Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

The Ultimate Dandelion Weeder?

There are dozens of models of dandelion weeding tools, all of which can, in fact, pull out any weeds, not just dandelions.

20150824AThe highly sophisticated models with clasps, releases, rachets, etc., often called dandelion diggers or simply weeders, are very interesting in theory, but in practice often prove difficult to manipulate. They do work, some of them quite well, but in the time it takes to install them correctly, you would have already pulled three or four dandelions with an ordinary dandelion weeder.

20150824BThe classic dandelion weeder is a hand tool that looks a lot like a screwdriver, but with an extra-long rod and a V-shaped notch in the tip. The tip is pushed into the ground just at the base of the plant you want to pull out, then you press down on the handle and up the weed comes, like magic. There are no moving parts to twist or break and a good model will probably outlast its owner. This type of simple dandelion weeder works reasonably well, but there is better one.

20150824CIn my opinion, the best dandelion weeder is one with a fulcrum, a sort of bulge on the underside of the tool. So, when you insert the tip into the ground at the base of the plant, the fulcrum settles on the ground and, when you push down, it provides additional leverage. Weeds literally fly into the air with this little wonder! I’ve had mine for over 35 years now and it still works perfectly.

The Art of Pulling Dandelions

As long as you get at least 2 inches (5 cm) of root, the dandelion won’t grow back.

Pulling dandelions remains a skill you need to develop. If you place the head of the weeder at the base of the plant and apply just the right amount of force, the entire root will come out of the ground and the plant won’t grow back. If you get just the top of the plant, leaving most of the root in the soil, it will grow back and you’ll need to try again later, when it regenerates.

Even if the root does snap as you’re weeding, though, all is not necessarily lost: as long as you have about the top 2 inches (5 cm), its attempts to resprout from the little bit that is left will fail.

So practice a bit and you’ll see. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle: you may fail at first, but you can quickly become an efficient dandelion weeder if you just pay attention!

A Second Use for a Great Tool

20150824DA dandelion weeder (either the simple model or one with a fulcrum) is also the ideal tool for harvesting asparagus. Try it and see: it cuts asparagus shoots at exactly the right place!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

1 comment on “The Ultimate Dandelion Weeder?

  1. Pingback: The Best Time to Weed… – Laidback Gardener

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