Friday, May 10, 2013

Dandelions in Turf

Kevin W. Frank
Assoc. Professor & Extension Turf Specialist

Following our long, dark, cold spring the weather the last week has been out of a Pure Michigan ad.  In addition to the turfgrass jumping out of the ground faster than we can mow, dandelions have now painted the landscape yellow.  The dandelion flower is a rite of spring and perspective on them varies from utter disdain, to an ingredient for an interesting wine, to a nice yellow addition to a Mothers Day bouquet.  If you view them as a blight to your patch of turf, resist the urge to go out and try to eliminate them with a broadleaf herbicide during this initial flower flush.  Wait until the bright yellow flowers transition to the puff ball stage and then treat with a broadleaf herbicide.  Broadleaf herbicides containing 2,4-D, MCPP, and MCPA all provide good to excellent control of dandelion.  At this time of year amine formulations are generally recommended over esters.  Amines improve in effectiveness as spring temperatures warm and they are safer than ester formulations when sensitive plants in the landscape are blooming.  The ‘Spring Broadleaf’ model at will help determine the proper timing for amine or ester formulations at your location.    

Dandelion fields forever. Photo:KWF

Keep in mind that weeds are always trying to tell a story and in the case of turfgrass many weeds are indicators of voids or poor turf density.  Dense, healthy turf is more resistant to weed invasion so if you can promote a healthy lawn with mowing high, mulching clippings back onto the turf, and proper fertilization you’ll likely have fewer weeds to control. 

Dandelions infesting a thin lawn. Photo: KWF
Always read, understand, and follow the label directions. Mention or exclusion of specific products does not represent an endorsement or condemnation of any product by Michigan State University.

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