While the beloved robin used to represent the first sign of Spring, now, unfortunately, it is the pesky and prodigious dandelions that ushers in the season…

For those who love a well-manicured, lush, green lawn, there is nothing worse than seeing the towering, yellow weeds slowly (then rapidly) taking over every available green space and destroying the turf in the process. Producing copious amounts of seeds which blow around everywhere, the dandelions grow rapidly from a single, deep “tap root” and flower in the spring. With all of the cool, wet weather we have seen this year, dandelions have managed to have two cycles of abundant growth, and have become a real nuisance for landscapers. We have seen dandelions pop up and grow twice as high as the grass within just 1 or 2 days of mowing, producing an unfortunate and frustrating unkempt look.

Dandelions in turf

Dandelion growth only 2 days after cutting!

With the provincial pesticide ban in place, there is very little that can be done to effectively control dandelions and other weeds. So-called “green” or alternative products just don’t work, producing results that range from being totally ineffective to only slightly effective on dandelions. These products are also prohibitively expensive, and require multiple, repeat applications that actually lead to a deterioration of turf strength and quality. In other words, they can actually make the problem worse!

Digging out each & every dandelion by the root is great for a small section of turf, but would require a tremendous amount of labour (and cost) for a significant area. So, what can be done to manage the dandelion problem?

The simple answer is to keep your turf as healthy as possible and maintain it at that level as long as possible. The thicker & healthier your grass is, the more successfully it can withstand the inevitable dandelion invasion.

• During peak dandelion season, cutting the grass twice weekly will improve its appearance
• Don’t cut the grass too short – keep it at t least 2 ¾ – 3 inches long (7 – 7 ½ cm)
• Topdress & overseed your lawn annually to replenish the soil and encourage new turf growth
• Aerate at least once per year to improve nutrient/water flow, root growth and general health of the turf

Finally, please understand that without a change in provincial legislation, dandelions are here to stay. The battle now is to limit their population by doing everything possible to increase the health of your turf.

– Ken Jorgenson

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