I’ll preempt this statement by reiterating that there are good alternative methods to eliminating dandelions from your lawn, and a healthy lawn is a big start. Simply spot weeding, either with a herbicide or by mechanically removing the weed and root system with a specially designed tool, is a much better alternative to blanket spraying your entire lawn area.
However, there are times that spot weeding simply isn’t viable. Maybe you struggle with bending or being on your hands and knees, or perhaps your lawn area is simply too big for effective hand weeding. At times like these, a complete spraying with an herbicide may be required.
It’s all in the timing. Don’t spray in the spring! Though it’s tempting to spray when the weed is most visible, say on a bright sunny spring day, there’s a much better time to do it. And that time is fall, as late as possible before dormancy sets in, or in our case just before freeze up. And I mean really late — try and time your application to be just days before winter sets in.
Spray with the good stuff. Take the time to acquire a quality herbicide. Look for a “3-way” mix of components. These will be on the label as something like: 2,4-D (isomer specific) …..190 g/L Mecoprop (d-isomer) ………100 g/L Dicamba ………………….18 g/L These components complement each other and do a much more effective job of killing the weed than anyone would by itself.
Well, if you time it right, the dandelion plants will also be preparing for winter, and will be actively feeding their root systems with as much as they can to prepare themselves for winter’s dormancy. It’s kind of like a bear gorging on berries just before hibernation.
By applying a proven, high performing herbicide at that time, the plant will rapidly translocate the active ingredient deep into the root system where it’ll do it’s job of killing extremely effectively.
Compare this to spraying in spring or summer when the plant is actively producing as much top growth as possible, with little or no energy directed at its roots, and it makes sense that fall is the time to apply!
The ultimate aim is to get as much active ingredient as possible to where it can do the most good, that being the root system, while at the same time using the least amount of a herbicide as we can. Next spring you’ll be amazed at how dandelion free your lawn will be.
In fact, if you’re actively growing a healthy lawn with the best practices previously outlined, it’s highly likely that you’ll completely clean up your lawn with just this one application.
Though I applaud people’s efforts to be herbicide free, I do know there are times when they are a necessary evil. I believe that with the right understanding, the right safety procedures, the right motives, and the right herbicide and timing, there is a place for them. Used wisely, less can be more!