Critter-friendly dandelion remedy?

Oswegian(Z5 IL)May 3, 2006

We got a yard full of dandelions this year. It looks like a pasture. My husband knows the stuff he's supposed to put on it to keep the neighbors from marching over here with pitchforks. He just didn't get it on the lawn in time.

But anyway, we have a lot of critters around here. Frogs, toads, chipmunks, birds, bunnies, possums, etc. I like them and don't want to hurt them. We put in plants they don't destroy, so they aren't bothering me; but they live around our yard.

What's that anti-dandelion stuff do to them? Anybody know?

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Hey Oswego,

I can't help you with the dandelions, but I would think that they'll be going to seed soon, so won't be so obvious? Maby wait until next year to deal with them. I'm sure the neighbors will appreciate the seeds all over their precious suburban lawns! Anyway, I'm in Aurora and having a lot of rabbit/chipmunk damage. My perennials do ok for the most part, can you recommend any annuals that are rabbit resistant?

It's probably wishful thinking, but I think maybe the weed killers don't hurt the critters since there are so many of them and so many chemicals at the same time?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2006 at 10:05PM
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Oswegian(Z5 IL)

Actually, I can recommend some annuals. We have bunnies around here all year, and they have never bothered snapdragons, marigolds or celosia I put out. It's funny, but I don't notice any rabbit damage at all. (If you want to see my snapdragon photos, I'll include the URL below.)

I put out sunflower seeds for rabbits and the chipmunks all winter, and they pretty much stick to those. I see the bunnies munching them late at night.

The chipmunks live under the porch, so I just put a handful down a hole there, and they never even have to come out. But the seeds are always gone in the morning.

You're right. The dandelions will be gone soon. To be honest, the weeds are what saved our lawn during the sprinkling ban. I'm not sure how that works, but it might have to do with not putting any weed killer on the lawn.

There were massive lawn die offs here in the subdivision during the drought. People are having to spend wads of cash on getting their lawns back here.

And the weeds are the only thing different between us and everybody else. It seemed like their leaves might have shaded the grass some, too. That's just my supposition.

I found out recently we might have to move out of state, so now I'm wondering how much trouble we should go to. We're going to have plenty of other things to concentrate on besides dandelions.

The weed killers do hurt the critters. The manufacturer tells you not to let your kids or animals on the lawn for a while after application. And it's a known fact that they hurt amphibians. We live by the Fox, like you do, so you're probably aware we have loads of amphibs around here.

Thanks for your response. Nice to hear from Aurora. :-) Pretty chilly this morning, isn't it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Snapdragons

    Bookmark   May 6, 2006 at 8:51AM
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rrobinson720(Zone 5 IL)

Dandelions love an alkaline lawn. So if your soil ph is over about 7.5, the dandelions will begin taking over. You might try testing the soil, then adding a little sulfur to bring the ph below 7.

But it won't be a quick fix. I've read that it will take a year or two for the grass to win out.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 2:51PM
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Your snaps are beautiful. I have never seen a planting like that. Did you design the patio specifically to allow for plantings? I love it! I didn't know that rabbits eat sunflower seeds. I have bird food I could share with them. Do you know if they eat other seeds? And yes, it was quite chilly, I put all of my annuals in the garage - just bought them and they were still in flats. Caladiums got to come in the house with me. Aren't they special!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2006 at 7:19PM
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Just remember that if you move and are selling your house, curb appeal is the first impression...and a lasting one...for potential buyers. After the dandelions are growing, the best thing I know to do is pull them out, root and all. At a minimum, snap the yellow flowers off so they don't go to seed...if it's not to late already.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2006 at 4:09AM
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NinjaPixie(z5 Chicago)

Hello -- I couldn't resist chiming in. I'm in North Aurora, also very near the Fox. It's beautiful out here!

We've got a serious load of dandelions in our grass, too, and we don't use chemicals. Our approach has involved manual pulling, and it works pretty well -- but on occasion we do get behind, unfortunately, and that's when it all goes horribly wrong. :)

Honestly, we don't mind a bit of "texture" in the grass, but we don't want to be rude neighbors and spread the seed, so we try to at least pop the blooms off. From time to time, I also need to hunt for thistles and start yankin'... they have a way of sneaking into the grass.

I'm not seeing too much rabbit/chipmunk damage so far, but in my bird/butterfly garden, year after year, the little boogers seek out any unprotected thing related to a coneflower and just gnaw it to the ground. Last year, they also had a great time taking one bite out of each of my Patio tomatoes, but didn't touch the heirlooms.

I have had pretty good luck dissuading the nibbles with a product called Liquid Fence, but it works pretty well at repelling people, too, I must admit. Wow, is that stuff rank.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 9:05AM
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Oswegian(Z5 IL)

Thank you for your ideas, ladies and/or fellas. My husband just gave in and put some ordinary fertilizer with the dandelion killer in it on the grass last weekend before the big rain. I solved my problem by not looking out the window. It makes me cringe. That was interesting about the alkalinity. I will keep that in mind.

Poppydog, snapdragons are in the toadflax family, and they thrive in poor soil. The substrate between the flagstones was limestone screenings, IIRC. The seeds just escaped from pots on the porch. Nowadays it's the stonecrop colonizing it from the far side of the patio. Didn't plan on that, but coulda figured, LOL!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 6:45PM
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Oswegan - Your flagstone, I can't believe that happened by luck. I think it's just wonderful.

Ninjapixie - You think Liquid Fence is bad? Try Plantskydd. It is very effective but I think it's WAY fouler than Liquid Fence. It gags me so bad, I have to run into the house immediately after spraying. It still stinks the next day. Plus, your plants have the lovely apprearance of being drenched in blood. It is the best I've found though, and only have to use it until the plants are big enough that the bunnnies stop eating them. I'm on year two of my bottle. Also, the nozzle doesn't clog. Everything else I've tried does. (Oh and yes, it's hideous, all natural and safe.)

It's nice to talk to locals - while I'm at it, I'm at a loss. I have about 15 perennials from The Growing Place. I was about to put them in the ground when the forcast said "Thunderstorms, high winds and downpours. I didn't think that would be good for new transplants. (I suspect I was right, those winds were BAD.) Now it's supposed to rain for the next 10 days. When do you think it will be safe to plant? I know I should'nt work sopping wet soil. I'm afraid I'm going to end up with a beautiful blooming patio garden I hadn't planned on. Oh, Mother Nature, why do you torture me so??

    Bookmark   May 12, 2006 at 11:42PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

--- That was interesting about the alkalinity. I will keep that in mind. ---

No need if you live in Illinois. The entire state has a soil ph range of 7.5 (the highest) to 5.2 (the lowest). In other words your state is an acidic state. Only the northern most portions have a neutral to slightly alkaline soil and only the southern most portions have a strongly acid soil.

If you wish to rid your property of dandelions, then use broadleaf weed killers, but look at the ingredient label and do some homework. A very popular weed herbicide is virtually non toxic to humans and animals, except dogs. It gives dogs cancer and affects their reproductive organs/hormones.

As a general rule I loathe chemical products, but here is how I look at it.

If you live in an area where people use chems to maintain weed free lawns you can either join them or grow weeds. If you say "I won't use the chems!' then you end up growing weeds which spread to your neighbor's yards and they do use chems to control them. They aren't very smart either. They go to Walmart and look for what is on sale. They don't do any research as to the toxic effects of what they carelessly spread around and they don't stop to consider drainage patterns that take their chemicals which rains wash onto your property.

So, one yard with no weed control infects 100 yards where the owners spread chems in a careless, carefree fashion.

What is more environmentally sound? Use chems and eradicate weeds or refuse to use them and have the neighborhood use them to control weeds introduced from your property?

    Bookmark   May 13, 2006 at 4:04AM
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