Good HomeTips

Good Home Tips

Dandelions Dandelion flower

Dandelions can be maddening, they pop up overnight after a mowing like jack-in-the-boxes, as if you did not mow at all, laughing and daring you to do something.

Personally I like dandelions but most Americans, including my dad, hate them with a passion and will not think twice about casually using dangerous chemicals to kill them. One should think twice, after all it is just all about aesthetics.

For the lowdown on the dangers of common household pesticides and herbicides visit: Poison In the Grass: The hazards and consequences of lawn pesticides it will make your hair stand up.

"Homeowners apply up to 10 times more chemicals per acre than farmers do. Common lawn pesticides and fertilizers have been linked to various types of cancer, neurological damage, and Parkinson's disease. They're also the leading cause of accidental pet poisoning. Once the stuff is in your yard, your family will track it into the house on their shoes, where it settles into the carpets and cracks in the floor." Organic Gardening

Immature dandelion
Immature dandelion

A person should be able to control weeds and pests without taking crazy personal and environmental risks and there are available safe courses to take. They may not work as quickly or conveniently but it is better than suffering the consequences of bowing to the gods of expedience.

Straight distilled vinegar is an effective and economical solution to controlling dandelions, one gallon or 128 fl oz. cost about $3.99. I just put a few of drops on the center of the rosette using a turkey baster, the kitchen gizmo that looks like a giant eye dropper. Generalized spraying is not a good idea because the vinegar will also kill grass that it comes in contact with and also may turn the soil too acidic. A controlled localized spraying directly on the plant may work and acidic soil can be re balanced by adding alkaline soil components to balance the ph.


The vinegar will kill the dandelion leaves and flower but not the root and new growth should be expected. However repeated applications in conjunction with timely mowing should offer adequate control. Mowing height is important, doing so that grass is about 3" high is ideal. Less than 3" actually encourages dandelion re-growth.

Forms of corn meal gluten have been patented as a herbicide in preventing dandelion seed germination by inhibiting root development. Application 4-6 weeks before expected seed germination should reduce the number of new dandelions. The gluten contains nitrogen and will give competing grass a boost. The corn meal gluten has been called the truly natural weed and feed.

Dandelion patch

Using vinegar is cheaper and safer than herbicides. The savings of 3 cents per fluid oz for vinegar versus 20 cents per fluid oz for the least expensive chemical application, makes economic sense and that not having to take the risk of acquiring or spreading some horrible illness would be an added bonus and even bigger savings. As noted previously the danger with herbicide application on lawns is that it is easy to inadvertently track it into the house and into carpets, furniture etc. by pets, kids, toys and shoes.

My father used the tactic of not watering his lawn to kill the dandelion last summer. You have to understand that he's 91 years old with scrooge like tendencies. It was a bad idea. Not only was his front yard transformed from average looking to the worst for blocks around to the consternation of this neighbors, the tactic backfired completely. The grass died off and the dandelions simply went into a hibernated state.and this spring came back to life and flourished stronger than ever due to lack of competition. His yard now looks like a dandelion farm.

I'm trying to convince him now that reversing what he did would be the best plan. I've noticed that healthy lush lawns have few if any dandelions Sowing grass seed with fertilizer and promoting rich soil seem like the best and easiest solution. Strong competition from grass and timely watering and mowing should at least discourage dandelion spread and keep it controlled. Total eradication is simply not worth the effort and price.

Corn meal gluten as organic herbicide.
Vinegar as organic herbicide
Common weed killer (Roundup, Weed B Gone) and their active ingredient glyphosate.

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