Dandelions and Clover

katefisher(Z7_NorthernCA)June 16, 2006

Question about reducing specific weeds in my yard. We weed and feed a couple of times over the summer which is reasonably effective. The thing is that although I don't have dandelion flowers in the yard the weed itself remains. I end up pulling all the dandelions by hand because nothing else I have tried seems to kill them. As well, we seem to have a LOT more clover in the yard this year and they are apparently equally immune to weed killer.

Thank you.


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Dear Kathryn

Thank you very much for your inquiry. This is a very typical question that cuts across all aspects of lawn care. The first thing adage I want to put into your head is that weeds are only opportunists in turf settings. They exist because we give them the opportunity. If they return in abundance year after year, then we need to examine other part of our lawn care, specifically mowing, watering and fertility. A great example is clover. We can control clover with a combination of 2,4 D, MCPP and dicamba (Tri-Mec or Three Way in most stores) or with Triclopyr and Dicamba (Weed-B Gon New Formula). However, excessive clover is a sign of low nitrogen fertility. (Clover fixes its own nitrogen from the air.) Unless we address this, the clover will always return because we are providing an environment where it can out compete the turfgrass stand in your yard. Now, this could be you are not putting down enough nitrogen fertilizer or enough but your timing is slightly off. This is an easy adjustment. However, if you think the fertility is fine you may need to look at the watering practices or the soil type. With watering, is this place receiving too much water? This could be an effect of overlap form sprinklers. The excessive water will leach the nitrogen from the soil quicker, thus giving the clover the opening it needs. The soil type issue could be that the soil where the clover is growing is different from your other parts of the house and simply low in fertility levels, thus promoting clover. A little complicated and long winded? Perhaps, however I hope you can see how these factors are inter-related.

With the dandelions, we start from the same premise. We have to keep the fertility and water in balance, but now we need to deal with the mowing as well. Here the issue is cutting too much of the leaf blade off in one mowing (AKA scalping). We need to follow the one-third rule of never cutting more than 1/3 of the leaf blade off in one mowing. This will prove dramatic in increasing turf density and this is what crowd out the broadleaf weeds as they cannot get the sunshine requirement to germinate if the turf grass leaves are too thick.

One final great tip with regards to the dandelion and all the other broadleaf weeds we fight in the spring. Control these weeds in the fall with a herbicide described above. The first half of October is perfect, as it will control the weeds while they are in a early stage and they will not appear at all in the spring. This is great for dandelions as well as many other weeds. You need to apply to the whole yard as the weeds are very small and undetectable at this stage. However, because they are so small you can get away with a half rate that is on the labels.

Again, thanks for the question and let me know if you have more.


Trey Rogers
The Yard Doctor

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 7:40AM
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dear yard doctor
my yard (1 acre) is cover with dandelions and clover, i don't take care of it I just mow it with a tractor that all.I would like to get rid of the dandelions and keep the clover i don't mind the clover so how do i go about it. I live in quebec canada and for the last couple of years we are not allowed to use herbisides (like killex).Anxiously waiting for your answer
If your advice or answer to my problems are free of charge then i agree if not forget the whole thing thank you. Gilles

    Bookmark   May 13, 2009 at 12:29AM
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I don't know much about gardening, but since the house that we live in Germany comes with huge garden, i desperately need to maintain it. I need some advice, clover seems to have taken over the lawn, how do i deal with them?..

thank you and your advice is greatly appreciated.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2011 at 1:58PM
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