To the majority of Americans, dandelions are annoying little weeds that are able to wreck weeks of hard work in just a couple of days. Even the most extensive grass seed coverage and most drought resistant grass species can be conquered by a sea of dandelions, seemingly overnight. But there’s actually something really positive about seeing dandelions growing in your yard.
It used to be fairly common for homeowners to use harsh chemicals that would eradicate weeds, like dandelions, without harming current grass and without stunting the growth of new grass seeds.
It’s easy to assume that a chemical spray to kill dandelions and other weeds would also harm the natural grass, but there’s actually a huge variety of pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers available these days that can target certain plants without harming others.
Many of the same chemicals used in harsh pesticides on food crops are also used for these synthetic herbicides, and they present the same dangers to a person’s health as a conventional chemical pesticide would present. As more of these chemical sprays become available and affordable, more Americans are tempted to use them. According to the National Garde+ning Association, the number of Americans using chemicals on their lawns grew from five million in 2004 to 12 million in 2008. It comes as no surprise that when the CDC conducted a study on the presence of pesticides in Americans’ bodies, researchers found traces of 29 out of the 44 most common pesticides.
Clearly, even though it’s well known that these chemicals can be very harmful for people and animals alike, Americans still want to have the greenest lawn on the block — even if that means using chemicals to get it.
But the growth of dandelions should be a welcoming sight, considering that the easiest way to spot a yard that’s treated with harsh chemicals is to look for a yard that’s dandelion-free. Additionally, dandelions may also provide a layer of protection against small insects that tend to attack good grass seed as it grows.
And finally, as long as you don’t allow dandelions to take over your yard completely, the deep roots of dandelions may actually be helpful for anyone using grass seed in their yard, because these roots draw up minerals and nutrients below the ground’s surface that baby grass shoots are unable to reach. A moderate amount of dandelions may actually help balance out the minerals and acidity of a yard, allowing natural grass to become even healthier.
But if you still can’t stand the sight of so many yellow dots in your yard, it’s perfectly okay to do some weeding by hand — just make sure that you stay away from those chemical sprays!