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 their 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 considered to be a weed, so there are no provincial requirements to control dandelions. The City takes an integrated pest management approach to manage weeds (including dandelions) through various techniques to encourage healthy grass/turf growth.
During the 2016 season, The City will be piloting several alternative dandelion management techniques. The pilots will help us understand what techniques are effective, and get a better idea of the cost and resources that each would need if they were used on a larger scale. The findings will be part of a report to City Council in October 2016.
2016 Dandelion Control Pilot Techniques for City Property
Turf management practices, like topdressing (spreading compost or loam over grass), or overseeding (adding extra seed to the grass) help encourage healthy turf growth
How it works: 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.
Fiesta is a green alternative pesticide that contains iron chelate.
How it works: It is applied directly to already growing plants. The iron chelate kills dandelion leaves.
Compost Tea and Soil Food Web
Compost tea is compost applied by spraying. It provides added nutrients directly to grass. Soil Food Web is a method of adding nutrients to the soil, which then supports healthy grass.
How it works: Dandelions are very hardy and adaptable and can grow even in poor soil conditions. The better conditions are for grass, the more it can out-compete dandelions for water and nutrients.
Naturalization means taking mowed grass out of an area and planting grass and other species that are native to the Calgary region. Naturalized areas are not mowed.
How it works: Native plants can naturally thrive in Calgary’s climate and soil conditions. Because they grow so well, they are able to out-compete dandelions for water and nutrients.
Salt tolerant grasses
Salt tolerant grasses are varieties of grass that can grow well even in salty conditions like those found along roadways.
How it works: When there is a lot of salt in the soil, it is hard for many varieties of grass to grow well. As a result, hardier dandelions and other weeds are able to flourish. If we can find a variety of grass that can grow even when salt is present, it may be better able to out-compete the weeds.
In 2016, while these pilots are underway, The City will also be increasing our mowing during the peak dandelion season. Though this will not reduce the number of dandelion plants, it will keep the stems shorter and help enhance the appearance of City parks, boulevards and green spaces.
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
More tips for healthy yards.