Least-Toxic Control of Dandelions Choose a different pests

Factsheet: See Beyond Pesticides' guides Maintaining Sustainable Lawns and Landscapes or Establishing New Lawns and Landscapes page for in-depth information about how to develop soil systems that prevent weeds (unwanted plants).

See also: Read Your "Weeds"


Pest type: Plants

In-depth Information:
The dandelion is a readily identifiable, hardy, perennial weed. It has a rosette base producing several flowering stems, yellow flowers, and multiple leaves. The flower head can change into a familiar, white globular seed head overnight. Each seed can spread far with the aid of winds.

Is it a problem?

Weeds may cause allergies or lead to skin rash on contact. Most weeds are simply a nuisance because they are considered unappealing in a lawn. A few weeds should be tolerated, but weed infestations that overtake turfgrass are signs of unhealthy soil.

Pest prevention practices

Remove potential habitat
Foster natural resilience

In-depth Information:
Having healthy soil, using at least two native turfgrasses, proper watering, and a sensible landscape design can all help your lawn ecosystem develop a natural resistance to weeds. Indeed, dandelions and other weeds in your lawns are often a sign that the balance of your soils are off. Low pH and soil compaction tend to promote dandelion growth, so aerate your lawns and apply lime to raise the pH levels.

Monitoring and record-keeping

Keep an eye out in your lawn for areas where dandelions begin to take root. The first ones may be a sign that your soils are compacted and too low in pH. A few dandelions however, are not harmful and in fact help promote bee and other pollinator health.

Non-chemical and mechanical controls

Create a barrier
Flame treatment
Boiling water
Mow lawn above 2 inches
Aerate soils
Proper watering
Handpick and destroy

In-depth Information:
Hand pull weeds when the ground is moist. Be sure to remove vegetative parts to prevent re-sprouting. Tools and machines are available to make pulling easier.

Biological controls

Goats are herbivorous foragers that are very effective at controlling weeds since grass is their least desirable food choice. They can be especially effective for roadside management, along railroad tracks, parks, forests, etc. Many people now make a living by contracting themselves and their herd out for weed control around the nation.

Least-toxic chemical options as a last resort

  • Horticultural vinegar, or acetic acid, is also effective at killing certain weeds. Avoid spraying other green vegetation, such as turfgrass, since this is a nonselective plant killer.
  • Herbicidal soaps are highly refined soaps that can penetrate the waxy coating on plant leaves, causing them to dry out.

Acetic Acid (Vinegar)

Corn Gluten Meal


Chemicals to Avoid

Look at your product labels and try to avoid products containing those chemicals listed below:

(A = acute health effects, C = chronic health effects, SW = surface water contaminant, GW = ground water contaminant, W = wildlife poison, B = bee poison, LT = long-range transport)

2,4-D (C, SW, GW, W, B)

Atrazine (C, SW, GW, W)

Bensulide (A, C, W, B)

Carbaryl (A, C, SW, GW, W, B)

Clopyralid (A, C, GW, W)

Dicamba (A, C, GW, W)

Diquat Dibromide (A, C, W)

Florasulam (A, C, SW, GW, W, B)

Glyphosate (C, SW-URBAN, GW, W, B)

Imidacloprid (A, C, SW, W, B)

Isoxaben (GW, W)

MCPA (C, GW, W, B)

Mecoprop (MCPP) (GW, W)

Pendimethalin (C, GW, W)

Triclopyr (GW, W)

Trifluralin (C, SW, GW, W, LT)