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Believe it or not- there is a simple and natural way to get rid of dandelions. In this post, I will share the one thing I do to get rid of dandelions without chemicals. In this case, that also means no soap or salt or any other mixtures or liquids you might find in other posts online. I’m talking completely natural here!
Dandelions are the cockroaches of wildflowers.
They’ll flourish anywhere and are really hard to eradicate. They spread at an astounding speed and will choke out the surrounding plants. And when a yellow flower opens, you’ve got about a week to get rid of it before it goes to seed. Each dandelion flower can spread up to 100 seeds. Talk about a super spreader.
Oh, and did I mention that they are perennials?
That’s right. Winter is not going to kill them off. Dandelion plants will grow bigger and badder every year if left to their own devices.
So if you think they’re going to go away if you just ignore them, you’re going to be sorely disappointed when they get exponentially worse.
I didn’t learn that dandelions were perennials until I was taking care of my first yard in our first home many years ago. I feel bad for our old neighbors- they probably cringed often from our lack of yard maintenance knowledge.
But we learned a lot about home and yard maintenance from our first house.
And I learned to hate dandelions in my yard. Shh, don’t tell my daughter who still mentions how beautiful she thinks they are in other yards. But the dandelions would quickly take over everything and kill off our grass. Not cool, dandelions.
Back then, we paid a lawn service to spray our yard with chemicals to keep the dandelions at bay. Looking back, I feel guilty about it.
There are many issues with handling dandelion problems with chemicals.
Just to name a few:
- Known to cause cancer and a plethora of other health issues
- Bad for pets and children playing in the yard
- Ends up in the public water supplies from runoff
- Kills perfectly good plants too, like clover
- Depletes the bee population
- Dangers of Lawn Chemicals | Planet Natural
- Lawn Pesticides Are Not Safe or Necessary | Clean Water Action
- Clover Lawns: The Benefits and How Clover Went Out of Style (lawnstarter.com)
- To Help Bees, Skip Herbicides and Pesticides, Keep Lawns Naturally Diverse | Office of News & Media Relations | UMass Amherst
In conclusion, lawn chemicals are pretty harsh stuff and should be avoided.
It makes sense when you think about how, in essence, you’re applying killer poisons all over your yard.
It wasn’t until we moved to our current home that I finally came up with a way to maintain our yard and keep the dandelions at bay without paying a lawn care service or using any chemicals. I was trying to take care of our new yard myself to be both more environmentally friendly and save money.
So how do you get dandelions under control without spraying chemicals?
There is just one thing that I do to prevent the spread of dandelions and maintain our yard without chemicals:
Weed the dandelion plants, old-school style.
Yup, that means I get on the ground and pull those suckers up. It really does come down to weeding the dandelions. But I’m sharing my tips and tricks so you too can use old-school weeding to maintain your yard in minutes every few days.
If you’ve been paying for grass treatments, this is an even better time for you to save your money and try this instead. You won’t have many dandelions anyway and you can just maintain your yard going forward with the simple tips I’m going to share. That means less time and effort needed to keep your yard mostly dandelion-free right from the get go. Not to mention the savings from handling it yourself and the environmental benefits of not using harmful chemicals.
Of course, some of you may be saying, “that sounds great, but I haven’t been paying for grass treatments and my yard is out of control with dandelions! What options do I have? What am I supposed to do?” Don’t despair. If you already have a lot of dandelions in your yard, these tips will still work for you too. It may seem overwhelming right now, but if you follow my instructions, you’ll see major improvements and spend less time weeding within a week. You’ve got this.
If weeding sounds awful to you, try it anyway. You may just discover a new favorite hobby. I know I did.
Weeding dandelions by hand has many benefits.
Here are just a few beneficial reasons to weed your dandelions:
- Get sunshine and fresh air, vitamin D
- A bit of exercise
- Time to think or relax – your choice (listen to podcasts or nature)
- Boost your mood
- Naturally aerate your soil
- Give your grass and clover a chance to grow thicker
- Free therapy
- Dandelions are edible – since you know they haven’t been sprayed for chemicals, you can harvest for salads, teas, and more
- It’s thrifty and green (save money on lawn care services and maintain your yard without chemicals)
Ok, so let’s get into how you’re going to weed the dandelions in your yard so it takes the least time possible and becomes easy to maintain. Without further ado, here are my simple instructions for quick and easy dandelion maintenance in your yard:
Steps to quickly and easily get rid of dandelions without chemicals
Step 1: Start by picking the white flowers off the dandelion plants (i.e. the ones that have gone to seed).
Get a plastic bag and carefully put the seeded heads in as you make your way around your yard. Try not to scatter any seeds as you do this. I put the entire white flower head in my fist from overhead and then snap the stem off with my fingers. The seeds have less chance of getting away when I use this technique.
Don’t worry about pulling up the whole dandelion plant while you’re doing this. You’re not weeding yet. Just concentrate on getting those white flowers out of your yard.
This is the quickest way to prevent the seeds from spreading.
Don’t put these in your compost – dandelions have a way of surviving and growing so don’t give them the chance. I tie up the plastic bag tightly and throw it out with the trash.
Once you’ve gotten rid of those white flowers, then you can move onto the key maintenance tip – which is weeding any dandelion with a yellow flower.
Step 2: Weed the dandelion plants that have a yellow flower.
Look for any dandelions with yellow flowers.
This is pretty easy as the yellow stands out against the green. I’ll quickly scan the yard, looking for little yellow spots.
Those are the only dandelion plants that you need to concentrate on weeding that day.
Get as much of the plant roots as possible.
This is key! Otherwise, those pesky perennial dandelions can grow back. So don’t just snap them off at ground level.
The easiest way to get the most roots is with a weeding tool.
If you don’t have one, do yourself a big favor and grab one as soon as possible. This tool is hands down the one I use the most in my yard. It’s soo worth the few bucks that it costs. You can snag one for $7 on Amazon:
Use this dandelion weeding technique
Move the dandelion leaves aside and put the weeding tool right up again the stem of the plant. Then push straight down into the dirt next to the stem and pry up like you’re trying to lift the weed out of the ground on a seesaw. If you’ve done this right and the tool has connected with the roots, you should feel a little pop. That’s the root system coming loose. Now you can easily lift the entire dandelion plant, root system and all, out of the ground.
See this technique in action:
There’s something very satisfying about pulling up a weed and seeing that you got the roots.
It also helps to weed right after it rains. When the soil is wet, those roots will come out of the ground much easier. After a rain, I’ll spend extra time in the yard weeding because it’s so much fun!
Weed for dandelions between late morning and early evening.
This is the best time to look for the yellow flowers because you’re more likely to spot the flowering dandelions while the flowers are open. Any earlier in the day and they haven’t opened yet. Any later in the day and they start to close, making them harder to spot.
Check your yard every day for dandelions.
If your yard is overrun with dandelions, your job is to spend at least 15 minutes a day weeding all the dandelions that have yellow flowers. If 15 minutes isn’t enough time to get to all of them, spend a few more minutes snapping the yellow flowers off the stems and putting them into a plastic bag.
Do this daily and you’ll see an extreme improvement in only a week.
Once you can finish your whole yard in 15 minutes or less, you’ve reached maintenance mode. Then you only need to check for flowering dandelions every other day.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read)
Ok, I know I got a little wordy about weeding dandelions. If you don’t want all the extra details, here are the cliff notes to get rid of dandelions without chemicals quickly and easily:
First day: Get a plastic bag and walk around your yard collecting all of the dandelion flowers, both those that have gone to seed (white puffs) and the yellow ones. Just snap the flowers off of the stems. Don’t worry about weeding the plants.
Subsequent days: Check your yard for dandelions with yellow (or white) flowers. Use a weeding tool to weed only the dandelion plants with flowers. Get as much of the roots as possible.
Maintenance mode: You want to get to the point where the weeding takes less than 15 minutes every other day. Whenever you don’t have the time to weed every flowering dandelion, revert to the first day instructions and snap the flowers off the stems.
So there you have it, friends.
By implementing these simple weeding tips, you will immediately stop the spread and quickly get rid of the dandelions in your yard in a few days’ time. Then you can easily continue in maintenance mode going forward.
Give it a try.
You’ll be saving money and the environment when you get rid of your dandelions this year!