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Dandelions

dandelion
 

Some Calgarians view dandelions or broadleaf weeds as a harmless plant, an important food source for bees, or a salad ingredient. Others may not share the same love for this hardy and fast growing plant.

What is the City doing about dandelions on City properties?

Under the Alberta Weed Control Act dandelions are not one of the 74 legislated weeds that the Province requires to be controlled. The City takes an integrated pest management approach to manage weeds (including dandelions) through various techniques to encourage healthy grass/turf growth

Dandelion control techniques

Dandelions are very hardy and adaptable and can grow even in poor soil conditions. The healthier the grass is, the more it can out-compete dandelions for water and nutrients. Turf management practices, like topdressing (spreading compost or loam over grass), or overseeding (adding extra seed to the grass) help encourage healthy turf growth. Naturalization, which involves taking mowed grass out of an area and planting grass and other species that are native to the Calgary region, can also help suppress dandelions. Because native plants naturally thrive in Calgary’s climate and soil conditions, they are able to out-compete dandelions for water and nutrients. Naturalized areas are not mowed.

Fiesta is a green alternative pesticide that contains iron chelate. It is applied directly to already growing plants, and the iron chelate kills dandelion leaves but doesn’t always kill the entire plant. We will also sometimes spray compost tea which provides added nutrients directly to turf. Another technique we use is applying Soil Food Web, a method of adding nutrients and microorganisms to the soil which then helps grass outcompete weeds.

On occasion we will use herbicides as one tool in the attempt to control weed populations. When herbicides are used it will likely be on high-use sites such as sports fields where a high density of weeds can cause safety issues. This is done in conjunction with other techniques such as aerating and fertilizing. In addition to spraying high-use sports fields we will spray parks on a rotation of once every five years to help control weeds.

You can find out when herbicide is being applied in your community by visiting the pesticide and herbicide page. We do not use herbicides for cosmetic purposes.

What do I do about dandelions on my property?

Calgary bylaws do not prohibit dandelions on private property. However, grass and other herbaceous plants must be kept shorter than 6 inches.

Some people prefer to keep their lawns dandelion-free. Techniques to do that without using herbicides include:

  • Routinely pull broadleaf weeds out by their roots, especially before they go to seed.
  • Keep your grass at least 3 inches long so it shades its own roots from the scorching sun, chokes out pesky weeds and holds moisture better, reducing watering needs.
  • Practice good turf management to keep your grass healthy.

More tips for healthy yards.