Dandelion Roots - Is It True?

ARiverRunsMay 5, 2013

I've been digging dandelions out of my lawn and cannot get all of the taproot each time. I have clay soil and I hit clay and rocks about 2-3 inches down. Often it feels like the bottom of the taproot is wedged under one of the rocks. Many of these taproots are 10" long, so I don't always manage to get all of the root.
So is it true, or is it just a "saying" that's been passed around for years - if we don't get the complete dandelion root, it will simply grow back again? Has anybody ever tested this (maybe by planting a small piece of taproot to see if it actually does regrow)?
So even if the dandelions do regrow from the small pieces of roots left in the ground, am I any further ahead by doing all this work? Like, maybe when the dandelions do regrow they will be smaller/more manageable so at least I'll see some improvement? Or would I be better off using all this time and effort in a more effective way to organically kill my weeds?
Thanks for whatever advice you can provide.

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hortster(6a, southcentral KS)

Last fall I prepared a new veggie garden area. I had quite a few dandelions there (20-30), but before tilling I used the old 7" dandelion digger on them, leaving the bottom of the taproot on quite a few because they were pretty well established. There were enough of them to make me believe that after tilling last fall I would see a few this spring, but none have shown. Either fall tilling after removal got them, or I got really lucky or just a tidbit of root isn't enough to come back. Others may argue, just telling you my experience!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 5:41PM
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Dandelions do grow back from root pieces left in the soil as well as germinate from seeds. Keep in mind that Dandelions produce seeds prolifically and they float around as well as being moved about by birds.
Tilling a garden bed can put the bits of Dandelion root on, or near, the surface where they most likely will get frozen and die. Tilling a lawn each fall is probably not a viable option.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 7:35AM
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Thanks for your response.
So I guess I'm wasting my time trying to dig out dandelions that have taproots "between a rock and a hard place" - literally.
So, I guess I'll just pull the flowers off the top (to help prevent them from going to seed), and hope that their numbers gradually decrease as I improve the overall conditions of my soil/lawn through organic gardening practices.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2013 at 10:01AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

Are you using a dandelion fork? They work well, and while you're doing it, you can mutter, "fork you, weed!"

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 11:08AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

Make lemonade out of lemons! Dig them up, and cook the leaves! Free vegetables! Dandelion Greens are very edible!

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 4:37PM
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Ha ha - I'll have to remember that fork phrase :)
Yes, I do have a fork, and I do water before digging (to soften the soil). In the flower beds, which have been amended with REAL soil, the dandelions come out as smooth as a knife coming out of butter. But under the lawn, where it's mostly clay and rocks, getting the roots out is pretty hit and miss.
I don't know what I'm going to do with these. I've scalped the lawn to cut the heads off the dandelions so they don't go to seed. But there are still thousands of buds lower than the lowest level of the mower, just waiting to pop out in the next couple of days.
Eating the enemy? Bad karma...

    Bookmark   May 7, 2013 at 10:00PM
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Here's the method I use up to 48 hours after a rain. Use a roofing fork and start about 6 inches to a foot away from the dandelion, depending on size, then go in at a 45 degree angle until the tips of the fork are under the plant where you think the tip of the root is at. Put firm pressure on the center of the weed with your fingers, palm or fist and then slowly apply downward pressure on the handle of the fork until you feel the dandelion pop. Release pressure on the fork, grab up as much of the dandelion as you can and jiggle it until it comes out. Remove the fork and tamp lightly with your foot to resettle the lawn.

I find when working around trees to keep the tines of the fork at a radian angle to the tree. If you feel the dandelion holding tight, move the fork closer and increase the angle, trying to hit the same approximate spot at the bottom of the root where you think it originates.

When it got so horribly dry last year I dug out most of the plantain and weed grasses in the yard (they were the only things still green and easy to see), my husband lamented that I left the dandelions. I've been working on them with the wet spring weather and almost have it down to a science. I should make a video, lol.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2013 at 6:07AM
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