Friday, May 1, 2015

May is... Dandelion Takeover!

Spring can be unpredictable - weather conditions and temperatures seem to fluctuate daily! However, one thing is for sure: dandelions will be making a visit to a lawn near you.

Read more after the jump for answers to questions like:

Why do these pesky weeds continue to bother me every year?
What can I do to stop dandelions from taking over your lawn? 
When should a lawn care company treat for dandelions?

Taraxcum officinale, known as the common dandelion, is a herbaceous perennial broadleaf weed. In other words, dandelions can develop not only from seeds, but from roots, rhizomes, tubers, and many other plant tissues - though they appear to have disappeared above the surface at the end the season. There is no responsible herbicide that can effectively prevent these weeds from popping up every year, but there are effective weed control products available to treat them after they have emerged from the soil.

My colleague Dr. Brad DeBels' video regarding weed control is a great resource to learn how weed control works, and what to expect after a treatment has been made to any offending weeds.

However, there are a lot of things you can do, in addition to utilizing a lawn care service, to battle these all too friendly weeds:
  1. Raise your mowing height to 3 inches - this prevents heat and sunlight from reaching the soil as easily, discouraging weed seeds from germinating and further developing.
  2. Keep an eye on bare soil and thin turf - these areas are prime real-estate for weeds. If you do have a lawn service, ensure that your technician is aware of these areas.
  3. Consistently feed your lawn - this is so important! A well fed lawn (I recommend a slow releasing granular fertilizer) is like an immune system: when well nourished and maintained, it is less likely to be affected by unwanted ailments. 
You may be wondering, when should a lawn care company treat for dandelions? The answer may surprise you - when they have "popped" up. When dandelions are actively growing and developing, they are susceptible to weed control; spraying before dandelions have emerged, or when only a few have appeared, will not provide effective control over your entire lawn for the season.

Finally, it all comes down to products. Although there are many "weed killers" commercially available, consult with a lawn care professional before using these products on your lawn! Likely, you will find something like RoundUp, a non-selective herbicide (weed control). Non-selective herbicides will kill (almost) any weed, grass, etc. they come into contact with. Only selective herbicides will provide you with an effective way to treat dandelions without damaging your turf. Using non-selective herbicides will nearly guarantee bare spots and dead grass after weeds are treated.

I hope you all have a wonderful month of May, and enjoy our transition into warmer weather!

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