The battle is on but it doesn’t have to be horrific–especially if you take a different tactic than the usual OBLITERATE THEM ALL.
Here are some timely reasons for putting down the pesticides and making dandelions our co-conspirators in a great garden.
1. THEY CAN TELL YOU HIDDEN SECRETS: As Ralph Waldo Emerson pointed out, a weed is a “plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered”. When it comes to dandelions, probably one of their best virtues is that they are excellent indicator weeds. If you see them growing in your garden, that’s a sign that you most likely have acidic or low lime soil. As well, you probably have heavy, clay soil. (For more reading on the role weeds in general can play in gardening, I recommend Canadian Organic Growers‘ info-packed but fast read “Weeds: Don’t Shoot The Messenger (Not Until You Understand The Message).
2. THEY CAN COME BACK IN ANOTHER LIFE(FORM): You can use weeds, including dandelions, as naturally occurring green manure. Dig them out before they go to seed, then tuck them under a shrub or toss them towards the back of a garden bed and let Mother Nature recycle them. They’ll deliver lots of good nutrition back into the soil (see Point #3).
3. THEY LEAVE THE DIRT BETTER THAN IT WAS BEFORE THEY ARRIVED: Dandelions can actually improve the soil by accessing hard-to-reach nutrients such as calcium deep down in the soil and cycling them up with their long tap roots (which dandelions are famous for).
4. THEY’RE ALL ABOUT THE FLOW: The long tap roots of dandelions also help to break up hard pan which can facilitate water movement in the soil.
5. THEY’RE EVEN POPULAR WITH THE LADIES: Ladybugs love dandelions because the weeds provide early spring pollen. In a study, plots with dandelions had more ladybugs and fewer pest aphids (a favourite ladybug snack) than those plots that were dandelion-free. In fact, this weed alone “plays a part in the ecology of 93 different insect species” according to Toronto and Region Conservation.
So if you’re facing a sea of dandelions on your lawn, think about leaving a few behind rather than getting rid of them all. They’re handier than you think.