17 May 2015

Dandelion Experiment

This is my lawn. As you can see it has a carpet of dandelions. In previous years I would treat my lawn with Weed & Feed to get rid of them but it's now illegal to sell the stuff. I tried vinegar one year - it stank but killed the weeds...sort of. They came back with a vengeance. I've tried various sprays to kill them but none have been very effective. Obviously.

One large problem I'm having is that the city has stopped treating the dandelions on city property which means there will be seeds everywhere. Another large problem is that J is allergic to them and it makes his grass cutting experience a nightmare. I very much want to get rid of them but lack the patience to pluck out each plant individually. In my laziness I started to really look at my lawn.

I noticed the dandelions were much more sparse in the shade. The grass is also much thicker in the shade. Are the dandelions choked out because the grass is thick, or do they just do better in the sun? Probably a combination of both. I checked online and discovered that grass likes sweet soil and dandelions like acidic soil. This is where I got the idea for my experiment.

We have lots of ash left over from the fire pit and spreading it in the ground sweetens the soil. I bought some grass seed and a seed spreader, mixed the ash with the seed, and spread it all over my back lawn. I'm hoping that by over seeding the grass it will choke out the dandelions while the sweeter soil will create a hostile environment. Of course I now have to water my lawn at least once a day to get the seed to take, but hopefully it will be worth it. 

1 comment:

Chantelle said...

Dandelions are one of the scourges of my lawn, too, and they're everywhere here (along with veronica speedwell and hoary bittercress).

Sweetening the soil and adding seed is probably the best approach: if there's no space for them to germinate and they don't like the environment, they won't stick around. Another method that's supposed to help is putting corn gluten on the soil which prevents weeds from emerging. If you wanted to start over from scratch, you could cover your entire lawn with cardboard (or something else that blocks light) and that will kill off...everything. Then you could reseed.

I've also found that if the flowers can be picked or mown down before they become puffballs, they won't go to seed. However, they seem to not need nutrients from the plant to go to puffball stage so if you do pick them, put them in a closed container or bag so the seeds don't get loose.

Good luck!

Love you,
Chantelle

ps - they're quite pretty flowers up close. If only they weren't everywhere!