How to remove dandelions from lawn

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Kids love dandelions. Bees love them even more. However, they are a pest to every gardener who wants to have the perfect lawn. Read this guide if you want to remove dandelions from your lawn. We’ll also show you how to prevent them from appearing in your lawn too.

Remove dandelions without weedkiller

Dandelions grow a single bright yellow flower on a single stem out of a set of four or more low lying leaves. The root system consists of a single, deep rooted tap root. Pulling out the flower and leaves is not enough to kill dandelion. The only way of killing the dandelion without chemicals is to remove the entire plant including the tap root.

The tap root can run anywhere between 3 to 18 inches deep, although usually they are in the region of 4 to 5 inches long.

If any part of the tap root is left in the soil, it is possible for it to regenerate a new plant, so it is crucial that the entire tap root is removed.

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to remove the tap root by hand, as this generally leads to the tap root snapping off and being left in the ground.

The good news is that the removal of the plant is very straightforward.

Dandelion removal tools

There are tools designed especially for the removal of dandelions. They are usually based around the design of pushing a single pole into the ground directly over the plant. The end of the pole has three spokes that run down the length of the tap root. To loosen the tap root from the soil, twist the pole using its handles. Finally, pull the pole out of the soil using the handles and the dandelion plant will be removed from the lawn.

Dandelion removal tools

Using other tools instead

It’s possible to remove dandelions from a lawn using a similar technique with tools readily found around a garden. For instance, run a trowel or screwdriver shaft next to the centre of the plant. This should roughly run down the side of the tap root. Gently, wiggle the trowel or screwdriver to loosen the soil around the tap root. Grip the base of the plant and pull upwards to begin to remove the dandelion from the lawn.

By using the techniques above, you will notice that the dandelion populations will diminish year-on-year in your lawn. Therefore, each year it will become an easier, less time consuming task.

Remove dandelions with weedkiller

Various weedkillers are available to remove dandelions. The type of weedkiller that you should use, depends on the type of lawn i.e. an established lawn or new lawn respectively.

Remove dandelions from an established lawn

It’s best to apply a selective weedkiller on a weed that resides within a lawn. A selective weedkiller is one that kills broad leave plants, such as dandelions, without affecting narrow leave plants such as grass. Selective weedkillers suitable for established lawns contain the following chemicals – Dicamba, 2,4-D, clopyralid or fluroxypyr. Remember to read the instructions and ingredients before applying the weedkiller.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • Only apply weedkiller while the weeds are actively growing.  If not, the weedkiller will not cycle through the plants vascular system and therefore kill the plant.
  • Reapply the treatment if the dandelion does not die within 14 days.
  • Small outbreaks of dandelions can be treated with handheld weedkiller guns.
  • Larger outbreaks might need to be treated with a weedkiller pump sprayer.
  • Any grass clippings containing clopyralid shouldn’t be added to the compost heap from the first mow.  It’s fine to add the clippings from the 2nd to 5th mowings to the compost heap however, wait for 9 months before adding them to any borders.
  • Do not use a non-selective weedkiller such as glyphosate as it will kill any plant it comes into contact with, including your new turf.

Remove dandelions from new lawns

It’s best to apply a selective weedkiller on a weed that resides within a lawn. A selective weedkiller is one that kills broad leave plants, such as dandelions, without affecting narrow leave plants such as grass. Selective weedkillers suitable for new lawns contain should only contain fluroxypyr. Do not use weedkillers containing Dicamba, 2,4-D or clopyralid. Remember to read the instructions and ingredients before applying the weedkiller.

Here are some key points to remember:

  • Wait for at least six months before applying any weedkiller to a new lawn.
  • Weedkillers containing fluroxypyr can be used on new lawns after 3 months of laying the turf.
  • Only apply weedkiller while the weeds are actively growing.  If not, the weedkiller will not cycle through the plants vascular system and therefore kill the plant.
  • Reapply the treatment if the dandelion does not die within 14 days.
  • Small outbreaks of dandelions can be treated with handheld weedkiller guns.
  • Larger outbreaks might need to be treated with a weedkiller pump sprayer. It is unlikely that a new lawn will be affected by a large outbreak of dandelions.
  • Do not use a non-selective weedkiller such as glyphosate as it will kill any plant it comes into contact with, including your new turf.

Prevent dandelions from reappearing in the lawn

Following the steps above will remove dandelions from a lawn, however prevention of the growth and spread of dandelions is a better long term solution.

To reduce the chance of dandelions appearing, follow these steps:

  • Do not allow any existing dandelion plants to develop seed heads.  Remove the flower heads immediately. Luckily, they are easy to spot in your lawn as they are large yellow flowers.
  • Don’t mow the grass too short.  Longer grass blades will shade out the dandelions.
  • Don’t perform a heavy scarification until early autumn as this is when weed growth is slowing down.  Performing a heavy scarification in the spring or summer will be an invitation to weeds in general as your grass will struggle to compete against them.
  • Water your lawn heavily but less often.  Watering little and often will only wet the soil surface, allowing weeds to germinate and take hold.  Watering heavily but less frequently will encourage a deep root structure for your grass whilst reducing the chance of weed germination on the surface.
  • Apply fertilisers throughout the growing season.  Always read the instructions before applying treatment and pay attention as to how much and how often it should be applied.  This will lead to healthy grass growth which will compete well against dandelions and other weeds.
  • Reseed any bare areas in the autumn.  This will allow enough time for strong grass growth and will prevent dandelions from taking hold in the following spring and summer.
  • Use a pre-emergent weedkiller in late winter.  This will prevent the weed from growing in the early spring.
  • Apply corn gluten meal in the early spring.  Corn gluten will help prevent the germination of the dandelion (as well as other weeds) seeds.