Spring in Minnesota: Dealing with Dandelions
I took the first stab at mowing our lawn last week and was overwhelmed by the number of dandelions we seemed to acquire since last year. This is our first full spring in our home and I’ll be honest, last summer was a blur of settling in and taking care of major projects that we barely even had time to address the lawn.
All I know is, there is way more yellow popping out of grass right now.
Inexperienced in lawn care, I just assumed we did something wrong. And let me clarify that. We didn’t do anything at the end of the fall to get our yard ready for spring. So by doing nothing, we must have done something wrong.
So now that spring is here, what the heck should we be doing to combat the problem?
I reached out to Mary Hockenberry Meyer, a professor and extension horticulturist at the University of Minnesota -- in hopes of getting some advice that a novice could use.
“Dandelions are a fairly easy thing to control,” she told me.
Phew, that’s the good news.
The bad news? According to Meyer, they are also an incredibly important food source for pollinators -- especially this early in the spring when other flowers haven’t started to bloom yet.
If you want them gone right away, she says use iron chelate.If you are someone who cares about pollinators -- bees, butterflies, beetles -- Meyer recommends staying away from a traditional herbicide and instead letting the dandelions live out the spring season.
“The dandelions take up the iron, the iron burns them and they die quickly,” Meyer said.
And according to Meyer, iron chelate is easily found at most garden centers -- it gives the dandelions a toxic dose of iron without harming your grass. NOTE: Iron can be harmful to pets so treat the iron chelate the same way you would an herbicide when letting pets outdoors.
If you want to completely avoid adding anything to your yard, consider a stand-up weeder. It is more time consuming but man, the satisfaction that comes from ripping up the dandelion and its root is so dang good. I call it the Pimple Popper for our yard and as ridiculous as it sounds, I’ll set goals for myself -- 10, 20 a night -- until I start to see results.
Regardless of how you decide to get rid of the dandelions, Meyer says you’ll want to be careful with how you dispose of the dandelions.
“The wind takes them and they can adhere to things easily,” she warned. “They disperse well.”
Remember making a wish on a dandelion? That's the exact phase of growth you want to be careful about because the seeds are present. So if your weed pile is full of those white, puffy flowers, resist the urge to add them to your compost pile or you'll have another round of dandelions to deal with.
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