Over the course of every summer, we spend hours trying to kill dandelions in our yard. It can feel relentless. But since we have two little boys who love to roll around out there, we’re trying to battle the dandelions in a kid-safe way. Toxic to weeds, but non-toxic to us. You know?
Now, I realize there are products marketed as non-toxic to kids and pets, but I’m just not comfortable using them. Not judging anyone who does, but this post is about alternatives.
Three Kid-Safe Ways to Kill Dandelions
From my research, and trial and error, I’ve tried these three “safe” methods to kill dandelions:
1. Dandelion weeding tool (Yes, it exists!)
3. Boiling water
The dandelion weeding tool can be incredibly effective, but you have to pull out the entire tap root. If you leave even a fraction of the root, the plant will come back. (If only tomatoes could do this…) For me, this works best on younger plants in wet soil. Otherwise, it’s really just a lot of work for more frustration down the road. I keep using it, of course, because I keep thinking I’m going to hit the jackpot on the next one I try… Pulling out the entire tap root is so satisfying! I’ve tried both the long- and short-handled versions, and I prefer a tall one like this for more leverage.
Exhibit A: What not to do. After so carefully using the tool, I broke the tap root. I guess I’ll be seeing this guy again.
Next up, vinegar can kill dandelions fairly well. Just spray it on the leaves (or pour it on the whole thing?). It’s also inexpensive, especially if you buy the giant Costco jug of white vinegar. The drawback is that you’ll end up killing anything else around it. Like grass.
My favorite method is to pour boiling water on dandelions. It’s a little tedious to keep boiling water and making trips inside and out, but it works! If you don’t already have one, I recommend investing in an electric teakettle for this. I can’t imagine how else I would easily and safely transport boiling water around to pour on plants.
Once you pour the water on the weeds, they will shrivel up and die. Sometimes I still attempt to pull them out with the dandelion weeding tool (Why? Because I’m addicted, see above). If the stems are wilted, this won’t really work.
Have you tried any of these methods? Give me a shout if you’ve got another non-toxic idea to try. I always have plenty of dandelions on hand!
To read more about our landscaping projects and adventures in curb appeal, check out this post on Five Easy Drought-Resistant Perennials.
As a kid, a million years ago, we had only the tool to use. There was no internet to tell me about boiling water and my mother was perfectly happy to send me out early in the morning with a “ weed digger”. So that is my only experience with removing dandelions from the lawn. However, my Mom did cook up the greens, which she thought were delicious, and we all ate them. Back then, they were cheap and convenient. Today, they are haute cuisine.
As it turns out, I’ve learned that nothing really works until you kill or remove every inch of the root. I’ll keep digging, but it’s a losing battle!