The best time to spray dandelions

Finally – Spring has sprung!

dandelion fuzzSpring has finally sprung in our part of the world, and with it comes the urge to get out in the garden and getting your hands a bit dirty as you prepare the gardens, lawns and flowerbeds for a summer of enjoyment.

As the snow left and the lawns started greening up we had a colourful reminder of what happened last fall – dandelions, dozens of the little beggars poking up and  popping out with their bright yellow blooms. This is highly unusual for us to have dandelions showing up in the spring, as I have a pretty fool proof method of eliminating them – and yes, it entails the use of that currently not so sexy word – herbicides!

What do dandelions & bears have in common?

Having worked around herbicides for most of my life, I have a very good understanding of them, and also a healthy respect for the potential dangers with their use. I do believe that when there is a viable alternative to their use we should pursue it, but also am not afraid to use them when necessary, and use them judiciously and as directed by the label.

bearI’ve found through experience that the absolute best time to spray for dandelions is as late as possible in the fall. It’s that time of the year that all plants are preparing for winter and are vigorously feeding their root system – a bit like how a bear gorges on berries in the fall, readying their bodies for a winter’s hibernation. You need the herbicide to enter the root system to be the most effective, and that’s hard to do when you spray in the spring when the plant is actively growing top growth.

An added benefit is at this time of year you need far less herbicide to do the trick, and if you can obtain a “commercial” type, such as farmers use, then you’ll need even less!

Last fall winter came early and with a vengeance.

The yellow speckled lawn appearing this spring was a reminder that mother nature hit us with a blast of winter about a month earlier than normal last year, and as a result I missed my annual dandelion spraying that I do just before freeze up. Our lawn is in good shape for dandelion populations as I keep on top of them pretty well, however we have some neighbours who don’t share my opinion on the safety of herbicides and insist on just letting them thrive. Sadly, our lawn becomes the recipient of all the dandelions fuzz from either side, so even though it’s dandelion free in spring, by fall the inevitable has happened, and seeds have set and young plants are established.

Normally it’s no problem, as a quick spray 4-5 days before freeze up and they are done for. Actually this is also the perfect time to do a winterizing lawn fertilizer application too.

Not last fall however.

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