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Most spring weed prevention tips will tell you to invest in a powerful weed killer and to remove any dandelions before they go to seed—and this is sound advice. However, in order to make the kind of change that will last, it’s important to start good, healthy lawn habits that will carry you through every season.
How to Prevent Dandelion Growth
The best thing you can do to prevent the growth of dandelions is to have a thick, green lawn. We know—it sounds oversimplified, and in many ways, it is. However, what dandelions and other weeds love most is neglect. They just love those bare patches you’ve been meaning to fill and hard-packed soil that’s difficult for grass seeds.
That’s why, by creating a lush and healthy lawn in the first place, you can prevent many kinds of weeds from taking root in the first place.
Early Spring Dandelion Care
Your early spring dandelion care (done before those weeds even make an appearance) should include aerating, dethatching, and overseeding your lawn. Grass tends to require a better balance of nutrients and oxygen than weeds, which are hardy and will sprout anywhere they can. Starting spring with a well-aerated and dethatched lawn will ensure that the soil isn’t too compact to foster healthy grass growth, but will also allow you to seed and fertilize, as needed.
Overseeding is also a good idea at this time—especially if you have bare patches, thin grass, or weren’t able to seed in the fall. Most experts recommend you wait until the temperatures are consistently in the 50s before you begin, which, for most of us, means early spring.
Late Spring Dandelion Care
Once your lawn has been given a chance to flourish, you can start introducing fertilizers, weed sprays, and other chemical treatments. Most new grass growth should be treated like a delicate plant, so wait until the grass has time to go through its peak growing season before you treat it.
Slow-release fertilizers tend to be less damaging on new growth, as are weed killers that can be applied directly to the weeds (as opposed to spread out over the lawn). General sprays or applications applied to the entire lawn tend to be better reserved for the fall, when the grass can tolerate it better. You also have the option of manually removing weeds as they appear, which can be done by hand or with a weed digger.
You can also combat weed growth in the spring by adjusting the height of your mower blade so that the grass remains between 2 and 3 inches high. Taller grass may need to be mowed more often, but the higher leaves shade weeds out and ensure that the grass has all the chlorophyll and moisture it needs to stay healthy and continue growing throughout the year.
Continued Upkeep and Maintenance
Nothing will help your lawn remain weed-free forever. That’s why you’ll need to stay on top of your lawn care regimen and keep an eye out for those pesky dandelions. As soon as you start to spot them cropping up for another year, it’s time to look at what you can do to improve your lawn’s condition.