Lawn and Garden

Dealing with Dandelions

Dandelions Dandelions appear to be everywhere—
to the delight of some folks and to the dismay of others. A rite of spring, dandelions can be ignored, consumed or dealt with.

Dr. Mary Beth Bennett, West Virginia University Extension agent in Berkeley County, acknowledged the dandelion dilemma when she shared helpful details about dandelions in a recent newspaper column.

Here is an excerpt from her article:

Remember how you enjoyed dandelions when you were a child? Do you remember blowing the little seed parachutes to see how far they would go?

Do you still enjoy dandelions? Most adults have a love/hate relationship with this perennial weed, which belongs to the Asteraceae (sunflower) family. The dandelion is one of the most common lawn weeds found in yards. But it does have value as a medicinal herb as well as a forage plant for livestock. And it is an early pollen source for pollinators.

Ways to Value the Plant

The entire dandelion plant is edible and has been used as a medicinal plant since Roman times. Several countries actually cultivate this plant for its medicinal properties.

When they are tender in the spring, dandelion leaves—or greens—can be added to salads. Dandelion flowers are used to make dandelion wine, which tastes similar to sherry and supposedly is an excellent tonic. The taproot can be roasted to make dandelion coffee.

Some beekeepers appreciate dandelions because they provide a valuable feed source for honeybees in the spring. To help the honeybees, you may want to reconsider getting rid of those yellow flowers in your yard.

Ways to Say Goodbye

One of the easiest ways to get rid of dandelion weeds in your lawn is to pull them out. But you need to make sure to get the deep taproot. If you don’t, the plants will grow back.

You can find several dandelion tools on the market that will “pop” the plant right out of the ground. These tools seem to work best if the soil is moist, not dry. So, now would be the right time to try this method.

You also can find several herbicides labeled for use for dandelions in landscape, turf and bare ground areas. Apply any herbicide according to label directions.

Here are other options:

  • Pour boiling water on the plant as a low-tech method of control.
  • Prevent the yellow blossoms from maturing into seeds by mowing the lawn frequently when dandelions are blooming.
  • Mulch them by using cardboard or plastic to prevent them from getting sunlight.
  • Try spraying a 5-percent concentration of vinegar directly on the plant leaves.
  • Use a weed burner torch.
  • Apply corn gluten meal, an organic method developed by Iowa State University.

About Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal (CGM) is a yellow powder created as a byproduct of milling corn and is primarily used in farm animal feeds and dog food. However, it is also used as a “pre-emergent” weed control for lawns.

A pre-emergent prevents roots from forming during seed germination. If a root cannot grow, the seedling is unable to obtain water or nourishment form the soil and will dry up and die.

As a dandelion control, CGM is best applied to the lawn about four to six weeks before weeds germinate. If you do not make that deadline, you can still apply CGM a few times during the growing season. The nitrogen in the meal will also keep your lawn green and healthy.