Killing dandelions naturally can be hard. A lot of people instead opt for powerful weed killers, destroying dandelions before they can seed. While this may seem like a good practice, it’s important to think about the bigger picture – preventing dandelions from invading your lawn in the first place. In order to get rid of dandelions naturally, you must start developing healthy lawn habits.
How to Prevent Dandelion Growth
The easiest way to manage dandelions is not with herbicides, or even natural or organic dandelion killers – it’s prevention.
To prevent the growth of dandelions, it’s important to have a thick, green lawn. Why does this matter? Because dandelions love neglected lawns, thriving on bare patches and hard-packed soil that’s difficult for grass to grow out of. Conversely, a lush, healthy lawn makes it difficult for dandelion seedlings to get the space, sunlight, and nutrients they need to grow.
Early Spring Dandelion Care
Your fight to prevent dandelions should begin in early spring. This is the time you can start fostering a healthy, full lawn by dethatching, aerating, and overseeding.
Once your grass starts to green up, it’s ready for dethatching. This is the process of removing dead grass and other debris that’s built up on your lawn over time. Dethatching helps air, water, and sunlight green the roots of your grass, promoting healthy growth.
Grass tends to require a better balance of oxygen and nutrients than dandelions, which are hardy enough to sprout in less-than-ideal conditions. Aerating your lawn will ensure that your soil is loose enough to carry oxygen and nutrients, which can get tramped out of compacted soil.
Once your lawn has been dethatched and aerated, you can begin overseeding. This is always a good idea – especially if you have bare patches, thin grass, or weren’t able to seed in the fall. Most experts recommend you wait to seed until the temperatures are consistently in the 50s before you begin. Which, for most of us, means early spring.
Overseeding, along with proper care, will make for a lush, full lawn – crowding out dandelion seedlings.
Late Spring Dandelion Care
Once your lawn has been given a chance to flourish, you can start to introduce fertilizers, weed killers, and other chemical treatments. Since new grass typically needs to be treated delicately, it’s best to wait until late spring – or whenever your lawn starts looking hardy – before you treat it.
Slow-release fertilizers tend to be more forgiving on new growth. This is also true with weed killers that can be applied directly to the weeds (as opposed to ones that are spread out over the entire lawn). For general sprays or applications, It’s best to wait until fall, when the grass can better tolerate it after months of healthy growth. You also have the option of manually removing dandelions as they appear. Do this by hand or with a weed digger.
You can also combat dandelion growth in late spring by adjusting the height of your mower blade. We recommend leaving the grass between two and three inches high. This will shade out dandelions and other weeds, and ensure that your grass has all the chlorophyll and moisture it needs to stay healthy.
Continued Upkeep and Maintenance
Unfortunately, nothing will help your lawn remain dandelion-free forever. There’s no magic bullet when it comes to dandelions. That’s why you’ll need to stay on top of your lawn care regimen. As soon as you spot dandelions cropping up for another year, it’s time to look at what you can do to improve your lawn’s condition.
While it’s a continuous battle to get rid of dandelions naturally, it can be done through early and late spring lawn care, making sure your grass is thick enough to squeeze out the majority of invasive weeds. Using herbicides or weed diggers on dandelions can also be effective, depending on the season, but nothing is more effective than prevention.