Dandelions can be one of the biggest offenders in the struggle for the perfect lawn. It is enough to give you a headache, and even put a dent in your wallet.
It should be noted, many people do not consider dandelions weeds. They can be used as food, herbal medicines, wine, and can even be good for your lawn by bringing up nutrients from deep within the soil.
But, if dandelions and other plants are growing in places you don't want, you have probably had enough.
In an effort to make life easier and save money, I wanted to try and get rid of dandelions using some home remedies.
After talking with Facebook viewers and looking online, I decided to test vinegar, rubbing alcohol, soapy water, and boiling water. Altogether it cost about $5.
I will warn you up front, some of these methods did work, but probably not quite how you want them too.
I also wanted to try some handheld tools to dig out the dandelions, just in case the sprays above did not work. I purchased a small weeding tool and a much larger, easier to use tool, however the price tag this time was about $30.
Boiling Water: This remedy actually worked surprisingly well, maybe too well. Within an hour it was clear that the water did some damage to the plant. Almost immediately it smelled like cooking spinach in the area. The next day all of the grass and the weeds themselves in the area had turned brown, that's where the problem with this method lies.
Everything that the boiling water touched died, not to mention any sort of helpful microorganisms in the soil died as well. On top of that, it was a lot of work. The water is still supposed to be boiling when it hits the plant, which makes the process difficult.
I can't recommend this for spot treating your lawn, however if you have some pesky weeds that pop up in between your sidewalk or driveway this method would most likely take care of them.
Vinegar: This is a popular remedy that does damage the plant. The leaves of the dandelions looked like they were burned back and turned brown. However even with the leaves gone, the white seed heads still came up about 10 days after I sprayed the plant with vinegar.
The vinegar also turned a lot of the grass brown as well.
Lori Jones, a horticulturist with Viette Nurseries explained that this method will work at first, but the plants will come back. She says that dandelions are perennials and the vinegar won't actually kill the root, just the foliage on top.
Jones also reminds that while this method is organic, it is still essentially a poison to many things in your lawn. She says, just because it's not a chemical you buy from the store, doesn't mean it's a healthier option.
Rubbing Alcohol: I really saturated a couple plants around my yard to give it a fair test. But to my shock, it really did not do much the first couple of days. It wasn't until day 4 or 5, that the weeds started to die, but towards the end, they were very crunchy and brown.
Soapy Water: This method had very little impact, if any, on the weeds or grass. After a week, you couldn't tell we had done anything.
If you have more time, or just like getting dirty, there is the tried a true method: digging out the dandelions
But, because they have tap roots, you've got to work hard. The roots can be up to ten inches long!
Using a handheld weed digging tool that looked like a screw driver was a lot of work, and I still was not able to get out the entire root system from the dandelion. A couple inches came out of the ground, but still may not have been enough to eradicate the weed forever.
Lastly, I used a larger tool that claims to be better because you don't have to bend over to pull the weeds.
I'll admit, it was! It is made by Fiskars and is called the Uproot Weed and Root Remover and I found it at Lowe's. The downside, the price was much higher, around $30.
The tool was very simple to use, (check it out in the video above) but still, did not usually get the entire root system.
Jones says the best way to keep weeds out of your lawn is through prevention.
The fuller and more healthy your lawn is, the less likely weeds are to sprout up; the grass will crowd out the weeds.
She explains that using fertilizer as directed, is not bad for the environment, as some people might suggest.
Fertilizer works to keep your lawn fuller, creating more extensive root system covering more of your lawn. Better roots lead to less runoff, says Jones.
She also explains that cutting your grass too short can make it easier for weeds to to germinate in your lawn.
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