Kids love dandelions. They are the fun, fuzzy flowers they use to make wishes. For lawn enthusiasts, these bright yellow flowers are an unpleasant sight which cannot be wished away. In fact these weeds are exceptionally stubborn because of their far reaching seeds and deep tap roots.That is not say that it is impossible to get rid of them. You can eradicate them permanently, but the process requires patience and well-timed spraying. When is the best time to spray dandelions?
Spring and fall are the best times to spray herbicides on dandelions because these are the two times in the year when they bloom. Even then, fall spraying is most effective because this is when the plant is at its weakest and the herbicide can also find its way into the root to kill the entire plant.
Best Time to Spray Dandelions
The Dandelion Life Cycle
Dandelions bloom in spring and fall. Such times of blooming are considered the perfect time to kill the weed because it is at its weakest. That said, fall spraying is considered more effective than spring for several reasons.
To get every last plant
It is during spring and early summer that dandelion populations are building up. Previous populations have produced seed, they have been dispersed and have germinated. The plants have established themselves and are now strong young seedings which are actively growing. Plants at this stage of their life cycle are typically very strong and resistant to herbicides.
In the fall however, the plant is not actively growing. Sugars in the leaves are moving to the roots in preparation for winter so it is not as strong as it was in the spring.
Larger surface area
If you are trying to control dandelions using herbicide spray, you want to get as much of it on the plant as possible so as to eradicate it effectively. Being in full bloom at this time, a larger surface area is exposed compared to when it was younger and still growing.
Quick transfer of chemicals
Part of the reason dandelions are such stubborn weeds is because control measures fail to address the root. As long as the root is not destroyed, it is sure to spring again in a couple of months.
Another reason fall spraying is most effective is because it takes advantage of the nutrient transfer to the root mentioned earlier. As sugars are transported to the root for storage in preparation for winter, herbicides sprayed on the pant are also transferred and therefore help to deal with the root as well.
Reduced harm to other plants
There is always the worry that spraying herbicides to control weeds like dandelions will harm other nearby plants which you don’t want to kill.
Another reason fall spraying s better than spring sprays is because neighboring plants are more resistant at this time of the ear. They will therefore be more likely to survive a bit of herbicide which accidentally lands on it.
Why are other plants more resistant at this time? Well at this point they have been through the intense heat and harsh dry weather of the summer. They can take a bit of a beating from a little herbicide.
That is not to say that you can go ahead and recklessly spray the dandelions and wanted neighboring plants with herbicide. There is still need to be careful to direct spraying to the weeds only even though a bit of it will always end up on other wanted plants.
Check the weather forecast before spraying
Regardless of the time of year you choose to spray dandelions, try to do it on a dry day with minimal wind. Also check the weather forecast and choose a time when no rain is forecast for at least 2 days. This will help the prevent chemical being blown or washed off before it takes full effect.
Hand-pulling weeds is a viable option if you only have a few in your yard. It is also a path some home owners choose to take when they want to avoid introducing any amount of chemicals on to the lawn, no matter how small.
Whatever the reason you choose to hand pick dandelions as your control method, the important point to note is that they have a surprisingly strong root.
They are supported by a strong taproot which typically grows to a depth ranging between 6 and 18 inches. That is fairly deep for a plant this size.
Dig out the plant using a dandelion digger or weeding fork. It is also best to pull them out after rain or after watering the lawn because moisture helps to soften the soil. You need to remove at least 4 to 6 inches of the taproot to be sure it won’t grow again. With this amount of the root removed, the remaining portion doesn’t have enough energy reserves to sprout new leaves.
This method is not as effective as spraying so you may need to hand-pull dandelions a few times before they are completely eradicated.
Best Time to Spray Dandelions
Recommended time to spray dandelions
Spring and fall ( fall more effective)
– Gets to whole plant population
– Bloomed plant has larger surface area
– Chemical is transferred to the root
– Minimal harm to neighboring grass/plants
Best products for spraying
– Doctor Kirchner Natural Weed Killer
– Preen Garden Weed Preventer
– Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed 3
– Bayer Natria Grass & Weed Killer
Alternative methods of dandelion control
If you value a perfect-looking, healthy lawn grass, dandelions can be a perennial headache in the form of bright yellow flowers. It is possible to get rid of them by spraying a chemical herbicide but it must be done at the right time of the year for best results.
If you want to avoid chemicals on your lawn, you could pull them out by hand. This must be done carefully and using an appropriate tool in order to remove the entire plant or at least enough of it to make sure it doesn’t sprout again.
Are dandelions edible?
Yes. Dandelions are exceptionally nutritious. Like all other foods, don’t eat dandelions which have been sprayed with herbicides or other chemicals.
How long after spraying will dandelions die?
Weeds typically begin to die 5 to 7 days after spraying. All should be eliminated within 2 to 4 weeks of application.