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So I asked a question about how to remove the dandelion and thistle invasion from my lawn, and saw a similar question which mentioned an excellent tool. So I went ahead and purchased the Fiskar thingymabobber for removing deep dandelion roots.

Now the question is, how do I actually remove the dandelions/thistle without them coming back? I've tried, for a span of a couple of weeks each, strategies like:

  • Random weed removal
  • Remove weeds in a certain area
  • Remove weeds of a certain type

As far as I can tell, this is not really effective, because they're still everywhere.

What is the right strategy to remove weeds without them re-infecting cleaned-up areas and coming back?

Edit: I guess I need to be explicit about this: I'm not interested in any form of chemical control. This includes:

  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides
  • Anti-Weed fertilizers

I have young kids, and some agriculture going on, so I cannot afford anything but my already picked hand-weeding approach.

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My lawn is full of non-grass, and I'm fine with that. If it's green and doesn't mind being mowed, it's welcome. I actually avoid mowing the parts that are mostly strawberries at this time of year, and then starting mowing them again after we've eaten the strawberries.

But that doesn't mean everyone's welcome. There are some broad-leafed weeds I really don't want in my lawn. So we dig them up. It can take hours to do one small section of the lawn, and we have over an acre. Still, every year there are less and less of them. We work at home, so popping outside for ten minutes of digging up weeds is a great thing to do while waiting on a long build or just before a conference call when you don't want to start anything real. And get to know your weed - dig it up before it makes and spreads seeds.

This strategy probably won't work in a small suburban garden that you want to be grass only, because it takes time. But I suppose if you're willing to put in 30 minutes a day, and your lawn is small, that you can eradicate the weeds you don't want.

  • I'm not sure where you got the idea that I only want grass. I have some deliciousness growing here and there too. Sounds like your approach is what I already tried: remove them area by area. – ashes999 Jun 11 '14 at 14:10
  • Other answers were about being grass only and about herbicides. I wanted to provide another viewpoint. Glad to hear you share it. – Kate Gregory Jun 11 '14 at 14:21
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If you want to get rid of weeds for good (which I have never seen anyone actually do), The easiest way is to use herbicides. Dig out all the weeds, like you did before, then apply a preemergent herbicide, according to the directions on the product container. I use Snapshot, even though it was made for landscaped beds. You may want to start with a lawn product.

After that, you can spot treat regrowth from old roots with Roundup, or use a selective herbicide. I use Bayer Advanced. This will finish off the remaining established weeds.

After these steps, It is easier to use organic methods, like corn gluten meal, a weed suppressor + plant food. Also Iron X! selective lawn herbicide is completely safe, but may need to be concentrated, depending on conditions.

After a few years of preemergents, the amount of weed seedlings will drop, and you will find it easier to keep things under control. I have seen untreated lawns with almost no weeds, but these generally have near ideal soil conditions (tilth, ph level, fertility, organic matter content, moisture content, etc.), and a good amount of sun.

It is always easiest to keep weeds under control when you have a healthy, thick lawn. Mowing high also helps (it shades the ground more, and encourages deeper root growth, keeping the grass greener during dry spells.).

Basically, if you want to be completely natural, a clean lawn will be very hard work. I don't treat my lawn anymore, simply mowing whatever grows best.

  • My question already established my organic, rip-em-out approach of weed management. Your answer is actually not useful for me. – ashes999 Jun 11 '14 at 14:08
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Respecting organic is really hard! We try, but with moderate success. I can speak to Dandelions.

First, though, you need to know that the variables you are trying to control may not be the contributing ones. For example, what does you neighbor's yard look like? Are you on a busy street? Do you have few trees in your yard? The principal mechanisms for spreading these evil plants are, in this order: wind and hosts carrying them in. Under a microscope the dandelion seed looks like a mid-evil weapon built for cutting into whatever it touches and coasting through the air. Foot traffic and windy, open, environments could make your endeavor futile. All of these answers may not help you at all! I'm sorry to say.enter image description here

I have found that once these fellow's flowers are withered, you're dangerously close to a locally incurred bloom. Catching them when they still have small fresh flowers is key. If your yard is like mine, I get about a week between first noticing a dandelion and being able to count 20; move quick!

I recommend first heading off the flower before removing and bagging them. It only takes one of these wonderful floating seeds to sprout another headache(s). It's best to not jostle and lose the flower or risk spreading the seeds. I personally pull these before mowing, because they don't need to mature on the plant to be effective. I have found mulching these just adds to your troubles. Again, this is just what I have found.

I'm going to tread lightly with this suggestion. Applying vinegar to the roots (post pulling) is a great way to put a road block on the pulled ones coming back. While technically an herbicide it is organic and reasonably effective. We put our 3 y/o to work spraying all of the "yellow-flowers" and he has been shown to be a lethal force, even if there is some friendly fire occasionally. enter image description here

Another thing you can do is grow thick long grasses. This is not an end all be all, for sure, but it's one more thing to keep the pressure on. I notice that the dandelions will do very well where there is any sort of sun. It's more of a defense than anything else.

Finally, there really isn't much for practical control of these guys given how good they are at spreading themselves. You have to constantly fight them and incorporate treating them into your weekly maintenance if you want results. Best of luck.

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