3 Natural Ways to Get Rid of Dandelions—and Keep Them From Coming Back

These weeds can be difficult to get rid of once they spread, but it isn't impossible.

<p>Bernard Lynch / Getty Images</p>

Bernard Lynch / Getty Images

Despite their bright color and cheerful blooms, dandelions are a weed that many people don't want growing in their yard or garden. Once they go to seed, dandelions take over the landscape and can be quite difficult to maintain. Luckily, they're not impossible to banish. We asked experts to share a few natural ways to get rid of dandelions—and keep them from coming back.

Meet the Expert

  • Larry Stein, PhD, associate department head, professor, and extension horticulturist at Texas A&M AgriLife

  • Sonya Query, master gardener and marketing director for Love, Plants, Inc., a brand that makes certified organic products for soil and plant health

Related: 21 Weeds and Invasive Plants That Are Actually Delicious—Here's How to Use Them in Your Cooking

What Are Dandelions and Why Are They So Prolific?

While dandelions are commonly referred to as weeds, they're actually members of Taraxacum, a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae, says Larry Stein, PhD, associate department head, professor, and extension horticulturist at Texas A&M AgriLife.

Dandelion seeds are easily carried in the wind, which is why they are so common and difficult to get rid of. "They can grow in almost any condition and can regenerate from a little piece of root left behind when weeding," says Sonya Query, master gardener and marketing director for Love, Plants, Inc.

Pros and Cons of Dandelions

Although they're commonly perceived as a negative, there are some reasons people leave dandelions in their yard.


While commonly seen as a nuisance in the yard, dandelions do have some great benefits. They are an edible, medicinal plant containing vitamins A, C, and K, says Query. "They’re also one of the first blooms in spring, helping pollinators when little else is available," she says. "They can grow in unhealthy soil, helping to colonize areas by attracting other beneficial insects and breaking up compacted clay."


Other than their appearance (and the amount of work you’ll need to do to remove them once they start to take over), there aren’t too many downsides to having these plants in your yard. "Dandelions can be quite helpful and the only reason to remove them is aesthetic preference," says Query.

When Should You Remove Dandelions From Your Yard?

If you want to catch dandelions before they start spreading, remove them before their seed ball (the white ball of fluff that forms before the yellow flowers) disperses. Removing them early also helps you get to them before their long tap root grows, which is hard to pull out in its entirety while weeding. However, if keeping your local pollinators happy is a priority, you should leave the dandelions alone until May when a more consistent variety of other plants will be available.

How to Get Rid of Dandelions

There are a few natural and effective ways to remove dandelions from your yard.

Remove Dandelions With Tools

Digging down deep will help you reach the roots of the dandelion, which is easiest to do using a tool with a sharp edge. "Use a knife or small shovel to undercut the plant's main root in the ground when small (or with seed head) and remove," says Stein.

Hand-Pull Dandelions

You don’t need to run to your garden shed to tackle these plants. Instead, just wait until after a good soaking rain and then pull them up by hand. Grasp the dandelion at the base of the stem and pull gently and steadily so that the whole tap root comes up, says Stein.

Use a Natural Herbicide

A natural herbicide of vinegar and a few drops of dish soap can work wonders when it comes to removing weeds from your yard. "Spray the mixture onto the dandelion for about three seconds so it's thoroughly covered on a sunny day," says Stein. "Reapply if needed—established dandelions may regrow from their roots." When using this technique, it's important not to spray nearby plants, which can also be killed in the process.

Related: This 3-Ingredient Homemade Weed Killer Uses Vinegar to Safely Remove Unwanted Plants

How to Keep Dandelions From Coming Back

Because of how quickly dandelion seeds can spread and how deep the roots can go, keeping dandelions from returning can be a bit tricky. But there are some ways that will keep them from overtaking your lawn.

Prevent Reseeding

The most effective way to prevent weeds from returning is by removing the plants and seed heads before they reseed, says Stein. But note that this process can be difficult since it’s so easy for the seed ball to blow from other yards into yours.

Mow Your Grass Tall

Another good way to keep dandelions out of your grass has to do with your grass cutting schedule. "You can also mow your grass tall, and overseed to crowd out the dandelions," Query says.

Improve Soil Conditions

Testing and amending your soil can also increase the health of your other plants, which can decrease the likelihood of dandelions getting a foothold in your yard and taking over, says Query.

Read the original article on Martha Stewart.