Dandelions are often the first plant to start sprouting in the late spring and in early summer. If dandelions aren’t causing you trouble, keep in mind that they are often the first food source for pollinators, which are very beneficial. It is important to understand how dandelions grow in order to try and prevent them from taking over your lawn area. Dandelions are perennials meaning they continue to come back every year. Their roots can go down to over 10 inches which can make it difficult to fully remove. Dandelions easily take over because of the way they seed. When dandelions bloom, they are known for their bright yellow color. Once they are done flowering, dandelions go into a familiar stage with the fuzzy head that blows all over. This is a major reason they spread so easily. The seeds are designed to go with the wind and can end up anywhere. This is why you can get over ran by dandelions out of nowhere. It is important to remove dandelions before they go to seed in order to stop them from spreading.
If you plan to hand weed dandelions, be sure to pull the root out in it’s entirety. Just pulling the part that is above ground out will allow them to continue to grow. Older, established dandelions can have roots that grow up to 18 inches long which makes it very difficult to remove them completely. Try to use a weeding tool when digging up the root. The root goes down directly where the plant exists. It is easiest to remove the weeds when it has recently rained or the garden has been irrigated. Be sure to wiggle the plant as you pull it out to try and get as much of the root pulled as possible. Always pull from the base. Simply removing the head will not remove the dandelion.
As plants need a light source to grow, mulching your lawn or garden will help prevent dandelions from being able to thrive. Cut the stem off and layer at least 3 inches of mulch on top. This should help prevent the dandelions from being able to regrow. Another method of at least stopping new ones from growing is to keep the lawn height at 2-3 inches. This leaves the grass tall enough to hopefully block light to new dandelion seeds. Apply new grass seed as needed to help prevent weeds from taking over in any bare or sparse areas. Try to use a dense grass such as Bermudagrass, tall fescue or perennial ryegrass. As a last resort, use a broadleaf herbicide to help manage dandelions in your yard or garden.
Dandelions that have been pulled can be eaten in a few different ways. It is important to be aware of any herbicides or other chemicals that may be present on the dandelions before consumption. If your dandelions are chemical free, it is possible to eat the flowers, leaves, roots, and stems. The root is commonly turned into a tea or coffee. The flowers and leaves are eaten fresh or baked into goods. They can also make nice garnishes. Dandelion jelly is a popular product for those who forage dandelions.