Don't dig dandelions? Dig 'em out.
I don't need a calendar to know that spring's in full bloom here in northern New Jersey—the signs are everywhere. Tulips, hyacinth, forsythia, dogwoods, magnolias and countless other spring-flowering plants, bushes, and trees have been in full bloom. The birds and the bees are buzzing around, and the rabbits seem up to their usual procreative ways.
And of course, I've got plenty of springtime yard work to do, especially dealing with my nemesis—the ever-tenacious, fast-growing, seemingly boundless wisteria that's put down roots at the back of my lot.
For several of my neighbors, the biggest yard issue this year would seem to be dandelions. Their lawns are chockablock with these yellow-flowered broadleaf perennial weeds, some of which are nearing the puffy white stage and will soon release their seeds around the neighborhood.
To get rid of a dandelion, use a specialized, forklike tool to pull out the plant and taproot. You'll find these for $10 to $20 or so at home and garden centers and hardware stores. You'll also see pricier devices, but most work about the same way: You dig down around the base of the dandelion and use leverage to get out the plant and root. Check out the array of different tools on Amazon.com
Remember, removing only the flower isn't a sufficient eradication move. Otherwise the plant will resprout. So be sure to get the entire root. Try to do this before the flower matures and spreads its seeds.
Menards Premium Weed & Feed, Ortho Weed B Gon Lawn Weed Killer, Spectracide Weed Stop Weed Killer for Lawns, and other broadleaf herbicides with a combination of 2,4-D, MCPP, and dicamba are effective chemical alternatives. Keep in mind that World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer considers 2,4-D and MCPP possible human carcinogens.
If you still decide to use an herbicide, carefully follow all application instructions and precautions. And apply it in fall, not spring. Use a granular product on wet grass, a liquid on dry grass.
For more weed-whacking advice, read this report on dealing with weeds
and use our Guide to Common Lawn Problems interactive
The best way to keep dandelions out of your yard is to maintain a healthy lawn that's a less hospitable host to weeds as well as insects and diseases. Read "Essential Lawn-Care Tips" to help your yard look its best.
—Steven H. Saltzman Essential information:
Get more yard-care advice in our Lawn & Garden Guide
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