Dandelions painting turf and lawns yellow

Another annual rite of spring is upon us: dandelions. The best time to control will be at the puff ball stage.

Following our long, dark, cold spring, the weather the last week has been out of a Pure Michigan ad. In addition to the turfgrass jumping out of the ground faster than we can mow, dandelions have now painted the landscape yellow. The dandelion flower is a rite of spring and perspective on them varies from utter disdain, to an ingredient for an interesting wine, to a nice, yellow addition to a Mother’s Day bouquet.

Dandelions Dandelions
(Left) Dandelions infesting a thin turf stand. (Right) Dandelion fields forever. Photo credits: Kevin Frank, MSU

If you view them as a blight to your patch of turf, resist the urge to go out and try to eliminate them with a broadleaf herbicide during this initial flower flush. Wait until the bright yellow flowers transition to the puff ball stage and then treat with a broadleaf herbicide.

Keep in mind that weeds are always trying to tell a story, and in the case of turfgrass many weeds are indicators of voids or poor turf density. Dense, healthy turf is more resistant to weed invasion, so if you can promote a healthy lawn with mowing high, mulching clippings back onto the turf and proper fertilization, you’ll likely have fewer weeds to control.

Although the most inexperienced turf manager would have no trouble identifying dandelions, that’s not the case with all of the weeds that trouble turf. Remember to visit www.msuturfweeds.net for help in identifying and controlling weeds in turf. Other resources for those wishing to live the turf life include our Michigan State University Extension Turf Tips and Clippings blog, and if you’re really looking to follow the turf life, you can follow me on Twitter at @MSUTurf.

Dr. Frank’s work is funded in part by MSU‘s AgBioResearch.

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