dandelion

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale). Photo: Betty Marose

Updated: April 16, 2021

Life cycle

Perennial; rosette of leaves 3- to 10-inches long with a high degree
of leaf variability ranging from deeply cut to almost entire. Milky sap when broken.
Yellow ray flowers borne on leafless, hollow stalks.

Reproduction

Reproduces by wind-blown seed; up to 15,000 seeds per plant; fleshy taproot survives cold weather to grow in spring.

Conditions that favor growth

Mowing the lawn too short.

Management in lawns

Cultural lawn care practices

Maintain healthy, dense turf that can compete and prevent weed establishment.

Mechanical management

Hand pulling or using an appropriate weeding tool are the primary means of mechanical weed control in lawns. This is a viable option at the beginning of an infestation and on young weeds. Hand pulling when the soil is moist makes the task easier. Weeds with tap roots like dandelions or have a basal rosette (leaves clustered close to the ground) like plantain are easier to pull than weeds such as Bermudagrass (wiregrass) or creeping Charlie (ground ivy) that spread with stolons or creeping stems that root along the ground.

Chemical treatment in lawns

  • Herbicides should be used as a last resort because of the potential risks to people, animals, and the environment. Be aware of these lawn herbicide precautions first. 
  • If you chose this option, spot treat weeds with a liquid, selective, postemergent, broadleaf weed killer applied when weeds are actively growing. Look for a product with one or more of the following active ingredients: 2, 4-D, MCPP (mecoprop), Dicamba* or Triclopyr.

*Do not spray herbicides containing dicamba over the root zone of trees and shrubs. Roots can absorb the product possibly causing plant damage. Refer to the product label for precautions.