Where dandelions are out of control in a garden or are simply growing in the wrong place, control may be necessary. First, consider whether this can be done using non-chemical means such as digging out and where this method is are not feasible, chemical controls may need to be used.
The RHS believes that avoiding pests, diseases and weeds by good practice in cultivation methods, cultivar selection, garden hygiene and encouraging or introducing natural enemies, should be the first line of control. If chemical controls are used, they should be used only in a minimal and highly targeted manner.
Dandelions are difficult to control by cultural methods once established.
Try digging out isolated specimens, removing as much of the tap root as possible early in the spring. Dandelions can regenerate from fragments of root so it may require several attempts to completely remove a deep or awkwardly positioned plant. There are many specially designed tools to help with removal. Dig plants out as soon as they appear and don’t allow to flower and set seed.
Selective weedkillers in lawns:
Dandelions can be controlled with one or two applications of weedkillers containing 2,4-D, dicamba, clopyralid or fluroxypyr (Doff Lawn Weedkiller, Vitax LawnClear 2, Westland Resolva Lawn Weedkiller Extra, Roundup Lawn Ultra Weedkiller, Roundup Lawn Optima Weedkiller or Weedol Lawn Weedkiller). Lawn weedkillers based on mecoprop-P may check the growth of dandelions but not completely kill them.
Apply lawn weedkillers in summer after cutting off the flowering heads to prevent seeding, then re-spray leaves that re-grow 14 days after cutting back. Treat again in autumn if basal rosettes are present.
Do not add the first lawn clippings after application to the compost heap. The first clippings from products containing clopyralid (which is especially persistent including Vitax LawnClear2, Vitax LawnClear2 Feed & Weed and Weedol Lawn Weediller) should not be composted and the next three mowings should be used as a mulch only after composting for at least 9 months. To avoid possible contamination of compost, do not collect the clippings at all but mow frequently and allow the short clippings to remain on the surface of the lawn. These will quickly disperse to leave an acceptable finish.
New lawns can be easily damaged by lawn herbicides so avoid using them within six months of seeding or turfing. However, products containing fluroxypyr (Weedol Lawn Weedkiller) is claimed to be safe if applied two months after sowing or laying turf. The new lawn must be growing well.
Selective weedkillers in rough grassland:
Use a selective weedkiller which contains triclopyr (SBK Brushwood Killer) as this would leave the grass unharmed. However, other broad-leaved plants will be damaged (e.g. wildflowers) and so should only be used in grass where such action is acceptable
Non-selective weedkillers for spot treating in grass:
Glyphosate is a more effective treatment for established dandelions but is not selective and any spray coming into contact with grass around the dandelions would be killed or severely checked. Use a ready-to-use spray or a gel formulation (Roundup Gel) to spot treat individual weeds. Apply when growing strongly from midsummer onwards.
- Apply glyphosate as a spot treatment to individual plants or spray areas that have been cleared of cultivated plants
- Glyphosate is a non-selective weedkiller applied to the foliage, where it is translocated throughout the weed. Tougher formulations are worth trying (e.g. Roundup Ultra, SBM Job done Tough Weedkiller (soluble sachet only) or Ecofective Rootblast Super Strength Total Weedkiller)
- Being non-selective, it is essential to avoid spray drift onto neighbouring plants. It is important to have good leaf coverage so that as much chemical is absorbed as possible
- Sprays are most effective if applied from early June to mid-August
- As this weed is so persistent several applications may be necessary
To control dandelions growing in cracks between paving or on other hard surfaces, use a proprietary path, patio or drive weedkiller. See our page on controlling weeds on hard surfaces.
Inclusion of a weedkiller product does not indicate a recommendation or endorsement by the RHS. It is a list of products currently available to the home gardener.
Weedkillers for gardeners (Adobe Acrobat pdf document outlining weedkillers available to gardeners; see sections 1a, 1b, 1c and 4)
Chemicals: using spot and broad-scale weedkillers
Chemicals: using a sprayer
Chemicals: using safely and effectively
Weeds: non-chemical control