Dandelions are beautiful and deceptive flowers. While some love wishing on these feathery florets, others might use them for a textural surprise in meals and salads.
Gardeners and farmers alike can agree: there’s nothing more menacing than a dandelion invasion.
One single dandelion can wreak havoc on your turf if left unchecked. An individual flowerhead can colonize an entire lawn within the span of a year.
Not only this, but dandelion flowers are competitive, more so when it comes to nutrients.
The dandelion could leave the soil underneath barren and useless. Before it does so, you need to use the best dandelion killer to promote your lawn’s health.
Related post: Seasonal Lawn Care Guide and Tips
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Weed?
- 2 The Life Cycle of a Dandelion Weed
- 3 How to Get Rid of Dandelions Using Weed and Dandelion Killer for Lawns
- 4 Top 5 Best Dandelion Killers
- 4.1 Best Value: Scotts Turf Builder Weed And Feed
- 4.2 Best Organic: Espoma Organic Traditions Weed Preventer
- 4.3 Best Broad Spectrum: Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer
- 4.4 Selective Broadleaf Pick: Gordon’s Amine 400 2,4-D Weed Killer
- 4.5 Premium Pick: Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer Concentrate
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 References
What is a Weed?
Weed, in botanical terms, is an umbrella term for a plant that is undesirable, unwanted, and invasive. But keep in mind that what might be an unwanted plant for you could be a wanted plant for someone else.
The context matters. Wild poison ivy in a garden might be a weed. The same plants in unowned land, moreover, are not technically weeds.
A consensus exists, one stating that certain plants could be generalized as weeds. Such as amaranths, bermudagrass, creeping Charlies, and, of course, dandelions.
Dandelions fall under the ‘broadleaf weeds’ category of common invasive weeds.
Broadleaf weeds are distinguishable because most share one thing in common: wide leaves with a center vein running the length of the leaf.
Weed control is crucial in agriculture. Without effective methods to eliminate these unwanted plants, the weeds will compete and win against endemic plants.
Weeds compete with cultivated and endemic plants in the following manner:
- Hogging up soil nutrients, water, and other resources
- Drying and eroding the soil
- Hosting and spreading plant pathogens
- Fostering pests that damage endemic plants
- Harming the skin of or poisoning humans and animals.
Related post: 5 Best Grub and Pest Killers For Your Lawn
The Life Cycle of a Dandelion Weed
The reason it’s so difficult to get rid of dandelion flowers is that these flowers come with quick life cycles. In fact, a dandelion seedling can bloom and mature in as little as eight weeks 
The worst part? These perennial flowers bloom all year round.
A single flowerhead can also produce as many as 400 dandelion seeds— 90% of which successfully germinate.
If you don’t act soon, you’ll be looking at a dandelion invasion in your beloved garden. It won’t be cute. For this reason, it’s more efficient to deal with invasive flowers before the flowers begin to seed.
Preparation doesn’t require much effort. All you need to do is be able to identify which stage of its life cycle the dandelion flower is.
Stage One: Seedling
The seedling stage is the longest stage of a dandelion’s life cycle. Once in the soil, a dandelion seed will start sprouting in about 10 days.
The seedling surfaces and the young leaves will become a yellowish-green color. These young leaves will contain smooth edges, unlike mature counterparts.
The dandelion roots will grow deeper into the soil. The roots don’t run deeper than 16 inches but could penetrate to a depth of 10 feet or more when mature.
The possible large growth makes it useless to cut the mature flower at or below the soil surface, being since it won’t be enough.
A lot more leaves will grow as time goes on. It will soon form a rosette.
Stage Two: Mature Plant
You will notice buds growing at the base of the rosette when Spring rolls around. The bud sits close to the root and you won’t see stems until the end of the season.
Meanwhile, the leaves start growing more rugged around the edges.
The leaves are enthusiastic growers; they can reach up to 10 inches in length, and those farther away from the base will boast a bright green hue.
Dandelion plants, mature ones, make great delicacies. Both the buds and leaves will be an excellent addition to a salad.
Towards the end of the growing season, you will be able to see fully developed stems shooting towards the sky.
Stage Three: Flower
Summer is the most prosperous season for dandelions. This is the time (around May and June) when the buds bloom into bright golden flowers.
If you weren’t keeping count, that’s anywhere between 8-15 weeks after the seedling stage.
Buds won’t be able to blossom. Buds need to be a bit closer to the sun. Natural light will help it to sprout up quicker.
The stem emerges from the center of the leaves. It is hollow with no leaves or thorns and can grow up to 12 inches long.
If you were to cut this stalk, a white secretion would ooze out of it.
A yellow dandelion flower blooms from the stalk. Each plant can foster up to 12 different flowers within a single growing season.
However, dandelion flowers can bloom throughout early and mid Fall.
The petals of the flower span 1-2 inches in diameter on average.
The flowers might also enter a nocturnal state and close up depending on weather conditions.
Stage Four: Seed
It takes 8-15 weeks for a dandelion seedling to mature into a glorious golden flower. It only takes a week for the flowers to transform into fruit.
The dandelion fruit, if you didn’t know, is the white feathery “flower” that we are most familiar with.
You can tell when this is about to happen because the petals close for 7-10 days while the fruit develops inside.
A fruit from a dandelion is oval, brown, and not up to an inch long. Each fruit is attached to white, feathery fibers known as a pappus.
The pappus allows the weed seeds to parachute through the wind and travel long distances.
How to Get Rid of Dandelions Using Weed and Dandelion Killer for Lawns
Dandelions have been around for a long time, which has given us ample time to figure out how to get rid of them.
Chemical herbicides, also known as a weed killer, offer the most effective methods of eliminating weeds. It’s important to note that more than one type of chemical herbicide exists.
So, how can you choose between the best dandelion killer? The answer is a little tricky.
Things like environmental conditions, lawn health, the type of lawn grass, the time of the year, and a lot of other factors determine the type of weed and grass killer you need to use.
Selective Herbicides Chemicals
Selective herbicides are killing agents but do not harm wanted plants. The only feasible target is unwanted weeds.
Most broadleaf weed killers are selective herbicides. Dandelions are a broadleaf species, and so, you can easily find a selective herbicide for dandelions.
How do these weed-killing agents eliminate the toughest weeds when sparing other plants? Well, different types of chemical herbicides result in different mechanisms for killing dandelions.
This type of weed killer, in layman’s terms, intervenes with the natural biochemical processes integral to broadleaf weed plants.
However, these biochemical processes do not occur in plants, and also, selective weed killers leave no effect.
Selective herbicides are perfect to eliminate weeds in lawns and gardens where you don’t want to kill all plants.
Non Selective Herbicides
In contrast, non-selective herbicides are broad-spectrum. These herbicides don’t differentiate between weeds and plants. Instead, most of them end up killing everything in sight.
On a biochemical level, non-selective herbicides interfere with the integral life processes of plants. For this reason, non-selective herbicides are an aggressive weed killer compared to selective herbicides.
Non-selective herbicides are perfect when weeds line a fence or a sidewalk. However, you can’t use non-selective herbicides inside your lawn. It could damage other plants as well.
Pre-emergent herbicides are known as root inhibitors. True to the name, these weed-killing agents target the seedling and prevent them from developing into mature plants.
Pre-emergent herbicides inhibit proper root development. Since the root can’t grow properly, the rest of the plant also stops growing.
In other words, pre-emergent herbicides address the root of the problem.
You might’ve already known but I’ll tell you regardless. Pre-emergent herbicides are effective before the seedling matures.
Otherwise, it will not affect established plants.
Dandelion seedlings start germinating in Spring. If you procrastinate until late Summer, your window of opportunity will be gone.
A premature application could also end up wasting the herbicide. Hence, it is a time-sensitive method.
Pre-emergent herbicides are effective when it comes to addressing weed overgrowths. It’s like some people state: prevention is better than cure.
Post-emergent herbicides are a category of weed killer that fight mature weeds. The wide-action broadleaf weed and grass killer work great on large areas.
Hence, these types of herbicides are great for areas with a profusion of weeds.
Neglected gardens, abandoned lawns, and unkempt land benefits the most from post-emergent herbicides.
Apart from being selective or non-selective, post-emergent herbicides can also be categorized as either systemic or contact herbicides.
In the interest of dandelions, systemic herbicides are the best option.
Since dandelions are perennial, systemic herbicides are able to penetrate the entire plant system through the roots, therefore killing it from the inside out.
Contact herbicides, in contrast, affect the exposed part of the plant, leaving the root intact to sprout more leaves, flowers, fruits, and seeds.
Different kinds of herbicides, each with a specific mode of action, exist in the world. Deciding the best dandelion killers, therefore, is crucial for your needs. It’s also crucial for the world.
Top 5 Best Dandelion Killers
Best Value: Scotts Turf Builder Weed And Feed
Editor’s #1 Choice
- Up to 2X more powerful dandelion and clover control (vs. previous formula)
- Clears out dandelions and clover—satisfaction guaranteed
- Weedgrip Technology grips the weeds you see—and the ones you don't
The Scotts Turf Builder Weed and Feed cut down on lawn care time. Since it works as a double-duty dandelion killer and soil fertilizer, you will only have to make half the effort to make your lawn look twice as good.
The proper use of the Weed and Feed requires a lawn spreader. You can use the lawn spreader to make sure the product distributes evenly throughout your lawn.
But wait, is it safe for your grass?
The Scotts Turf Weed and Feed is safe to use on most grass types. Honestly, it would be easier to list the grass types that aren’t compatible with the herbicide: St Augustine, Dichondra, Lippia, Carpet Grass, and Bentgrass lawns.
Not only is the Weed and Feed safe for your grass, but it’s healthier for it, too. The nutrient-rich weed killer nourishes your plants and nurtures a thicker, healthier lawn.
You can end up damaging your lawn pretty easily if the grass isn’t damp. Instructions say that you can water your lawn hours before application, however, freshly-watered lawns produce the best results.
Best Organic: Espoma Organic Traditions Weed Preventer
- Espoma Weed Preventer is an all natural weed preventer and lawn food made...
- Weed Preventer prevents dandelions, crabgrass, and other common weeds, and...
- Children and pets can play on lawn immediately after application!
Synthetic herbicides are aggressive, but organic dandelion killers are still safe for your lawn, pets, and family. Espoma comes in strong with an organic weed preventer and addresses the problem before it even surfaces.
That’s right. The Espoma Organic Weed preventer is a pre-emergent herbicide. This means it will prevent dandelions from growing in your lawn at all. Hence, the Espoma Weed Preventer is the perfect addition to your Spring lawn care toolkit and is good to kill weeds.
But more awaits…
Nutrient-packed granules mixed with the herbicide will fertilize the soil. Since the herbicide is derived from a corn gluten meal, slow-releasing nitrogen from the meal trickles down the soil and is absorbed.
So, not only are you preventing weed growth, but you’re also enhancing the health of your grass, flowers, and other plants.
The downside to weed killers is that they can only be used on pre-established lawns. This is true of most pre-emergent broadleaf weed killers.
Best Broad Spectrum: Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer
- 1 Application blocks weeds up to 6 months guaranteed
- When used as directed Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer can be used...
- Flip-top applicator cap makes it easy to apply
The Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer is another pre-emergent herbicide that restrains weeds from growing in the first place. The difference is that this is a broad-spectrum herbicide that targets a wide range of the toughest broadleaf weeds: dandelions, crabgrass, white clover, chickweed, horseweed, and so much more.
In sad news, the Preen Weed Preventer targets your beloved plants as well. Hence, the non-selective herbicide should not be used on lawns, kitchen gardens, vegetable gardens, flower seeds, or near edible plants.
Don’t be discouraged just yet. If you’re looking to target large areas of unkempt land in a small period of time, the Preen Extended Control Weed Preventer is your best bet. It is still highly recommended.
These kinds of pre-emergent herbicides do not kill mature weeds. If you plan to use the Preen Weed Preventer, you need to remove all pre-existing dandelions. Furthermore, you should mulch the area beforehand and water the soil to activate the dandelion inhibitor.
The broad-spectrum weed killer requires you to prepare your lawn before you can use it, which, to be honest, is quite time-consuming.
A silver lining among all the hard work exists: you only have to do one application annually to kill dandelions and prevent them from growing year-round.
Selective Broadleaf Pick: Gordon’s Amine 400 2,4-D Weed Killer
- Easy to use
- High quality product
- Manufactured in United States
The Gordon’s Amine 400 2,4-D Weed Killer will restore your lawn to its full glory when it starts to resemble a dandelion wasteland.
It contains low volatile 2,4-D , which is a generic herbicidal ingredient. The great thing about 2,4-D is that it kills unwanted weeds but spares the grass. Therefore, it is the perfect weed killer for lawns.
Still, don’t get too complacent, the selective herbicide is quite aggressive to some endemic plants. So, you might want to keep this liquid poison separate from your kitchen garden or flower arrangements.
Moreover, you’ll need to take a number of precautionary steps before using the aggressive weed killer. No need to stress. Those pesky dandelions will be no match against it. You should expect to see results in as little as a week after application.
But when is the ideal application time?
Since it is a post-emergent herbicide, you should use it on mature dandelion plants, which means peak summer is the ideal application time.
Premium Pick: Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer Concentrate
- Kills weeds and prevents new growth for up to 1 year
- Kills unwanted vegetation from driveways, walkways, patios, fence rows and...
- Visible results in hours
One of the greatest strifes with modern herbicides is that herbicides can wash away if it rains, and, indeed, it is true. The rainwater washes away the herbicide before it even starts to take effect.
Enter the Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer Concentrate— a fast-acting weed killer it can hold its own against the rain.
Don’t let the name falter you. The selective herbicide spares most of your pre-established vegetation. It’s only dandelions and other unwanted weeds that end up suffering.
What’s more, you should start to see results almost immediately after application. The dandelion flowers will begin to wilt after a few hours and die completely within the following 1-2 weeks.
Also, you need to make sure that your children or your pets stay away from the freshly treated lawn. The aggressive weed killer turns your lawn into a hazard zone for up to a day and is extremely toxic.
Another Ortho product that is used a lot is the Ortho Weed B-Gon Weed Killer.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How To Kill Dandelions Naturally?
You can kill dandelions naturally when using a diluted vinegar solution.
The homemade herbicide penetrates the soil as deep as the roots run and kill the plant in a slow manner.
However, using vinegar is known to damage the surrounding grass and plants.
Other non-synthetic ingredients you might use to eliminate dandelions are:
• Pure vinegar (instead of diluted)
• Boiling water
• Isopropyl alcohol
You should use an organic dandelion killer or a homemade dandelion killer spray to ensure there is little exposure to toxic chemicals.
Your lawn grass, family, and pets will be better off for it.
Do Dandelion Plants Come Back Every Year?
Dandelion plants are perennial, and when left unchecked, the plants grow back each year. The growing season for dandelions is Spring.
It all depends on timing. If you use herbicidal treatments for killing weeds before or during the growing seasons, you will be able to prevent future growth.
The ultimate goal is to prevent growth.
Can You Get Rid Of Dandelions Permanently?
Pre-emergent dandelion killers are good when it comes to eliminating dandelions.
Dandelion killers are a type of herbicide and it prevents the flower from maturing and dispersing its seeds.
Post-emergent dandelion killers are just as effective but don’t account for the hundreds of seeds flowing freely around the area, which is a weak spot.
The best dandelion killer should be able to eliminate established broadleaf plants while simultaneously kills weed seeds as well.
If you have existing weeds in your lawn, you want to be using the best weed killers in the market. Whether it’s a natural dandelion killer or weed killer that can kill broadleaf weeds or other weeds.
Just know that most weed killers will kill most other weeds. You may need to try a few to see which weed killer is best for your lawn or yard.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.