How to Kill Dandelions in Lawn Organically

by Genevieve on February 11, 2010

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I just got a nifty tip on how to kill dandelions organically when they are growing in your lawn or in the center of another plant: injection with vinegar-based organic weed killer.

You may have found that if you spray non-selective herbicide, organic or otherwise, on your dandelion that you end up with a dead patch of lawn to match your dead dandelion, which is so not cool. You can try getting the long taproot out manually with your soil knife, but it often takes a few tries because if you leave any portion of that taproot, you’re in for another dandelion soon.

It’s even harder to get rid of dandelions in the center of perennials or small shrubs, because you don’t want to injure your good plant with vigorous digging at the taproot, and you certainly can’t spray.

So when Susan Lewis, maker of Weed Pharm (a food-grade organic herbicide made from concentrated vinegar/ 20% acetic acid), gave me this tip, I was thrilled!

Here’s what you do:

  • Get a small syringe without a needle (the ones used to give cats medicine by mouth, about 40 cc’s, work great)
  • Put 3/4 of an ounce of Weed Pharm in the syringe
  • Inject your dandelion deep in to the head (or growth node) with the Weed Pharm, aiming for the central spot where all the leaves spring from, or alternately lift the foliage and come in at the top of the taproot from the side
  • Wait patiently for two weeks, during which time your dandelion will look perfectly happy
  • After a couple weeks, you can lift the top of the dandelion right off of the poor, pickled taproot

Weed Pharm vinegar weed killer

The whole injection-by-hand thing may sound like a pain, but if your dandelions have really good taproots and keep coming back, I’d think 20 seconds per weed is well worth it being gone forever.

Susan’s working with some folks to develop an injection system that can be used standing up, which is great news for pros or those who just have a lot of stinkin’ dandelions.

Another cool thing to note is that while spraying herbicide (any kind) is only effective on dry days with temperatures above 60 degrees Fahrenheit, injection of herbicide can be done in the dead of winter with the rain pouring down.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Town Mouse February 11, 2010 at 10:07 pm

Great advice! They don’t just grow in lawns… And I have one that’s been coming back for 2 years. Should be interesting to try this.

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Monica the Garden Faerie February 12, 2010 at 6:53 am

Actually, my whole “lawn” consists of about 75% weeds. I just keep it mowed frequently and it looks green and keeps the flowers from turning to seed. I’ve also never had to water it, in the nearly 8 years I’ve lived here, because weeds stay green on their own. If I ever have to move, I’m really dreading having to have turf grass again!

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Jean February 12, 2010 at 8:46 am

I use 20% vinegar on the weeds that grow in the cracks of my driveway. Unfortunately it never kills the roots so I end up re-applying it a few times a year. I’m wondering if this technique will work with them (they’re not big weeds like dandelions). I’ll give it a try this summer and do a post on it if it works. Thanks for the tip!

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Genevieve February 12, 2010 at 8:49 am

Jean, I think it mostly works with weeds that have a taproot, so basically not grasses. I’ll be keen to hear your experience!

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rebecca sweet February 12, 2010 at 7:18 pm

Great advice, Gen. I’ll most definitely forward this link to my clients….(I think I send more of my clients to YOUR blog than MINE!)…keep up the great work!

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Debbie February 13, 2010 at 12:36 pm

Interesting reading, Gen. I will have to try the technique this spring. Got any advice about getting rid of crabgrass???
.-= Debbie´s last blog ..An Award for Baptisia australis =-.

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Genevieve February 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Aww, Rebecca, thanks so much!! That is really sweet of you! I’ve actually forwarded my clients to YOUR pruning tutorials too, so the love goes both ways! I love your one about listening to what your plants are telling you. That one is ace.

And Debbie – OH! I WISH!! I’d be rich, dude.

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Dirty Girl Gardening February 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Orrrrr…. keep them and harvest the leaves! They are so healthy for you and great in salads or even tacos!
.-= Dirty Girl Gardening´s last blog ..Dirty Love. =-.

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Genevieve February 16, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Dirty Girl, awesome suggestion, I always forget they’re edible in my organic garden, despite being told by many hippie friends that they are delicious. I really have to try that soon!

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tom | tall clover farm February 23, 2010 at 2:09 pm

My current state of denial is that if I mow them they disappear…well at least for a week a two.
.-= tom | tall clover farm´s last blog ..Trumpet & Oriental Lilies: Perfection in Bloom =-.

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