Dandelions – a gardener's worst enemy?

A Sneeboer dandelion trowel on grass surrounded by dandelions

We don’t take part in ‘no mow May’ – not because we are precious about our lawn in any way, but because we have some areas in the garden that we just leave for the wildlife all year round. We don’t over garden normally, so don’t feel that we need to not mow for one month of the year. Our front garden is basically set aside as a (small) patch of wilderness. It faces a lane, and the dog walkers must think we are very unkempt as we deliberately dump old branches there to rot down for the insects. It definitely works as, so far, we have seen a fair bit of wildlife in it. The most surprising is a muntjac deer (it really isn’t that big an area, but we’ve let it completely over grow, so it can hide nicely in here for a while), along with grass snakes, great crested newts, resident hedgehogs and too many beautiful birds to mention.

So you will hear our lawnmower in action during ‘no mow May’ – but well done for anyone who is taking part. Lawns are such a British construct – the perfect green grass, without a weed in sight. Our lawn is littered with moss and weeds and we’re happy with its imperfection. We do, however, know that for some gardeners, the dandelion is their worst enemy. My father for one. His stretch of bowling green perfection is kept weed free and he’s always looking at ways to get rid of dandelions.

The answer – when trying to avoid chemicals is to dig the dandelions out. The only way to do this effectively is to use a tool designed specifically for the job – a Dandelion Trowel (yes, they do exist!) You need a very long, thin trowel which you can use to circle around the dandelion to get all, or as much of, the long tap root out. As they can regenerate from fragments of root, you may need several attempts – but using a tool that’s right for the job means that it’s easier on these multiple attempts, but also doesn’t leave your lawn looking dreadful in the meantime. We recommend the Sneeboer dandelion trowel – which has a thin curved blade that is just over 20cm long. It’s sharp too, so it cuts through grass and the ground easily – but if you can leave it until after it rains, it will make the job easier too.

The thing about our tiny patch of wilderness is that it’s got its fair share of brambles, thistles and dandelions too. So we reckon that for the few dandelions that dad removes from his lawn, we have a few more here in the Tinker and Fix garden, so hopefully it all balances out naturally.

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