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Dandelions as a Lawn Pest

By: Jack Claridge - Updated: 10 Oct 2015 | comments*Discuss
Lawn Experts Lawnexperts

Many people see the dandelion as a wild flower that can be seen growing in any meadow or any field on a walk during the summer months; whilst this is true and out in the wild they cause no real irritation they do cause a considerable irritation to gardeners trying to grow a perfect unblemished lawn.

What is a Dandelion?

Taraxacum Officinale is the correct name for the common dandelion with the word dandelion translating from the French for lion's tooth; this refers to the spiky green leaves that grow from the taproot.

As well as being a well known pest for any gardener these 'weeds' have been used for many thousands of years by the Chinese as a medicinal remedy for urinary infections - this gives rise to the old wives tale that if someone handles dandelions they may wet the bed.

How Do Dandelions Get into My Lawn?

Dandelions can send spores flying through the air on the wind and these spores can travel great distances and land in previously unblemished grass. This is often the case with newly laid lawns which, after they have been seeded, can begin to sprout the first stalks and flowers of dandelions.

This is often the case too with turf lawns where there are spores lying dormant in the layer just beneath the surface.

How Can I Get Rid of Dandelions from My Lawn?

The truth is you can try but you may not always be successful in removing all traces of these hard wearing weeds from your lawn. One tried and tested way in which to rid your lawn of them is to dig them out by the root. It is important to remove all of the root without it breaking otherwise the dandelion will still have a hold and will grow again.

A small handfork is the best tool to ensure that you get these weeds out by the root; gently dig down around them loosening the soil and then pull the weed up by the lowest visible part of the stalk; this should allow enough leverage to free the root in its entirety.

It is wise to remember that trying to pull the dandelion from the upper part of the stalk or indeed the flower will only seek to separate the weed above ground from the weed and may also send any loose spores on their journey to untouched lawn elsewhere in your garden.

When Should I Remove Dandelions and Other Weeds from My Lawn?

It is important where possible to try and remove weeds when you see them appear in your lawn. When the lawns growth has slowed down - which normally occurs during the autumn months (again depending on the Great British weather) - you should thoroughly go over your lawn with a handfork and dig up any weeds you come across.

This also applies to flower beds and borders as the spores can land in these too and cause the same problem. The roots from these weeds can spread, sucking valuable nutrients out of the earth and also starving other growing grasses and plants of oxygen.

In certain circumstances it may be necessary to use a weedkiller if there are particularly infested patches of lawn. You could also, if you feel so inclined, cut out the diseased patches of lawn and replace them with new or repositioned cuts but this should only be done if you are sure you are quelling the risk of spread rather than increasing it.

You local garden centre or nursery will be able to help you choose a weedkiller should you need one and you should try to pick one that will not cause any harm to other wildlife, children or pets using the lawn.

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In Australia, we have a garden tool called a weed wand. Its not one of those blowtorches you have in the UK, rather a long tube with a wick running down it, which turns back on itself after it exits the tube. On top is a threaded attachment and a small plastic bottle. The bottle is filled with a glyphosate solution. To use the wand, invert the wand, attach the filled bottle, then turn it right side up. You may need a couple of squeezes on the bottle to prime the wand.. You then simply wipe the end of the wick on the weeds you want to kill. Might need a couple of applications on tough weeds like dandelions, but eventually they die off. No overspray problems to kill off your lawn or other decorative plants. I know the wand can be bought from Australia, but it is my understanding that it is illegal to bring the bottle of glyphosate supplied with it, back to the UK. Further, I believe that glyphosate can be purchased here, and the bottle is a standard kind of thread, easily purchased separately. I think HILLS are the distributor in Australia.
steebs - 10-Oct-15 @ 8:27 AM
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