Ron Wilson

Ron Wilson

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Plant of the Week - Dandelions

Dandelions – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Springtime can be very frustrating for many homeowners, when a crop of dandelions pop up all over the lawn.Especially when the neighbors are giving you that take care of your dandelions stare.  So first, let’s first try to understand this beautiful plant, and then let’s look at how to get rid of it (unless you want to keep it!). Believe it or not, at one time, there were no dandelions in the United States.They were brought here by the Europeans to serve many purposes. As a matter of fact, the dandelion was and still is one work horse of a plant! 

1.)   The dandelion roots, which can get an inch thick and grow deeper into the ground than many tree roots, were harvested, and boiled for making a tea used for medicinal purposes.

2.)   The foliage of the dandelion was grown for harvesting and eaten as you would any other type of greens. 

3.) The unopened flower buds were also eaten along with the foliage, and the opened yellow flowers were harvested and used for making dandelion wine, as well as battered and deep fried for a nice little snack.

But unfortunately, the dandelion escaped from the garden and has become a nuisance for many in the lawn. A nuisance if you don’t like flowering plants in the turf.So, what is the best way to get rid of dandelions in the lawn? It’s an easy answer. Keep the lawn good and thick. In most cases, where you see dandelions growing, the lawn has thinned. Along sidewalks and driveways, low compacted areas, and poorly maintained lawns are where they show up the worst. So, the key is simply keeping the lawn thicker.If you do have dandelions pop up in the lawn, feel free to dig them out, cutting off the root about 6-8 inches below ground level. If you use a weed killer, use a water-soluble killer and spot treat as needed. Best time to do this is when the flowers are in the puffball stage, or wait until the fall, which is the best time to spot treat for dandelions in the lawn.

By the way, dandelion flowers are an important early bloomer for honeybees. So, if you have a few dandelions, let them flower for the bees, then spot treat later.And if you still can’t get rid of those dandelions in your lawn, well, remember - if you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em.

Dandelion seeds flying away

Photo: Getty Images

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