How to get rid of dandelions – from lawns and patios

Discover how to get rid of dandelions that have seeded themselves around the yard

(Image credit: Alamy)

If their yellow flowers are sprouting from your lawn, borders or on patios or terraces, you’ll need to know how to get rid of dandelions.

They’re quick to flower and produce lots of seeds that are spread by the wind, so they can quickly seem like a real nuisance. And they’re tough, too. If you don’t remove a dandelion completely it can grow again.

Our guide has the details on how to get rid of dandelions to keep your lawn green and thick, and borders, patios and driveways free of these unwanted flowers.

How to get rid of dandelions

Dandelions may be a favorite of kids making wishes, but gardeners generally aren’t fans of the fluffy seedheads nor the yellow blooms that precede them.

There are different ways to get rid of dandelions, and we’ll give you the lowdown on the options here. Bear in mind, however, that they provide nectar and pollen for insects, so if there are areas of the yard where you can put up with their presence, you’ll be helping to support insect populations. Dandelions can also be used as herbal remedies and for culinary purposes.

How to get rid of dandelions by hand

If there are a few dandelions growing in the lawn getting rid of them by hand can be the best strategy. Dig them out, but make sure to get as much of the lengthy tap root as you can otherwise they can regrow. 

This is a job to do before the dandelions flower if possible, and certainly before the seedheads develop. Look out for the characteristic rosette of leaves, which may be pink near the base.

‘It’s worth doing this job after it’s rained – or try watering the lawn first,’ recommends Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens. ‘It will be easier to remove the whole plant, including the tap root.’

While you can use a garden trowel to get rid of dandelions, you may want to invest in a special tool to help. We like Grampa’s Weeder from Amazon, which has a metal claw to grab hold of these plants, which can then be levered out of the ground. It avoids the need to bend over while working, too, saving your back.

How to get rid of dandelions in a lawn with weed killer

If working by hand won’t solve this weed problem, you might want to know how to get rid of dandelions from a lawn with weed killer. If this is the route you take, be aware that herbicides can be harmful to other plants and be mindful of the implications for humans and wildlife.

A weed killer containing 2,4-D or dicamba, for example, can kill dandelions in lawns with one or two applications necessary. Always make sure the weed killer you select is suitable for the type of grass in your lawn, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to get rid of dandelions in borders

Where removal by hand isn’t possible in borders and beds, a spot treatment could be the answer, allowing the weed killer to be applied to individual plants. We like RoundUp Precision Gel Weed & Grass Killer from Amazon. The gel is applied to the leaves, so other plants aren’t affected, and it promises to kill the roots of dandelions so they don’t come back.

How to get rid of dandelions in hard surfaces

When dandelions are growing between patio pavers or in driveways, opt for either a spot treatment, as above, or use a patio weed killer. Follow manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe application.

How do I permanently get rid of dandelions?

To permanently get rid of dandelions, the tap root needs to be removed completely if you’re doing the job by hand, or killed with herbicide. Otherwise, this broadleaf perennial will keep coming back. 

‘If you prefer not to use weed killer, be mindful that it may take repeated efforts to fully remove the root of a plant,’ says Lucy Searle, global editor in chief of Homes & Gardens.

Once you have removed dandelions, it’s important to keep the grass healthy by feeding and fertilizing a lawn, which will reduce the opportunity for them to flourish.

Does vinegar kill dandelion roots?

Vinegar doesn’t kill dandelion roots – or at least the sort you have in your pantry doesn’t. ‘Household vinegar is not strong enough to kill dandelions. Household vinegar is only 5 per cent acetic acid,’ says Anne Schmidt, Oregon State University extension service master gardener volunteer. 

She points out that horticultural vinegar (available at Amazon), which is used as a weed killer is stronger, but this should only be used when wearing adequate personal protection equipment. ‘The other problem with vinegar is that it kills the leaves, but the tap root remains, so the dandelion comes back,’ she points out. 

Sarah Warwick
Contributing Editor

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.