In all the gardening groups I am in, one thing that keeps popping up with everyone’s spring enthusiasm is How to get rid of weeds (usually dandelions).
You’ll see all kinds of recipes for “Natural” weed killers. Usually this is some variable ratio of Vinegar, Dish Soap and Epsom Salts. Vinegar will kill your weeds. It will also kill some beneficial life in your soil, and the weeds will come back, but the soil life won’t.
So my number one way to get rid of weeds in a yard… Elbow Grease and persistence. It is unlikely to be able to get out every piece of Dandelion root when you are pulling them from your yard. This is where the persistence part comes in. With our big human brains, opposable thumbs and muscles, I hope that we can be more stubborn than some kind of weed you don’t want in your yard. The longer you stick to this battle, the easier it gets over time. The energy in the roots, will allow the plant to re-grow, but the more you keep pulling them, the more energy is wasted from the root, and eventually there will be no root energy left to regrow from.
Never let them (especially dandelions) go to seed. Pull as soon as you see those little leaves pop up, before they have a chance to start building that big tap root.
Grass – If you start getting grass (especially quack grass around here) in your flower beds. It is in your best interest to diligently dig every piece of grass root out of the soil. Any tiny piece of their roots that is left in the soil, will grow a whole new plant, and that will spread.
Elbow grease will always be your best battle against weeds. Weeds (especially annual weeds), tend to grow in open, disturbed soil, so try and keep your beds covered in some kind of mulch. Try and replicate a forest floor and use things that are going to add and support your soil life. The healthier your soil, the healthier your plants.
One note before I end this post. If you are trying to leave dandelions for the bees: Just get to them before they go to seed, as you may like the cheery yellow flowers, but the thousands and millions of seed that can spread from those dandelions – Not everyone likes them and they are scattered by the wind. But also know that there are plenty of other quality sources of pollen and nectar for the bees and pollinators.
One last note: I try to stick to natural methods in my own garden. But chemicals have a time and place. I think when they are overused and primarily misused, is when we have problems. I will definitely advocate elbow grease over chemicals 99% of the time, but I have used round up on invasive noxious weeds as required. At the end of the day, you get to choose what is right for you and your garden.