The yellow patches of dandelion cropping up in green spaces across the city are a sign spring is here. Whether you love, hate or are impartial to them, dandelions are growing as far as the eye can see in yards, parks, industrial and public spaces across South Western Ontario.
With the ban of pesticide and herbicide products in Canada, which have traditionally been a dependable method of fighting the spread of dandelions this weed is making a comeback. And it’s everywhere. If you’re a property manager responsible for keeping green spaces green and not yellow, then dandelion control is probably on your priority list.
So, how can you safely and responsibly stop the spread of dandelions across your green spaces and is it a battle worth fighting? To answer these questions, you first need to know your enemy.
About the dandelion
(Taraxacum officinale) are easy to spot. This broadleaf weed has a yellow flower, white puffy seed head and jagged leaves. It pops up in the early spring and flowers continuously throughout the spring, summer and into fall.
One of the reasons dandelions spread so quickly throughout a lawn is that they have two methods of reproduction – from their taproot and also through seed germination. Since dandelions adapt well to the weather and can grow in most soil-types and conditions, they can be very persistent and competitive in any green space. Although dandelions can be a nightmare for property mangers, if you take advantage of their weaknesses, you’ll be better able to keep them under control.
Dandelions thrive in weak, thin turf
The best way to deal with dandelions is to prevent their growth in the first place. In order to do this, you need to focus on having a healthy, thick turf. Because dandelions do better on turf that is thin and weak, keeping your turf healthy is the best way to prevent an infestation.
To keep your turf healthy you should practice turf aeration, top dressing and over seeding on a regular basis. When you keep an eye on your soil levels, turf’s moisture and use the right grass species for your location you’ll find it easier to keep pests like dandelions and clovers at bay.
Dandelions don’t like high calcium levels in soil
Monitoring soil fertility and pH levels are an important factor when dealing with dandelions. Dandelions love soil with low calcium levels, low pH, and high potassium and nitrogen levels. Check your soil (you can have a landscaping company test it for you) to ensure that your soil levels aren’t ripe for dandelion growth. If you have the soil dandelions love, then you can add more calcium and lime as needed. You should be weary of the landscaper that wants to add too much nitrogen (fertilizer) to your turf area if you already have an existing problem with dandelions because they absorb the fertilizers better than grasses and it will only compound your problem.
Organic weed sprayers offer protection against Dandelions
For property managers dealing with existing Dandelion infestations an immediate solution is an organic weed spray like Fiesta® Lawn Weed Killer. Fiesta® is legal to use in Ontario, but you must find a company like Garden Grove Landscaping, licensed to spray it.
Although many older pesticides and herbicide products have been banned in Canada, Fiesta® is legal to use because it is a selective, broadleaf weed killer that targets problem weeds with minimal environmental impact. Fiesta® is a favourite amongst landscaping professionals because it works quickly and effectively, offering visible results the day you use it.
Fiesta®’s active ingredient is Iron (FeHDTA) and since it is rain fast in 3 hours it can even be used in cool weather. Once the area has dried people and pets can enter immediately, so there is little worry or inconvenience to the public.
If your turf already has a lot of dandelions and what’s worse, they have gone to seed then Fiesta® can help eliminate the problem, allowing you to work on improving soil and turf conditions as preventative measures moving forward.
Ultimately, the best solution against Dandelions is prevention. You need to have a strong turf and good quality soil, otherwise you’ll be giving the Dandelion exactly what it needs to thrive and spread throughout your green space.
Written by David Lammers
David Lammers is the president of Garden Grove Landscaping. Garden Grove provides Commercial Landscape Management Services across the Golden Horseshoe, GTA and Southwestern Ontario. David may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-866-996-1099.