Early-Blooming Dandelions

Something that I expected, and we are already experiencing, is Dandelions blooming extremely early this season. This can be explained pretty easily, but what can be done about them is a bit more complex.

To fully understand why we are witnessing so many dandelions blooming so early this spring, it’s as simple as looking back at last fall’s weather conditions. In many places, last fall we experienced fairly warm weather compared to the last few we’ve had. On Christmas day, I was actually able to get pictures of some dandelions blooming, which was the first dandelionstime I’d ever seen this. I jokingly mentioned to my wife that we might actually receive some calls from customers wanting us to treat their lawns. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t complaining about the nice weather (it did extend the golf season), but I knew seeing all of those weeds so late in the year would spell some headaches this spring.

Due to the warm fall weather last year, those pesky dandelions were able to germinate late in October and early November and grew pretty big, even blooming in late December as I mentioned above. Typically in the fall, dandelions will germinate and start growing prior to the winter season and will then enter a state of dormancy once the temperatures drop. Typically they are small in the spring and some will germinate once the soil warms up. They are usually the first weed that you notice on the lawn due to their yellow flower.

A lot of people, once they see dandelions flowering, want to get out there and treat them immediately. However, treating them when the nights are still cool and the soil temperatures are as well can mean slower results. I have seen early applications take more than a month for the weeds to die. Also, treating dandelions too early on can lead to having to treat the lawn a number of times rather than just once. Keep in mind, herbicides used to control broadleaved weeds do not prevent them from germinating, they only get rid of the weeds that are up and growing. So if you’re too early, you will miss a lot of those late-germinating plants such as plantain or knotweed (to name just a few), therefore resulting in having to re-treat your turf each time a new set of weeds germinates throughout the season. Those who wait to treat their lawn will experience better results, with less amount of time and product required, saving you some cost.

What if the dandelion flowers and turns to seed? Not to worry! It will anyways once the herbicide is applied; and regardless, if it does or doesn’t, there are thousands of seeds lying dormant in the soil already, so adding more really won’t make much of a difference. The best defense against weeds is a healthy, thick lawn that will help prevent those seeds from germinating. A lush and nutrient-filled turf will also keep them from getting the sunlight they require in order to germinate.

Questions about your lawn? Weed Man would be happy to help you. Find your local Weed Man using our locator map HERE.

Keep those lawns healthy,

Chris

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6 thoughts on “Early-Blooming Dandelions

  1. Very well done Chris On Apr 22, 2016 9:30 AM, “On the Lawn with Weed Man” wrote:

    > Weed Man Lawn Care posted: “Expect some early blooming Dandelions this > spring. Something that I expected, and we are already experiencing, is > Dandelions blooming extremely early this season. This can be explained > pretty easily, but what can be done about them is a bit more complex. ” >

  2. I’ve been amazed by the amount of dandelions in my area this spring… Southern York County, Pa. Untreated/low-input (but otherwise established) lawns are just completely overrun with them… thicker than I’ve ever seen. Even the lawns that appear to be basically well maintained are harboring these deep-rooted devils in uncommonly large numbers.

    Couple questions, Weed Man:
    1. Will the large number of dandelions we’re seeing now persist throughout the entire season, until fall/winter? (if left untreated)
    2. As far as those lawns I mentioned above which are so thickly covered with the dandelions: are these lawns at risk of being lost this year if the dandelions are left unaddressed? Is it likely for these lawns to reach a point where the dandelions will have choked the grass out to such a degree that the homeowner will need to start over from scratch and put in a new lawn?

    Thanks!

    • Mowhawk: Thanks for reading! They really are making an appearance this year, aren’t they?!

      To answer your first question: Because dandelions are a perennial weed they will last throughout the year and even into the following year.

      To answer your second question: It will depend on a few things. First is if the lawn is being fertilized or looked after properly, like cutting at a high height and proper watering. Those things will keep the grass healthier and therefore survive better. Dandelions, if left unchecked, like other weeds, will out-compete the turf for nutrients and sunlight which will eventually thin out the turf. If it is a dry year and the lawn is not maintained, the weed invasion will be way worse and you will likely have to do a renovation in order to establish the turf again.

      Hope this helps! Have a great day!

  3. Hey Weed Man!

    1. Dandelions are really terrible here in my grass this year (Indiana). I have a question regarding herbicide. Isn’t that really bad for the grass even though it helps the dandelion issue?
    2. Do you know if it’s really beneficial to cut your lawn higher to retain the “green” look?

    Thanks so much for your time!
    –Nick

    • Hi Nick,

      Thanks for your questions regarding the early bloom of dandelions. If you use a selective herbicide, it is not bad for the grass. Selective herbicides, as the name implies, are selective in controlling the dandelions with no harm to the turf, if label directions are followed correctly.

      Selective herbicides contain Auxins that are found naturally in the plant and by applying more of this to the broadleaf weeds it will speed up the growth of the broadleaf weed causing it to be stressed out which then leads to the death of the plant. There are no real clear reasons why this does not affect the turf grass other than it appears that the grass has the ability to process the Auxins far better and more efficiently than a broad leaf weed.

      However if you apply a non-selective herbicide then, of course, this would have an undesirable effect on the turfgrass. I have seen many a homeowner make that mistake and it’s not pretty. The problem is the homeowner will walk into a store and see a dandelion on the bottle and not read the directions. They bring it home and apply it not realizing it’s a non-selective control and it creates some major damage to the lawn. I see it time and time again.

      As for your second question, I always recommend leaving your lawn as high as you can (3.5 inches, especially in the summer). I’ve had so many customers complain that their lawn is not as green as the neighbors and 99% of the time it is all due to mowing height. The longer it is, the greener it will look, especially in the hotter summer months. The higher it is mowed, the longer the roots will be, which makes the turf healthier. Also, the longer it is, the better it can process food – the leaves are there for a reason, and the more leaf surface area there is available, the more food production there will be, as it converts sunlight into sugars.

      Yours Truly,

      Chris Lemcke

      • Chris, I really appreciate the extensive answer. I’m eager to get into making my lawn better and excited to use this knowledge.

        I’ve read another place about mowing higher, that’s why I asked. That’s 2-for-2 on mowing the grass higher to be greener!

        Have a great day,
        Nick Henry

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