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Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)

Lawn Weed Identification and Control

How to identify and manage dandelions, one of the most familiar and invasive lawn weeds. It's hard to miss the bright yellow flowers in the green, green grass. Photos are included to help with weed id.


They are simple perennials with a long taproot that allows them to survive the winter and regrow in the spring. A tiny piece of the taproot is capable of forming a new plant.

Every plant is able to produce hundreds of seeds - spreading them around your yard and carried on winds for miles. These seeds will spread and germinate throughout the growing season.

Characteristics:

  • Simple perennial
  • Reproduce by seed and vegetatively
  • Long, deep taproot
  • Bright yellow flowers
  • Fluffy white seed heads
  • Sharply lobed, lance-like leaves
  • Frequently occur in thin grass stands


Not All That Bad...

You can eat them - the whole plant is edible. The greens are used in salads and are high in vitamin A and C. The flowers are used to make wine and the roots ground and used as a coffee substitute - I'll stick to my regular brew :)

Little girls love picking the bright yellow flowers, presenting a bouquet of flowers to their mothers. Kids enjoy blowing the puff-balls, watching the seeds float away...into your neighbor's yard. 

Dandelion seeds being spread by wind

Dandelions in Lawns: Weed ID & Control

The best weed control is always a healthy, well-managed lawn that will not allow weed seeds to germinate. Weed seeds need contact with soil and sunlight to germinate and grow. A dense, vigorous lawn will choke out weed seedlings before they become established.

Weed Images

Dandelion lawn weed
Dandelion Flower
Dandelion seed head
Dandelion color illustration© Public Domain

Weed Control

Dandelions thrive in full sun and invade thin, stressed lawns - the best way to prevent an invasion is to keep your lawn healthy and dense. A healthy, thick lawn will out-compete most weeds.

The best time to attack them is right after they bloom in the spring this is when food stored in roots is low and its harder to re-sprout. Pull or spray them before they form seeds that spread around your yard.

Hand Weeding: Pull or dig after a rain or irrigation - when the soil is moist. Weeding tools help extract the long taproot.

Spot spray with a broadleaf herbicide in late spring or fall.

Click here for more information about how to kill them and keep they out of your yard.

Weed Identification

Simple perennial from a basal rosette. Ooze a milky sap (latex) when damaged or broken.

Bright yellow flowers that are approximately 1 1/4 to 2 inches in diameter. The flower stalks are hollow and two to six inches long.

The green leaves are oblong in outline with wavy margins, sometimes sparsely hairy, deeply indented with lobes pointing toward the center of the rosette. Usually two to eight inches long.

The seeds that form the 'puff-ball' are brown, 3-5 mm long with a feathery pappus attached that allows them to float in the wind for several miles.


Dandelions


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