We know spring has arrived in Ottawa when we look out our yards and they are dotted with yellow. It seems like dandelions just showed up in mass droves overnight, with little warning. Then, you look out the next day and there’s even more. As kids, we loved picking bouquets of them for our moms or blowing the puffs of seeds all over the yard. As adults, they drive us nuts and we’d just wish they’d die. Here’s all the ins and outs of this crazy weed.
Dandelions have long been prized for their medicinal uses and edibility. Their leaves are good sources of calcium, iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A & C. Baby leaves are often included in salads, or blanched and sautéed to remove some of its bitter flavour as they mature. Its flowers have been known to make dandelion wine and was historically an ingredient in root beer. Medicinally, it has been used all over the world as an herbal remedy to treat liver problems and infections. The dandelion even has its own festival every Memorial Day weekend in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.
For gardeners, even though we hate to see them in our yards, their hardy taproots bring up soil nutrients for shallower plants and nitrogen for our grass.
In our lawns, the dandelion is just a nuisance. Their roots can grow up to 2 feet long and are brittle, so they easily break off if you try to pull them. If you don’t remove the whole root, they will grow up again. These roots are usually deep enough that even though the surface dandelions disappear in the fall, they will survive the winter and re-grow in the spring.
When the flower matures and turns into a puff ball, the wind can carry the thousands of seeds to germinate in any spot it can find. That’s why your yard could be weed free one year and a field of dandelions the next.
So, how do we get rid of dandelions?
a) Chemicals? – herbicides can kill everything, not just dandelions, so they’re good for the one-offs, but applying a weed & feed can kill weeds without damaging your grass. Not to mention, these products are no longer legal to use in Ontario.
b) Pulling? – wet the soil then get on your hands and knees with a weed removal hand tool and start digging, making sure you remove the whole root. Be gentle because they easily break off.
How do we keep dandelions from coming back? Keep your lawn really healthy and choke them out. Make sure your grass is well-irrigated, leave the grass blades high when you mow (no less than 3”), leaving the grass clippings to provide nutrients, fertilize if needed, and overseed any bare spots you may have.
Ultimately, you will probably have dandelions grow in your yard every year, but you can keep it to a minimum by ending the season with a healthy lawn. Having a lawn care professional maintain your yard is the best and least time consuming way to keep your lawn green and strong, minus the yellow dandelion polka dots.
If your interested in our Fiesta Weed Control services to kill your dandelions please click HERE or click on the link below to request a FREE quote.