Dandelions in North America are technically an invasive species that was once allowed to spread of its own accord. This was thanks in large part to European folklore about it’s medicinal and purposeful uses. While you can indeed eat some parts of the dandelion, and even ferment it into an arguably crisp homemade dandelion wine, it still stands as one of the top nuisance plants for suburban gardeners.
More than one old man with a sore back has groaned as they watched a child blow on a “Wishing Flower.” Of course, the windborne seeds of the dandelion is just one way that this invasive flower manages to establish itself in beds and stands around the world.
To really understand the best way to kill dandelions, we’ll need to take a closer look at this pretty, yet nuisance flower.
A Brief History Of The Dandelion
The historical record of the dandelion stretches back to ancient Persia where it was “Tarashquq.” However, the name “Dandelion” is believed to be coined in Medieval France where it was called “Dens Dee Lion” which loosely translates into “The Teeth Of The Lion.”
Just like rats and smallpox dandelions made their way from the old world to the new with European immigrants. On the face of it, you can understand why, as it does have nutritional and medicinal properties. Some of which are steeped in folklore, some of which have some scientific backing.
The dandelion was also prized by European honey beekeepers, as it is one of the first viable flowers to emerge in the early spring. Thus becoming a great food source for honey bee hives that struggled to make it through the long, cold North American winters.
Health Impacts Of Dandelions
There is more than a fair share of information about the medicinal effects of dandelions. More than enough to fill a book. However, dandelions can still have some negative health impacts. There are indeed people who are specifically allergic to dandelion pollen. It’s also known to be able to contribute to symptoms of hay fever sufferers.
Can Dandelion’s Damage Your Lawn?
At first glance, you might look at the golden gleam of a dandelion head and think “What harm can a dandelion do to my lawn?”
The truth is the impact of a single dandelion, when it’s first getting established is minor. It’s when the taproot and root mass of the dandelion spreads that it can cause problems. Even a single dandelion can rob the surrounding grass of essential nutrients. It also has the ability to damage the delicate microbial environment of the turf layers that support the heathy roots of your grass.
Of course, dandelions appreciate a lot of the same nutrients as grass, and under the right conditions can absorb those nutrients faster than the surrounding blades can absorb. Not only can this cause competition between the dandelion and the grass, but it also helps boost the dandelion’s natural life cycle when you fertilize it. This can quickly promote the flower turning into a seed head that disburses scores of seeds on the wind.
As time goes on, even a few dandelions in one area can turn into a full bed of dandelions. Once they reach the bed level of infestation the dandelions can start to choke out the surrounding grass as they deepen their taproot and spread their root mass presence into the surrounding turn as well as down into the deeper levels of the soil.
Are Dandelions Perennial Or Annual Weeds?
Dandelions are perennial weeds that will keep coming back year after year if they are not dealt with effectively. Yet they also have the ability to spread their seeds on the wind just as if they were an annual flower. This makes them very hard to deal with once they have firmly established a presence in your lawn, or even your neighbor’s lawn.
Can I Manually Pull Dandelions?
Early on in their life cycle, a single dandelion has a relatively weak root base and the taproot itself is relatively shallow. Often limited to the mid to upper levels of the turf. At this stage, it is possible to physically remove them from your lawn. Unfortunately, it’s still not the sort of thing you can do with your hands, and a spade shovel tends to be overkill. While you can improvise with a sturdy garden hoe, the best tool for the job is a dandelion puller.
To use it, all you have to do is insert the dandelion puller’s claws over the Dandelion, you want to eradicate. Then you step down firmly on the foot lever. This inserts the steel claws into the turf and the underlying soil layers to grasp the majority of the roots. You can then pull it out cleanly.
It’s also capable of extracting a lot of other common lawn weeds. So, it’s not just a dandelion uni-tasker. If caught early, the divot left behind by the dandelion puller will be minimal, and with a hearty watering the surrounding soil and roots of the grass will fill it in after a few days. A more significant divot might need to be filled with half a scoop of garden soil.
The Best Dandelion Puller Tools
Hand Weeder Tool
1 used from $9.41
- Premium Material: these gardening weed removal is made of aluminium alloy, durable and sturdy, not easy to break or deform, rust-resistant, one-piece aluminum shaft leverages against ground, can tackle dandelions and other weeds easily while leaving the surrounding plant well, practical tool for gardening.
- Comfortable Handle: The weed puller tool is designed with ergonomic handle, and the handle features a whole design, there are no screws to come loose so the handles will not come off easily, nice for gardeners who have difficulty holding tools with small or narrow handles and also make weeding out roots a lot easier, allow easy wrist movement and reduce hand fatigue while working.
Weed Puller, Stand Up Weeder Hand Tool
- Standup Weeding Tool For A Better Gardening Experience: Get rid of weeds without risking your back with this long handled lawn weeding tool. The 39” tall handle lets you uproot the weeds without having to bend over or go down to your knees. The foot pedal lets you put enough force on the gardening weed extractor to penetrate the ground and grab the whole weed, including the roots, so it doesn’t grow back. It is good tools for your garden, backyard, frontyard landscaping
AMES Steel Stand Up Weeder, 40-Inch
- Removes and eliminates weeds at their roots
- Unique compact design makes weed removal easy
- Ejection slide allows you to simply Release the weeds out
- No bending, chemicals or divots of damage as you work
- Lightweight and durable for long-term use
Weed Puller Tool, Garden Stand Up Weeder with 3 Claws for Dandelion
1 used from $21.39
- Durable Material: Our stand-up weed puller has 36.6 inches long shaft of the powder coated steel pole for superior strength and rust prevention. 3 steel claws attach protection part, which is wear resistant, durable, and sturdy. The spring-operated design of our weed extractor allows you to easily and comfortably pull weeds from high places and comfortably discard weeds.
- Labor Saving Design: When using our weed puller tool, you can easily pull weeds from your garden without bending or kneeling, ensuring minimal fatigue. The 36.6 inches high handle allows you to uproot weeds while standing.
Dandelion Chemical Weed Killers
Many homeowners who are suffering from a lawn choked with dandelions will often turn to chemical remediation to kill all the active dandelions. Recent improvements in lawn chemical technology have made direct application dandelion killers safer than ever. Though you might want to give your lawn a solid 24 to 48 hours after treatment before turning kids and pets loose.
Dandelion Killers For Spot Application
Ortho WeedClear Lawn Weed Killer
- Kill weeds in your lawn, including dollarweed, dandelions, Clover, and chickweed with Ortho weed clear lawn Weed Killer
- Get results in hours
- Kills weeds to the roots but won't harm the lawn grass (when used as directed)
- For use on grasses, including bahiagrass, bentgrass, Centipede grass, zoysiagrass, and St. Augustine (except Floratam)
- Trigger sprayer makes it easy to spot treat weeds
- May not be available in all States
Tenacity Turf Herbicide
- Tenacity is a systemic pre-emergence and post-emergence herbicide for the selective contact and residual control of weeds in turfgrasses.
- When applied as a pre-emergent, weeds absorb Tenacity during emergence from the soil.
- Target pests: Barnyardgrass, Carpetweed, Chickweed, Clover, Crabgrass (large & smooth), Dandelion, Foxtail, Goosegrass, Henbit, Yellow Nutsedge, Purslane, Thistle, Wild Carrot and others
Ortho B Gon Weed Killer
- Kills crabgrass, dandelions and other common lawn weeds
- Kills weeds to the roots
- Kills 200+ weeds
- Won’t harm the lawn – Guaranteed (When used as directed)
- Starts working immediately
Southern Ag Amine 24-D Weed Kille
- Selective Broadleaf Weed Control
- For use in pastures & rangeland, lawns, golf courses, cemeteries, parks,& similar ornamental turf.
There are also some dandelion and weed killers that are meant for large scale applications. You essentially spray the entire lawn, and it not only kills the dandelions as well as many other invasive weeds but it also then acts as a weed preventer. This is probably the preferred option if one or two if your neighbors are lax about dandelion control of their own lawn.
Dandelion Prevention & Killer For Your Whole Lawn
Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer
- 1 Application blocks weeds up to 6 months guaranteed
- When used as directed Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer can be used around more than 600 perennials, groundcovers, shrubs and trees as listed on the product label
- Flip-top applicator cap makes it easy to apply
- Not intended for use on flower seeds, lawns, vegetable gardens, water gardens or other food-producing or edible plants
- Not available for sale in NY
Espoma Organic Weed Preventer
- Made from corn gluten meal
- Feeds lawns to ensure a deep, green color and prevents weeds by inhibiting root development in seedlings
- Apply twice per year, early spring and fall
- Granulated for easy application, Espoma Organic Weed Preventer provides long lasting nitrogen for a thicker, greener lawn
- Children and pets can safely play on lawn after application.
Spectracide Weed Stop For Lawns
- WON’T HARM LAWNS: Won’t harm lawns when used as directed – kills more than 200 types of weeds as listed.
- PRE-EMERGENT CRABGRASS KILLER: Prevents crabgrass and other undesirable annual grasses.
- UP TO 5 MONTHS CONTROL: Apply with a spreader at the rates directed on the product label.
- APPLY SPRING THROUGH FALL: Apply when weeds are actively growing.
- COVERAGE: This 10.8 pound bag covers up to 3,000 square feet of lawn.
Scotts Weed Control for Lawns
- Kills even the toughest weeds, like dandelion and clover
- Specially formulated to control more than 200 weed types
- Starts working on contact
- Kills the root so weeds don’t come back
- Granular weed control that kills tough lawn weeds, not the lawn
Scotts Liquid Turf Builder Lawn Fertilizer with Plus 2 Weed Control
- Gives your lawn a quick boost of nitrogen while controlling weeds
- Kills dandelions, clover and other major lawn weeds
- Simply attach hose and spray
- Spray when weeds are actively growing
- Easy to use