Now is not the best time to control dandelions

The key to control dandelions is the correct timing.

Dandelions are best controlled in the fall. Courtesy / Pixabay

By Alicia Harstad, NDSU Extension, Stutsman County

Spring has sprung and so have the dandelions. A common question I receive is how to control dandelions in a lawn. Most of us don’t like to see the yellow flowers all over our yard. However, despite the yellow flowers reminding us how many dandelions there are in our lawn, now is not the best time to control dandelions.

The key to controlling dandelions is to apply 2,4-D at the correct time. Dandelions are a perennial plant with a deep taproot. In the spring, the plant is focusing on flowering and growing leaves. A herbicide application in the spring may stunt dandelion growth. To get good control of dandelions, it requires killing the deep taproot. Therefore, the best time to control dandelions is to apply 2,4-D in the fall because the herbicide will be translocated down to the taproot, preventing the dandelions from being able to overwinter as well. Remember to always read and follow label directions.

It is important to keep in mind when trying to control dandelions to have patience. With all perennial weeds, persistence is a must. Perennial weed issues (especially heavy infestations) are seldom 100% controlled in one season. Herbicides are only a short-term solution for dandelion control. In order to retain a dandelion-free lawn for the long term, a healthy, vigorous lawn must be maintained through proper mowing, fertilization and irrigation in order to prevent the reestablishment of dandelions.

When in doubt, enjoy a little diversity in your lawn. A dandelion here and there in a yard isn’t all bad as long as they aren’t completely choking out the grass. Dandelion flowers can be beneficial for our pollinators. So, a little diversity in our lawns isn’t always a bad thing. For more information, contact the Stutsman County Extension Office at 701-252-9030 or email

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