How To Get Rid Of Dandelions In Your Yard

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Are you tired of dandelions ruining the look of your yard, and you want to get rid of them for good?

I understand the frustration of spending hours tending to your lawn only to have pesky dandelions spoil the look.

Luckily, you can clear your yard of dandelions by following the tips in this guide, where I talk about what kills dandelions and what products won’t harm your grass. 

I also detail the steps for the best way to get rid of dandelions and answer frequently asked questions, so your yard can remain wonderfully dandelion-free all year!

What Kills Dandelions?

The most common methods to kill dandelions are:

  • Applying a selective broadleaf herbicide
  • Applying a non-selective herbicide
  • Manually dig out the weed
  • Applying pre-emergent herbicides

Once dandelions take hold in your yard, getting rid of them will take some initial effort on your part. 

Fortunately, it’s not as daunting of a task as it seems, and once you clear them from your property, it’s not that difficult to keep them at bay.

Let’s look a bit deeper at what kills dandelions in yards.

Selective Herbicides

killing dandelions in lawn with herbicide

Selective herbicides are just that; they kill only the weed and not the surrounding plants or grass.

2,4-D stands for 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid, which is the main ingredient in selective herbicides. Many weed and feed products sold on the market utilize 2,4-D to control broadleaf weeds, like dandelions.

Non-selective Herbicides

A common non-selective herbicide choice is Glyphosate. The chemical does wonders killing dandelions, but it will also kill anything nearby, which is why you need to take great care when applying it to your yard.

Trying to pinpoint weeds with a non-selective herbicide in an expanse of turf will most likely lead to patches of dead grass across your lawn. The chemicals in non-selective herbicides are also linked to health issues, so use with caution. 

Pre-emergent Herbicides

Pre-emergent herbicides stop dandelion seeds from germinating and growing into mature plants.

While these chemicals do wonders to kill potential dandelions, they will do nothing to destroy actively-growing weeds.

Manual Weed Removal

how to remove dandelions

Don’t dismiss good old-fashioned weed pulling as an effective method of dandelion control.

You can use a garden knife, a weed-pulling hand tool, or a stand-up weed popping tool that saves stress on your back and knees.

The key to successful manual dandelion removal is to get the entire taproot from the ground. This task may be tricky since a dandelion taproot can be upwards of 16 inches or more in length. 

If nothing else, always remove the yellow flower from dandelions before they turn to seed and spread even more across your yard.

What Kills Dandelions But Not Grass?

Nobody wants to ruin the look of their otherwise healthy lawn by killing the grass growing near dandelion weeds.

To accomplish killing the dandelion without the grass, you can choose to use a selective herbicide product or pull weeds by hand.

You must take the time to directly pinpoint only the weed without spraying or digging into the surrounding grass for either choice. A direct attack will save you from wasting weed-killer from overspray or damaging grass roots near the weed-removal site.

What Kills Dandelions Naturally?

When you want to take a more natural approach to kill dandelions, you can use boiling water, homemade solutions, or go with an organic weed killer product.

Boiling Water

Carefully dumping boiling water on dandelion foliage will cook the plant and kill off the surface growth.

Unfortunately, the fix is temporary since, most of the time, the root is still viable and will eventually resprout.

On the other hand, boiling water is readily available, inexpensive if not free, and won’t cause any harm to the environment, so you can keep dousing recurring dandelions until they die off completely.

Homemade Natural Weed Killer

There are homemade natural weed killer recipes that commonly incorporate:

  • Citrus juice or oils
  • Vinegar
  • Borax
  • Salt
  • Dish soap

These ingredients work on drying up weed foliage, so the top of the dandelion dies off. Many times with natural solutions, the taproot lives on, which means you’ll see a new dandelion in its place soon.

Weed Pulling With A Backup

Manual weed pulling in combination with a vinegar solution is very effective against dandelions. Since many times a small portion of the taproot is left in the ground after using a weeding tool, pouring a dollop of vinegar down the hole will kill off any potential for the root to regenerate.

Corn Gluten Meal

Corn gluten meal is an effective pre-emergent natural herbicide that doubles as food for your lawn in general. You must spread the meal over your lawn every four to six weeks for best results.

Best Way To Get Rid Of Dandelions

Next, I lay out the steps for the best way to get rid of dandelions in your yard. 

Step 1 – Remove The Dandelions

Focusing on one section at a time, manually dig out all the dandelions in your lawn using the weed-removal tool of your preference. Take care to remove most, if not all, of the taproot. 

If the ground is dry, water your yard well and give it a chance to soak in. Moist soil will aid in pulling up the entire taproot with the dandelion foliage.

Step 2 – Immediately Treat The Removal Site With A Selective Herbicide 

Once you pull up a dandelion, pour a bit of selective herbicide into the hole to ensure you kill any bits of the taproot that may remain without killing off nearby grass.

Step 3 – Fill The Hole With A Mixture Of Pre-emergent Herbicide And Soil

You must fill the hole where you remove dandelions with soil and a pre-emergent herbicide. Doing so will stop new weeds from taking hold until the grass shoots can spread out to fill in the area.

Step 4 – Maintain General Lawn Health

The next step to prevent the return of dandelions is to maintain your lawn’s health by using a weed and feed product regularly. Dandelions, like most weeds, prefer to live in acidic soils. 

Using fertilizer and a selective herbicide will boost the nutrients and reduce the soil’s acidity to deter new weed growth.

Watering less frequently, but more deeply, is another way to encourage the root system of your grass to grow deep and dense, which will choke out weed seedlings.

Step 5 – Set Blades Higher When You Mow

To deter dandelions from returning to your lawn, you should mow the grass at a higher setting. 

Three-inch long or so grass blades cut off sunlight to the ground, which reduces the chance dandelion seeds can germinate or grow beyond the seedling stage.

Step 6 – Keep An Eye Out For Random Dandelions

Lastly, you need to scan your yard regularly for the wayward dandelion and remove it immediately. 

There is no way to completely control dandelions in your yard since Mother Nature always has other plans. The wind, wildlife, and heavy rains all can deposit dandelion seeds onto your lawn.

As soon as you spot even one new dandelion, repeat the first three steps to keep your yard clear.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is The Best Time To Spray Dandelions?

For yards with dandelion issues, spraying broadleaf weed killers in the fall is the best option. 

Why? In the fall, plants actively move starches and sugars from the leaves to store in the root to survive the winter. When you spray herbicide on the foliage at this time, more weed killer will reach the root system and destroy the plant.

Targeting the dandelions while they are small is another crucial time to apply herbicides, so early spring is the next best time to spray dandelions. 

Does Vinegar Kill Dandelions?

Yes, vinegar can kill dandelions if the product you use has a high acidity level. Vinegar will also kill your grass, so be aware that just because it’s a “natural” product doesn’t mean it won’t leave brown patches across your yard.

Most household bottles of vinegar are only five-percent acid and won’t be very effective against hardy dandelions.

Horticultural vinegar is what you need. This high-acid solution will quickly dry up dandelion foliage, but it may not destroy the taproot after one use. Using a vinegar solution will require diligent spraying of new growth until the root becomes so weak it eventually dies off.

Caution: Be aware that horticultural vinegar with a concentration of at least 20-percent acid is not weed-selective and will kill off any plant or grass it gets on. You should also protect your eyes and hands while using the product, as it could cause irritation.

How Do You Keep Dandelions From Coming Back?

There is no way to guarantee a yard free of dandelions since all it takes is one rogue seed to find its way onto your property and take root.

Using the initial steps above for dandelion removal and following it up with a vigilant application of pre-emergent herbicides and spot treatments is the only way to keep them from coming back.

A thick lawn with around three inches of growth will aid in deterring dandelions as well. 

The good news is that once you put in the time to clear your lawn of dandelions, it only a few minutes to deal with any random weeds that pop up.

In Summary

Once you gain control of the dandelion situation in your yard, it’s not difficult to keep them from coming back.

Using the information in this guide, you can fine-tune the best combination of how to get rid of dandelions in your yard.

Whether you opt to go for more natural solutions or use a highly-rated herbicide, you can win the war on dandelions!

About Justin Micheal

Justin has always loved gardening and caring for the outdoor spaces in his grandmother's backyard. He believes everyone can enjoy the space available to them, no matter how big or small. On Backyard Digs, he shares everything he's learned about growing a successful garden and maintaining and improving the landscape of a backyard.