Dandelions are a perennial weed that are the bane of lawn service companies in the Mid-West. Their scientific name is Taraxacum officinale, and they are known for coming up in the mid to late Spring timeframe. Although they may have some useful purposes, such as a food and even a medicine, they are generally considered a noxious weed.
The problem in treating dandelions is there is no preventative measure that can be used, besides having a thick lawn, to keep them from germinating. Standard pre-emergents that are used for the prevention of weeds such as crabgrass and nutgrass, do not affect the seeds of the dandelion plant. This is a common misconception among homeowners when a pre-emergent has been applied to their lawn, that the dandelions should have been prevented also. There are some experimental pre-emergents that are being tested that will target the dandelion seed, they have not been released for residential use yet though.
If a dandelion does germinate in the yard, the first thought in many homeowners minds is to simply pull the plant from the soil, and this is a tempting reaction. There are a couple reasons why your lawn service company will ask you to not do this:
- Its nearly impossible to remove the entire plant from the soil by pulling it or even digging it out. The root is very brittle and any piece left behind in the soil, however small, can regenerate a completely new dandelion plant. These plants know how to survive!
- If the dandelion is pulled from the soil, your lawn service technician has no plant material with which to spray. This leaves us to simply wait for the plant to regenerate so that it can be sprayed with a weed control.
So if you begin to see the tell-tale signs of Dandelions coming up in the yard, call your lawn service company quickly, and resist the urge to pull them from the yard. They are actually one of the easier weeds to kill with herbicides, as they are supported by a comparitively large amount of green leaves which give them the energy to sprout so quickly.
If you feel something must be done today, mow the yard. You can also pull the heads off of the plant, this will keep them from sending out more seeds that would probably germinate next year. Beware though, the dandelion plant has a lot of energy stored and can usually send up another head even once its been mowed or plucked.