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A Dandelion Is A Weed

by Alex Russel, All About Lawns Columnist

The dandelion is a strange plant. To some it is a powerful medicinal herb, or a delicious food, while to (most) others it's a mere lawn nuisance. Here is an introduction to a puzzling plant.

When autumn comes, to most lawn experts, it is time to break out the fertilizer and maintenance chemicals. Fall is the perfect time to improve a lawn, tired from the hot summer sun.
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  • Make it greener
  • Eliminate patches
  • Less weeds
  • Make it thicker
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Weed Plant Or Friend?

Dandelion is a good example of a Weed Plant that you can go after in the fall. It is much easier to attack the deep-rooted weed in a lawn made wet by the rain and overnight dew. If you wait until spring, it becomes much trickier to get to the weed without hurting your lawn, too.

Dandelions are especially infuriating to lawn care experts because the plant is usually the first to season in the Spring. Dandelions then quickly horde water and nutrients, while absorbing spring sunshine with broad, porous leaves. These may make nice lettuce like vegetables for some, but they steal nutrients from your lawn.

Dandelions Means Lawn Needs Attention

As with all weeds, a surfeit of dandelions simply means that the lawn itself needs attention. The big rooted plant makes its home on your lawn when grass roots are most likely skimpy and weak.

The solution is to not only attend to your grass, but to also focus on the soil. For healthy soil, spread an inch of mature compost evenly over the lawn and let the autumn rains wash it down to the roots over the winter. This is best achieved by dumping the compost out from a wheelbarrow into several piles and then raking it around evenly on the lawn (a job most children can do!).

Weed Known As Lion's Teeth

The word dandelion comes from a kind of linguistic accident. It's an Anglicization of the French "dent de lion," or "lion's tooth," perhaps inspired by the serrated leaf edge. The late weed historian Larry Mitich guessed that the word arrived in England in the 11th century, with the Normans.

Another French name for the weed plant, "pissenlit," occasionally is found on restaurant menus; it means "wet the bed" and refers, funnily enough, to mildly diuretic properties of the plant.


About the Author
Alex Russel is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY. Since graduating from Syracuse University he has worked at many different media companies in fields as diverse as film, TV, advertising, and journalism. He holds a dual bachelor's degree in English and History.

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