How to Kill Dandelions Without Chemicals
by Alec McClennan, on May 15, 2017
They pop up every year at this time and are a sure sign that Spring is here. With an all natural approach, like Good Natures, you can expect to have a few dandelions, but you should have far less than you would if you weren't treating the lawn at all. Read on for some tips to minimize dandelions without using traditional chemicals.
Tip 1: Use Corn Gluten Meal
Use an organic fertilizer that feeds the soil and may help minimize new weed germination, like Corn Gluten Meal. Corn Gluten Meal is an excellent slow-release natural fertilizer that contains about 9% Nitrogen as a protein. In addition, Corn Gluten Meal has been shown to suppress new seed germination to some degree. That means that it will help minimize new seeds from turning into plants. Your soil has thousands of weed seeds just waiting for an opportunity to sprout and Corn Gluten Meal can help reduce their chances of sprouting. Note: If you have a lot of dandelions one year, and then you apply Corn Gluten Meal the next Spring, it will NOT prevent dandelions from returning because for the most part dandelions are perennial plants and are regrowing from underground parts, not from seed. If you already have a lot of dandelions and are trying to reduce the number, you'll have to do more than just apply Corn Gluten Meal, but it's a good start. Good Nature's Earth Turf Organic Fertilizers contain Corn Gluten Meal.
Tip 2: Mow High
Mowing high can help crowd out existing weeds provided that you have grass types that will stand up and fight. If your grass lays over and won't stand up, mowing high won't help as much. You still don't want to scalp the lawn, but having the right grass types makes mowing high much easier. We recommend Turf Type Tall Fescue and Kentucky Bluegrass for the Midwest.
In addition, mowing high can keep your lawn greener. Check out the picture below of a lawn that was cut too short. They must have run out of gas before finishing and provided a good opportunity for a picture. Your lawn should never look worse after mowing than it did before. If it does, you're probably mowing too short. Check out this Lawn Mowing Video for more info about how to mow your lawn properly.
Tip 3: Mulch Your Leaves
You may have to wait a bit on this, but studies at Michigan State have shown a significant reduction in dandelions on grass that had leaves mulched into it during the Fall. So this year, instead of raking your leaves to the curb, run over them with your lawn mower until they're all chopped up and leave them on your lawn. Check out this Mulching Your Leaves Video for detailed instructions.
Tip 4: Use Weed Beater Fe
Weed Beater Fe is made from naturally occurring Iron (FeHEDTA) and is people and pet safe. It will weaken and kill many broadleaf weeds like dandelions, without killing the grass. Because it is naturally occurring it is ok to seed the same day you apply it. It's perfect for walking around and spot treating weeds as you notice them. I like to mix up a small batch every time I cut the grass and zap them as I see them. It's not great for spraying the entire lawn, but works well if you treat weeds individually. It works best in the Spring and Fall when the grass is not under stress. If the grass is under too much stress the Weed Beater Fe will brown the grass too. If that happens, just water the lawn and the grass will recover.
Tip 5: Try the Weed Out Lawn Tool
Weed Out makes pulling dandelions fun and easy. I promise! Have a dandelion plucking party -– pay the neighborhood kids a quarter a dandelion and let them earn a little money while aerating your lawn and removing the dandelions. Spring is the best time to pluck dandelions because they're pushing all their energy up into their leaves, leaving little energy in their roots. This way, any dandelion root you don't pull up, has less of a chance of regrowing. Watch our how-to-video on using Weed Out in your yard, formerly known as the Speedy Weedy.
Tip 6: Enjoy the Dandelions
America has waged a ware on dandelions for the past 50 years but are they really that bad? The yellow flowers can be beautiful in the Spring. The roots break up compacted soil. The leaves are very nutritious and are sold at the grocery store as an expensive addition to salads! You can even enjoy a Dandelion Tea that is an alternative to coffee. So, if fighting dandelions seems like too much work, just sit back and enjoy the flowers. But, if you don't like dandelions, it's important to know that you can minimize them without resorting to chemicals.
Check out our overview video on how to keep dandelions under control naturally.