Sowing the Seeds of Dandelions


I have been noticing the past couple of weeks that my lawn seems to have been attacked by dandelions. In fact, it looks like there are a lot more dandelions than blades of grass. I don’t remember a time when there have been so many of them, so I was curious to see if it was just my property. I started checking out my neighbors’ lawns, and those of just about every house nearby, and they all looked like they had been overtaken by the weed as well. Well, it turns out that I shouldn’t be so surprised.

There is a lot of discussion going on in the industry regarding the outbreak of dandelions this year, and there are many factors that have contributed to it. It’s been hard to determine whether we have more than usual, or if since they have emerged later in the season, there is just the impression that there are more.

First of all, we have to go back to the rampant rainfall and heat from last year. Those conditions made it difficult for companies to get out and mow their clients’ lawns, which made it easier for the weed to spread. Then we got hit with a lot of snow this year, leaving the ground covered later than usual. That in turn kept the soil temperature from warming up until later, providing the perfect conditions for the weed to germinate. And, the later spring also delayed chemical applications, meaning that most dandelions sprouted before they were sprayed.

Another factor? Foreclosed homes. Since most lawns at vacant homes are not being maintained, the dandelion seeds are able to blow around to nearby yards and spread like wildfire. Some cities and townships, like Penn Township in Pennsylvania, are cracking down on neglected lawn care at foreclosed and vacant properties, so that may be something to look into with your town or city government. It could be one way to keep dandelion infestations in check in the future. Reduced budgets could also be helping the weed spread. With more homeowners, towns, municipalities, etc., cutting back on expenses, they may be cutting services as well, such as weed control and other chemical applications. That is causing a ripple effect as the dandelion is then again able to move from property to property.

So, what can you do? There may not be much you can do this season. It is best to apply herbicides in spring or fall to control them, as long as the dandelion is actively growing, so that window of opportunity has passed. However, you may want to look into what you can do to proactively get a handle on it for next season. One can only wonder, with the wet weather we had again this spring, do we have the same fate for next year?

Amy K. Hill