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Dandy Lion-taming in Your Lawn

by Gabby Hyman, All About Lawns Columnist

"If dandelions were hard to grow," says physician Andrew V. Mason, "they would be most welcome on any lawn." Unfortunately for lawn enthusiasts, the dandelion (Taraxacum) is a hearty broadleaf weed that grows as easily as fuzz on a peach and, once started, it blows apart, sending fine filaments as far as several miles, starting new colonies. Waging combat against dandelions once they're settled into your lawn is an annual ritual.

The dandelion (named for their sharp, serrated leaves that resemble lion's teeth) was introduced to the United States from Europe for use as a medicinal plant. It works astonishingly well as a diuretic, is a good source of vitamins, and can be made into a delightful wine. On the other hand, your lawn is not a buffet.
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One of the best ways to deal with dandelions is to hand-pull them (or use a special dandelion weeding tool) from your lawn before they morph into seed umbrellas, grasping them at the base and making sure you yank out the taproots. If your dandelion crop seems to grow from the same root base every spring, you'll need to dig them out completely--tap roots can descend as deep as 15 feet depending on your soil.

Treat Dandelions below the Lawn

Once dandelions get a solid footing, they form dense matting, typically in a circular pattern. Once the roots are down deep, you may not get satisfactory results from pulling or digging.  

Spot spraying your lawn with glyphosate can kill off the weeds, but also can leave dead patches of grass.  A pre-emergent herbicide like isoxaben can be effective if you water it in your lawn before outdoor temperatures reach a constant 77 degrees and the seeds begin to germinate. Using herbicide too soon will burn off dandelion leaves, but the roots will send out fresh shoots come summertime.

About the Author
Gabby Hyman has created online strategies and written content for Fortune 500 companies including eToys, GoTo.com, Siebel Systems, Microsoft Encarta, Avaya, and Nissan UK.

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