spraying.
In the first place, you catch every single seedling which has established itself since last spring. If the number of plants involved is large, give the entire area a “blanket” spray.
The weeds can be effectively controlled with herbicides only when they are small or not actively growing. During the fall, they are not actively growing and the sugars in their leaves are moving to their roots for winter storage.
You will get best movement of herbicides into the roots at this time. This should make for a dandelion-free lawn next spring. If only scattered plants occur, then “spot” spray or “spot” treat the individual plants.
Secondly, there is usually more time for this type of yard work in fall, as the season draws to a close. Consequently, you can pick a day which is most favorable for application and you may have to take a little more time to apply the chemical carefully.
Finally, the third reason, and this might just be the icing on the cake, other plants are much more resistant to injury. Maybe frost has already killed them.
Certainly, the heat and dry weather of summer have made them much more resistant to injury. This does not mean that you can go about and spraying at will with no regard to the surrounding plants. You still have to be very careful.
One of the best and natural ways is by simply pouring vinegar over the dandelions which changes the acidity in the soil long enough to kill the weeds.
For a faster punch, mix pickling vinegar with boiling water in equal parts for your dandelion killer. Pickling vinegar has more acid than distilled white vinegar, so it makes a more effective herbicide.
Another alternative is using salt as an herbicide. Salt, which includes table salt (sodium chloride, NaCl) and Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate, Mg2SO4), kills dandelions quickly by desiccating the leaves and roots, causing the plant to wilt and die.
Salt doesn’t stop with dandelions, however. It kills every plant it touches, even your grass.
Not all Salts are Herbicide
One type of salt that is actually used to help grow plants is potassium chloride (KCl). The vast majority of the potassium chloride produced is used for making fertilizer, called potash, since the growth of many plants is limited by potassium availability.
The two main types of potash are: muriate of potash (MOP, potassium chloride) and sulphate of potash (SOP, potassium sulphate K2SO4). Arcanite, archaically known as potash of sulfur, is a white, inorganic, water-soluble solid.
It is commonly used in mulch or peat moss providing both with a potassium and a sulfur source. While SOP typically sells at a premium to MOP, the vast majority of potash fertilizer worldwide is sold as MOP.
Traditional Weed Control
Nevertheless, if you are looking for more traditional ways to get rid of dandelions you can always use:
- Southern Ag 2,4-D Amine Weed Killer Selective Broadleaf Weed Control, 32oz – 1 Quart.
- Ortho Weed B Gon Chickweed, Clover and Oxalis Killer for Lawn Concentrate, 16-Ounce.
- Ortho Weed B Gon Weed Killer for Lawns Concentrate, 1-Gallon.
This is the quickest and least labor-intensive method for getting rid of dandelions: spraying them with a broadleaf herbicide that will kill the entire plant, not just the leaves, without harming the surrounding grass.
Since the killing frost does not kill many weed species, they continue to be green, making and storing food for quite a while into the fall – sometimes until the first snow falls.
When you spray the dandelions, you need to wait 24 to 48 hours after applying the herbicide to mow them down. Holding off on watering is also strongly advised.
Children and pets are cautiously and prudently warned to keep off the area for at least one day. If weeds pop up again after you mow, wait three to five days before spraying the herbicide again to let the leaves grow back.
Taking care of a lawn is hard work. Timing is an important key to having a green lush lawn.
Keeping the dandelions and other weeds at bay takes finesse and due diligence. It is worthwhile to have a gorgeous lawn to enjoy and appreciate its beauty.