Some historians believe the pilgrims were the ones who first brought dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) to North America. Today, you can find this plant growing in lawns and garden beds throughout U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 5 through 9. Instead of resorting to toxic pesticides to control dandelion problems, eradicate this weed with organic, natural alternatives.
Physical removal is one of the fastest organic ways to eliminate a dandelion. Use a handheld dandelion weeder or dandelion knife, which uproots the entire plant and without disturbing the surrounding soil in the lawn or garden bed too much. If manually pulling this weed is difficult, water the area first. Moist soil makes it easier to uproot a plant.
More Mowing, Fewer Problems
Mow or hack off the top of the plant, then repeat every time the dandelion grows back. Repeated mowing weakens the dandelion and depletes it of its stored nutrients, eventually killing it. As an added bonus, repeating mowing also prevents the weed from producing flowers and seeds, keeping the dandelions from spreading to other parts of your yard.
Handheld flaming devices, available for rent or purchase at many hardware stores and nurseries, use a small flame to naturally eradicate weeds. This weed control option works best for young, isolated dandelions, such as those growing in cracks in paving. Avoid using flaming devices near flammable surfaces, such as wood decks or on dandelions growing in wood mulch. Check local laws before using a flaming device, especially if you live in an area prone to wildfires.
Mix a homemade weed-killing spray that harnesses the power of acid to weaken and kill dandelions. Combine 1 quart of white vinegar with 4 ounces of lemon juice concentrate. Mix the solution thoroughly in a spray bottle and spritz it onto all exposed surfaces of the dandelion. For best results, repeat once a day during the hottest, sunniest part of the day. The acidity of the solution will eventually kill this weed. The spray will also effectively kill any plant it touches. Keep the spray away from flowers and vegetables. To shield nearby plants from the spray, cover them with plastic sheeting or a piece of cardboard.
Corn gluten meal, a natural byproduct from milling corn to make animal feed, functions like a pre-emergent herbicide. While it won't kill existing dandelions, it does kill dandelion seeds and keep them from sprouting. When combined with organic weed control for existing plants, this essentially stops the dandelion life cycle. Spread approximately 5 pounds of corn gluten meal over every 500 square feet of lawn, and repeat once in spring and again in fall.