Q: My friend wants to get rid of the dandelions on her front lawn. I tried to get her to love the dandelions and make wine, but she is having nothing to do with that.

A: Good try on the wine idea!! Here's our method: We crowd the dandelions out with thicker turf.

  With a very thin topsoil layer (less than 2 inches in places...er..."5 centimeters" hehe), we couldn't sustain the grass-only turf without bi-weekly watering and twice-yearly fertilizer. Even at that, the grass was thin enough to allow weeds to reach the soil/thatch and germinate.

To launch our recovery plan, we topdressed with triple mix to a depth of 2" to give the topsoil layer a boost..then overseeded with standard grass and white clover (one clover seed every 10 cm or so). The clover dug into the clay subsoil and really thrived for the first year, then the grass came back strong once the clover started helping fix nitrogen in the soil.

Go to Calvin's blog to see a video on how to do this. Today, we still pull out the occasional dandelion (not because we hate them, but I respect that other people don't want them.

We are trying to be a showcase for zero emissions turf, so we currently go all out). I spend about 30 minutes a week pulling dandelions for 5000 square feet of lawn....most of that in areas where the clover is just getting established. Once the clover & grass are really thriving, it's hard to find the dandelions until the yellow flowers give away their position!

I'm looking forward to some environmentally-friendly suggestions to reduce the dandelions (so I hope some folks add their ideas here too!).

Devin (Calvin's Dad)

(Note from David Suzuki Foundation: notice that this is a method, not a product.  The key  learning: it's not what to kill, it's what to encourage! Great post Devin and Calvin....Take a look at Sherry and Terry's blog as well.)

Comments (7)

Dandelions from drug and chemical free lawns are good to eat and good for us although I usually compost the stems. Dandelion wine used the flowers but earlier in their growth dandelion leaves add greatly to salads, soups and stews and dandelion roots may be washed, chopped and dried for making "coffee" (especially good mixed with dried chopped burdock root and and chicory).

Allisa | August 26, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Make coffee! Last night we had a coffee substitute at a friend's house. She dug the roots of the dandelion, washed, chopped, the roasted till dark brown and dry. The roots were ground in a coffee grinder and made into a delicious hot drink. I would say it has a mocha taste.

Cherie | August 4, 2009 at 9:55 AM

We all have weeds in our yards, lawns, or gardens. Some quite useful...such as dandelions. I recently discovered a use for the common plantain leaf...known as a weed. The broad leaf plantain has many medicinal uses & much more. My tip is to take a motar & pestle... a handful of plantain leaves and mash into a paste. Make sure you identify the plant as the plantain weed. I then take this paste and place small amounts into an ice cube tray. Thaw as needed in the fridge...one cube at a time. I use the cool paste(not frozen) & apply to insect bites, such as blackflies, mosquitoes and slight sunburn. I found it to work amazing! My opinion, it stops the itch or burn and makes skin soft. Of course, I suggest you speak to your doctor if you have plant allergies & such. For myself & our family...we love this little weed. We have plenty of them on our property and will always harvest them for beneficial uses. These are just a few tips & uses of this helpful plant.

Marlene | July 23, 2009 at 11:37 AM

Especially in the spring time and if your lawn is organic...I still believe in pulling out the dandelions. Wash them thoroughly and make a salad out of them - very healthy for you.

Nick | July 21, 2009 at 11:53 AM

Our fair-sized garden was carpeted in dandelions when we bought our house 3 years ago. I became a bit of a neighbourhood joke for my dogged dandelion digging :>) using a 1950's "dig&pinch" tool to pull out as much of the root as possible (essential if you don't want the little blighters to re-emerge). The garden is virtually dandelion-free now. I broke the 1950's miracle tool and now have a modern 4-pronged incarnation. It does work but they leave a bigger hole, which needs to be plugged if you don't want to create a million weed-incubating niches. Good luck!

Charlotte | June 15, 2009 at 9:22 AM

Sprinkling a bit of salt in the middle of the plant kills it =)

Jay | June 4, 2009 at 12:48 PM

A great eco friendly idea that i use is vinegar and soap. Put straight vinegar into a pump sprayer and a bit of dish soap to make it a little bubbly. Spray directly on weeds...not the grass if you can.The vinegar kills the weeds and turns them brown very quickly...ready to pull or leave to die. The soap helps the solution stick to the plant so dont forget to add it. This also keeps the ants away! Good luck!

leslie | June 3, 2009 at 10:04 AM
Donate Now