Dandelions, identified by their bright yellow blooms and fluffy seedheads, are a well-known plant in Calgary.
Based on citizen feedback, we know dandelions are a topic that Calgarians have mixed opinions on:
- A third of Calgarians see dandelions as a harmless plant that should not be chemically controlled;
- Another third see dandelions as a weed that should be sprayed with herbicides;
- The remaining third of Calgarians aren’t overly concerned about whether dandelions are controlled with herbicides or not.
The City and dandelions
Dandelions are not one of the 74 legislated weeds that the Province requires to be controlled.
That being said, we treat dandelions differently based on location:
- Sports fields: We control the growth of all weeds, including dandelions. This is done for safety concerns, as uneven turf from weeds can create hazards for users.
- Meridians, boulevards and other City green areas: We do not control growth of dandelions in areas beside roadways, ditches, utility right-of-ways.
- City parks and natural areas: We practice some level of dandelion control in manicured parks, and spray parks on a rotation every five years to control weeds. Natural or naturalized areas do not have dandelion control methods applied.
Dandelion control techniques
The City does not use herbicides for cosmetic purposes.
Dandelions are hardy and grow even in poor soil conditions. The good news is that the healthier the grass is, the fewer dandelions can grow.
Some of the dandelion control/reduction techniques The City uses are:
- Turf management practices:
- topdressing (spreading compost or loam over grass)
- overseeding (adding extra seed to the grass)
- Removal of mowed grass, and replacing it with plants native to Calgary. Native plants naturally thrive in Calgary’s climate and soil conditions, and are able to out-compete dandelions.
- Fiesta application:
- a green “alternative pesticide” that kills dandelion leaves.
- Compost tea:
- provides added nutrients directly to turf.
- Soil Food Web application:
- a method of adding nutrients and microorganisms which helps grass outcompete weeds.
- Herbicides are used occasionally, with other techniques such as aerating and fertilizing.
Dandelions on your 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:
- 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 sun, chokes out unwanted plants and holds moisture better.
- Practice good turf management to keep your grass healthy.
- Work with your neighbours to maintain healthy turf in your community. More tips for healthy yards.