Skip to main content

How to kill dandelions and keep them out of your lawn for the entire season

Dandelions may look pretty when they first grow, and kids sure love them once they turn to fluffy balls of seeds, but ultimately, they are bad for your lawn. If you have a yard, you have undoubtedly encountered these pesky weeds. So, how do you kill them without killing your grass and keep them from coming back over and over? We’ve got some easy lawn care tips for you below so you can kill dandelions and have a weed-free plot that all of your neighbors will envy that lasts the entire season.

Close-up of dandelions.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Learn about the enemy

The first step to killing dandelions for good is to educate yourself. Dandelions are part of a subset of weeds called broadleaf perennials, and this variety of weeds is notoriously difficult to remove. The main problem is that once a dandelion plant fully establishes its 10-inch taproot, the weed will come back year after year, hence the name “perennial.” Not only does the pesky plant come back year after year, but it also spreads its seeds around your lawn continually, thus creating more and more weeds.

Person spraying a lawn with fertilizer.
Mabeline72 / Shutterstock

Consider herbicide

Now that we know that the root is the main problem with dandelions, the key is to kill or remove the entire taproot to rid yourself of the weed. The quickest way to kill dandelions is to spray them with a broadleaf herbicide that will kill the whole plant without damaging the surrounding grass. However, many people don’t want to spray chemicals all over their lawn for many reasons. The most obvious reason to avoid herbicides is that they aren’t great for the environment. Other reasons include pets and children. Many name-brand herbicides instruct you to keep children and pets off the treated area for at least 24 hours, which can be a task as difficult as getting rid of dandelions.

Recommended Videos

Person removing dandelions from lawn.

Remove the weed and root

If you don’t want to spray herbicides all over your lawn, your other options are a bit more labor-intensive but will definitely do the trick. The first method is to dig up the dandelion, and this exercise is best completed when the soil is wet. If you can’t dig up the plants right after it rained, use a watering can to moisten the soil around the dandelion and wait a few minutes for the water to soak in. The next step is to work a weeding knife down along the weed base in a few different places. Push the soil away from the plant by wiggling the knife. Once the plant is loose enough, use your hands to pull from the base of the plant gently. If the weed still feels stuck, use the weeding knife to loosen it further and try to pull again. The goal is to get the whole root out with the plant.

Person using tool to remove weeds.

Eliminate remaining root material

The next step is to target and kill the dandelion root with herbicide. Though the goal of the previous step is to remove all of the roots, the only way to ensure all of the roots are gone is to treat the hole that the weed came out of. Many natural herbicides will kill any plant life they come into contact with, so be careful during this step to only apply the herbicide to the hole the weed came out of. If you miss, you will kill your grass and any nearby vegetation.

Gardening tool in dirt.

Fill in holes

After the weed and its roots have been removed and treated, you want to fill in the hole, so you don’t have a lawn full of trip hazards. Be sure to fill the hole with a pre-emergent herbicide and soil mix to deter new weeds from taking root in the space. Most pre-emergent herbicides are nonselective, meaning they will kill anything that comes in contact with it, so don’t bother trying to grow grass there this year. Ideally, your existing grass will spread and fill in the holes eventually.

Close-up of yellow dandelions.
Jordan Clarke/Unsplash

Focus on strengthening your lawn

After you finish all of the steps above, your lawn should be dandelion-free. Now is the time to focus on strengthening your grass so it will be less susceptible to another weed invasion. Follow these tips to keep a healthy and weed-free lawn. 

  • Water deeply but less often than you feel you should to establish a deep root system.
  • Fertilize based on your grass type and follow a regular schedule.
  • Cut about one-third of the length of the grass blades at a time. If you cut the grass too short, it will dry out.

If you complete all of the steps above, you will have a dandelion-free lawn to enjoy for the entire season. But beware, those pesky weeds may try to come back next year, so be on the lookout and get to them before they try to settle in and start spreading their seeds.

Want more? Read on further for some more lawn management tips for busy people.

Kelly Kaliszewski
Kelly's work has appeared in blogs and on websites. When she's not writing, she is playing with her two dogs, cooking, or…
11 bad ideas for your front yard that will kill your curb appeal
Avoid these mistakes for your front yard
A front yard with xeriscape landscaping

You may be thinking about all the projects you want to tackle outdoors thanks to the warmer weather. While you may have grand plans to improve your curb appeal, taking the time and patience to properly land on a front yard design is important. If you want to ensure you're staying on trend and not dating your home, there are some common mistakes to avoid. These will help with the resale value of your home and leave you the envy of all your neighbors.
Landscaping mistakes
These are some common mistakes you'll want to avoid when thinking about landscaping your front yard.
Not having a game plan
One of the biggest mistakes is not having a plan when it comes to the design and layout of your landscaping. This can leave your yard feeling disjointed and your plants at risk of looking overgrown and out of place. Meet with a local garden expert or map out your front yard, including where all plants, trees, rocks, water features, and flowers will live. This will help ensure things don't look too busy or sparse, and it will make your yard feel well thought out.
Using the wrong plants
Understand which plants work for your exact yard. If they need full sun or partial shade, or require a lot of maintenance, it may be a disaster waiting to happen. Not only do you need to consider placement in terms of sunlight, but different flowers and plants have varying schedules of watering, so you want to know exactly what's expected before you plant them.
Too many decorations
Everyone loves a yard that changes with the season in terms of decor, but you can overdo it. You want to avoid garden decor that makes your front yard look tacky or cheap (we're talking to you, plastic deer), so keep decorations to a minimum.

Color pitfalls
We love color, but you need to be careful how and where you use it.
Choosing all one color
We love a monochromatic look as much as the next person, but your home should be welcoming and warm from the first glance. If you prefer having your house the same color as outdoor furniture and plants/flowers, use it as a backdrop. Add one or two pops of color with chair pillows or your front door to breathe a little life into your home.
Choosing too many colors
While it's good to have a little variety, you don't want to overwhelm the outside of your home. Bright colors may work in some parts of the country, but go easy on the rest of your choices. Picking one primary color and one contrasting color that complements it is the safest approach, especially if you're planning to sell your home.

Read more
11 helpful tips to keep bugs out of your apartment or condo
Keep bugs out of your home without calling the exterminator
Dead bug with pest control sign

Cleaning your apartment will keep your place looking nice, but it may not be enough to keep pesky bugs from making your home their home. Keeping bugs out of an apartment or condo is much different from keeping them out of a house. When you live in an apartment building or condo that's part of a larger unit, bugs can quickly enter your space from community spaces. So if your neighbors have habits that attract bugs, it doesn’t take much for those critters to come into your rooms, too.

Your apartment or condo location can also contribute to the number of bugs in your living area, such as if your apartment is near the woods or close to the outdoor dumpsters. Also, apartment complexes and condos often have several entrances, which increase the chances insects have to get into your home.

Read more
What products to use to keep your driveway and yard safe from ice and salt: A winter guide
Types of deicing products best for your landscaping this winter
Garage and driveway with man shoveling snow

Winter is here, and with it comes snow and ice that can prove a pain to remove from your driveway. It's important to remove it quickly; not only to keep everyone who walks into or out of your home safe, but also because ice can do damage to the driveway over time if it builds up throughout the winter.

Deicing products have been around for a long time, and they do work in varying temperatures to remove harmful ice, but they can wreak havoc on your landscaping. There are several ways to melt ice on driveways that do minimal damage to your yard and the plants surrounding it. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Read more