Dandelions can be a menace to home owners who want that incredible “curb appeal” of a lush thick green lawn. But did you know that Dandelions are in your yard for a reason (or maybe multiple reasons)? Yup it’s true! As most things in nature, dandelions have a job (or two) to do. No none of their jobs is to make your life harder, although it may seem that way sometimes.
Dandelions are known as an “indicator plant” They are there because something about the soil they are in is less than ideal. Whether that’s your lawn or the orchard in the back 40.
Let’s discuss what having dandelions in your soil may be telling you.
#1: Your soil is compacted
The role of that main tap root of the dandelion is to break up compacted soil to allow moisture and nutrition into your soil. Creating a more fertile environment.
But what happens if you pull out those dandelions before they have accomplished their mission? They send out a “signal” calling for more dandelions seeds to be dropped in that area. No really, it’s true! They have a job to do, and if you remove them before the job is done, nature calls in the troops to continue the mission.
What else does having dandelions tell you?
#2 Your soil is lacking calcium
Dandelion roots dig deep into the soil looking for the useable calcium. If you have ever pulled dandelions up intact, you may recall just how long and hearty some of the root systems are. Those long roots are looking for calcium and drawing it up into the leaves and stems, and flowers of the dandelions. So why do they do this? They know that your soil need the calcium that it cannot get to, and they also know that once they wilt and die off, all that calcium they have drawn up into the leaves, stems and flowers will them be released back to the top layer of the soil where it is needed most. As the dandelions decompose the calcium is released.
Should I pull dandelions or use a fertilizer that targets and kills weeds such as dandelions? If you can resist that urge, do so. Dandelions will naturally start to disappear as they have completed their job. Whether it’s breaking up and loosening compacted soil or bringing calcium back to the surface layer once there is no longer a need for that to happen, the dandelions will die off, and not come back. So leaving them is going to give you a more healthy soil, and in a season or two they will go away naturally and not return. Killing them or pulling them does not do cure the soil condition that brought them to your yard or pasture, so they will continue to return, and you’ll continue to chase them and be aggravated. If you mow, and leave the clippings lay instead of bagging them, that can be a “happy medium” which allows the roots to stay active and the calcium filled vegetation to decompose on that top layer of soil.