As popular as the beautiful dandelions are with children, many hobby gardeners dread them. We have a few tips in store for removing dandelions.
The dandelion ( Taraxacum ) is a versatile herb, which for some is just a weed, for others, it is an important medicinal herb. You can find out how to best remove the daisy family ( Asteraceae ) from your lawn and garden in our special article.
The most important thing when removing dandelions is timing because once the dandelions are sown, it is too late. If you can’t find time to remove the dandelions before they bloom, you can buy yourself some time by mowing the lawn. When mowing, the flowers are cut off, so that reproduction is prevented for the time being – but the dandelion will of course continue to grow and will only flower a little later with this method.
Removing Dandelions: Different Methods
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What makes the dandelion so unpopular with gardeners? On the one hand, it displaces other plants that are less competitive. The dandelion grows over practically every location. On the other hand, it is difficult to remove because it has a long taproot and can spread rapidly with numerous seeds via the wind. Here are a few methods for you to tackle the dandelion.
Removing dandelions: mechanical methods
There are several methods to successfully get rid of the dandelion, such as the mechanical method of pricking. To do this, you need a tool like a weed picker, with which you can remove the dandelion and the taproot. You can of course try this with a simple garden shovel, but it’s a lot easier with special weed pickers. There are also special dandelion pullers on the market with a tip that resembles a corkscrew.
Such cutters and pullers work very well on lawns, but these devices soon reach their limits in the grooves between paving stones and on our terraces – in contrast to dandelions, because this herb is so strong that it can even blast asphalt. With such joints, you should rather use special joint scrapers.
There is still the method of flaming the weeds with a gas burner, but this method has no lasting effect on weeds, which like the dandelion have a strong root system. You should therefore use the method of gouging, which will also catch the roots of the dandelion.
Removing Dandelions: Chemical Methods
If the pricking out is too strenuous or time-consuming for you, you can also rely on chemicals that can effectively remove weeds such as dandelions. There are a number of weed killers that remove weeds from your lawn and often contain the following active ingredients:
- MCPA (2-methyl-4-chlorophenoxyacetic acid)
- Dicamba (3,6-dichloro-2-methoxybenzoic acid)
- 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid)
- Mecoprop-P (methylchlorophenoxypropionic acid)
Remedies like these remove weeds like the dandelion while protecting your lawn. However, you should only use the products on the lawn and not in your beds, because the active ingredients could damage your dicotyledonous vegetables or ornamental plants, such as legumes ( Fabaceae ) or composites ( Asteraceae ).
When using chemical pesticides, always observe the safety guidelines and personal protective equipment that is necessary for the application. Avoid skin and eye contact and always adhere to the application rates indicated and the correct application. In principle, the use of herbicides in your own small garden is not yet necessary because of some dandelion plants in the lawn or the beds, because mechanical methods and home remedies achieve good results in control.
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Removing dandelions: home remedies
A very special method for controlling dandelions is the use of small rodents such as hares, rabbits, or guinea pigs. If you or your children have such pets, you can simply eat them in your garden and kill the dandelions. These rodents are crazy about dandelions and by moving the outdoor enclosure or letting them run around freely, the rodents have the opportunity to eat the dandelions.
It is better to keep your hands off home remedies such as salt or vinegar, especially on paving and on terraces, because the rain will only wash these substances into the soil and groundwater, which is harmful to the environment. In addition, according to the Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1529, the use of salt or vinegar as weed control agents is prohibited and therefore even punishable.
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In order not to have to resort to drastic control methods in the first place, you can also prevent dandelions from settling in your garden in the first place. Dandelions are particularly popular in soils that are heavily supplied with nitrogen, which is why you should avoid excessive nitrogen fertilization in endangered areas. Verticulating is also very beneficial for lawn weeds such as dandelions because by opening the sward with the scarifier, you create perfect places where the incoming seeds can grow without any problems.
Therefore it is better to avoid scarifying. However, what helps against weeds on the lawn is regular lawn mowing. However, you should not wait too long – if the weeds have already formed seeds, the mowing only spreads the weeds on the lawn. Instead of killing the weeds, you can also worry about not using the dandelions for other purposes. For example, dandelions can be used in syrups, teas, or plant strengtheners. Here you can find out more about the use and application of the dandelion.