Image from http://blog.thomaslaupstad.com
I was asked by one of our readers to help them solve the problem of Dandelions in their yard without use of harmful chemicals. Part of the problem with Dandelions is the fact that each seed flower (you know those tall cottony looking things generally found near the dandelions that as a child you would close your eyes and make a wish and blow on. Well those are the Dandelion seeds and there can be as many as 2000 seed per stem. The wind blows these 2000 and they float away landing anywhere there is a little bit of space in the ground. So prevention and proper lawn maintenance are key to controlling the problem. The problem with trying to extract dandelions is that they have a very long taproot almost a foot long and if any of it is left in the ground it will grow new flowers.
Dandelions are edible and contain medicinal properties in all parts of the plant so you could always rid yourself of your weed problem by eating the problem. You can eat the flowers and leaves in a salad or stir fry them. The flower can also be made into a wine.
Image from Professorhouse.com
If you really don’t want them around or want to learn how to not have them around next year prevention is your best bet. The first thing you will need to do is test your soils pH levels weeds of all types in your lawn means that your soil isn’t properly balanced it means your lawn is too acidic. To counteract that you will want to mulch your lawn or use broken down compost. When you mow your lawn it is best to do so in a way that the clippings stay on your lawn to help fertilize.
Another preventative measure is to use Corn gluten meal. Corn gluten herbicides prevent dandelion roots from forming during seed germination. You need to apply this weed killer in the spring, about 4-6 weeks before the weeds germinate, and again in the fall. This is an non=specific herbicide so it will kill newly planted grass.
The most effective method which also has the least harmful effects to your lawn is to pull these weeds up by hand. There are tools to make the job slightly easier which can be found at a garden supply store or you can use a knife or screwdriver to dig next to the taproot and then wiggle the plant around in order to loosen it from the ground. Grab as many leaves as possible and pull.
For immediate results you can use a garden strength vinegar this is a much more concentrated version of regular household or culinary vinegar. Again this will kill anything it comes in contact with so you would want to make sure you use it directly on the leaves which is best done in the fall since the leaves are taking nutrients all the way down the root and will also carry the vinegar to the root which needs to be killed or your problem will sprout again in the Spring.
Hope this is helpful to all of you let us know if we can help answer any other questions you have.