Single Yellow Dandelion In Green Grass
(Image credit: Stacey Newman)

While children may make wishes on the fuzzy heads of dandelions, gardeners and lawn enthusiasts tend to curse the cheery yellow flowers of dandelions when they appear. And for good reason. Dandelions will push out grass and other plants, as well as sapping water and nutrients away from surrounding plants. Dandelion control also tends to be difficult due to their fluffy and far floating seeds. But the answer to the question of how to get rid of dandelions is simply a matter of thoroughness and patience.

How to Get Rid of Dandelions

There are several methods for dandelion control. All methods for dandelion removal must be performed every year. Due to the fact that dandelion seeds can travel several miles on the wind, it is difficult, if not impossible, to have permanent removal of this weed from a garden or lawn.

How to Kill Dandelions with Herbicide

There are two basic types of herbicide that can be used on dandelions. The first is a selective broadleaf herbicide. A broadleaf herbicide will only kill broadleaf weeds, such as dandelions. A broadleaf herbicide is good for killing dandelions in lawns, as the herbicide will kill the dandelions and not the grass. The other kind of effective dandelion herbicide is a non-selective herbicide. Non-selective means that the herbicide will kill any plant that it comes in contact with. Non-selective herbicide is effective for spot dandelion removal, such as killing dandelions in flower beds and in walkways. When using any herbicide for dandelion control, it will work best to apply the herbicide before the dandelion has developed flowers. Once dandelion flowers have emerged, the dandelion is far more resistant to herbicides and the herbicide, broadleaf or non-selective, will not be as effective.

Hand Digging for Dandelion Removal

The most effective, but also the most time consuming, method for dandelion control is hand digging them. Hand digging should be done in the spring, right when the first dandelion seedlings appear. Special “dandelion pullers” or similar tools can be bought to help with hand digging. When hand digging as a way of how to kill dandelions, it is important to remember that you must remove the entire taproot of the dandelion. Dandelion taproots can run deep. Because dandelion taproots grow deep, it is unlikely that you will kill every dandelion in your yard during the first round of hand digging. Every few weeks, hand dig any dandelions that re-emerge from their taproots.

Using a Pre-Emergent for Dandelion Control

A pre-emergent is a chemical that can be applied your lawn or flower bed to prevent seeds from germinating. When using a pre-emergent for dandelion control, it must be applied in late winter in order to be effective. The pre-emergent will prevent the dandelion seeds from germinating and is only effective if used before the dandelion seeds have had a chance to germinate. With all of the types of ways for controlling dandelions, the most important thing to keep in mind is that you need to prevent the dandelions from going to seed. Once the fluffy seed heads appear, the number of dandelions in your yard (and your neighbor's) will multiply. But now that you know how to get rid of dandelions, you can be confident that with some time and effort, you can have a dandelion free yard. Note: Chemical control should only be used as a last resort, as organic approaches are more environmentally friendly.

Heather Rhoades
Founder of Gardening Know How

Heather Rhoades founded Gardening Know How in 2007. She holds degrees from Cleveland State University and Northern Kentucky University. She is an avid gardener with a passion for community, and is a recipient of the Master Gardeners of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award.