Don’t Hate The Dandelions

“A Who’s Who of pesticides is therefore of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones – we had better know something about their nature and their power.”

~ Rachel Carson

After months of winter hibernation, it is with profound joy and enthusiasm that we, Canadians, finally get to emerge from our dens to be welcomed by the fresh spring air and glorious sunshine. We are also, however, greeted by something else… a sea of bright yellow, fragrant flowers that scatter across our landscape.

To many lawn owners who aspire to achieve the perfect, manicured green lawn, they will let nothing stand between them especially what they consider to be annoying golden, allergy-inducing, “pesky weeds.” Many hate these incredibly important and beneficial yet underappreciated plants, which are seen as pests and they will use any means of chemical warfare to eradicate them – including napalm, if they could.

So what are these yellow critters so despised by lawn enthusiasts that they are willing to spend hundreds of dollars to poison the land and themselves to get rid of?

It’s a little plant called the dandelion.

As a child, I remember making wishes with their fuzzy heads and running merrily through open fields feeling the yellow leaves tickling my feet. Now, as a lawn owner, I’ve been told on countless occasions that these pests must be managed before they take over our lawns. Fanatic lawn enthusiasts treat dandelions like they are the second coming of Satan. But that doesn’t mean we should throw dangerous chemicals on our grass just for the allure of having a green, weed-free lawn, does it?

Well, in April 2009, it became illegal to sell or apply pesticides for cosmetic lawn care in Ontario, Canada. There are still a few exceptions but for the most part, banning the right to douse copious amounts of toxic pesticides that harm people, pets and ecosystems just for cosmetic reasons was an important big step to protecting our health and particularly the health of children.

The full scope of the pesticide ban is described on the News Ontario website.

Why Such Hatred For This Once Revered Plant?

First, people hold on to this crazy, powerful myth of striving to have the perfect, tame, green lawn. Dandelions challenge that myth. It challenges the idea that we can tame nature. Second, we lack the knowledge about the role of the dandelion and how it is beneficial to the land, the insects and ourselves. Third, seeing the dandelion as a “weed” generates the notion that they are pests, unwanted plants that plague humanity.

When we think of it, lawns are unnatural. It’s our way of trying to put nature in an unnatural state that requires fossil fuels and many human hours of labour to maintain.

Role of the Dandelion

The dandelion’s role in the ecosystem is a restorative plant. It attempts to restore the lawn to a more natural state, to heal the damage that has been done. It does this in at least three ways:

1. Rejuvenate the nutrients in the soil

Dandelions help damaged soil to bring nutrients from deep below the soil, to pull in nutrients from the air into the soil and build soil health.

2. Reduce soil compaction

The deep taproots of dandelions help break up compacted soil, helping many plants establish root systems.

3. Prevent soil erosion

The carpet of dandelions along with their deep taproots helps prevent soil erosion and the loss of nutrients.

The next time you see lawns covered by a sea of dandelions, appreciate that they are attempting to heal the soil so that other plants can grow.

Other Benefits

After a long, cold winter, hungry insects including bees depend on dandelions for survival. As one of their earliest sources of nectar and pollen, dandelions offer them protein and nourishment to help bees fly back to their hive and raise their young. Bees are an amazing part of our ecosystems. They are important pollinators and without bees, humans wouldn’t survive more than 4 years. By mowing a lawn of fully bloomed dandelions, we risk killing thousands of bees. Considering their plight, anything we can do to help their survival, such as letting dandelions grow and not mow down that field or lawn of dandelions is beneficial.

Dandelion Uses:

As Food and Drink

Every part of the dandelion is edible and safe to eat (so long as it hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides) with amazing health benefits!

Medicinal and Health Benefits

Diuretic – helps to increase urine output and rid your body of excess fluids and toxins.

Helps Upset Stomach – both dried and fresh dandelions gently help heal upset stomach and improve digestion.

Lowers Cholesterol Levels – studies have shown that dandelions can help reduce bad cholesterol in the blood while raising good cholesterol.¹

Protects Bones – Calcium is an important mineral that strengthens bones and teeth and is used for nerve transmission, blood clotting, hormone secretion and muscle contraction. Dandelions contain 10 percent of your daily calcium value.

Cleanses the Liver – Dandelions help the liver break down fatty acids, filter and detoxify our blood more efficiently. They keep the liver working properly.

Fights Skin Infections – the milky white sap of a dandelion stem is highly alkaline and helps relieve itching or irritation from eczema, ringworm, psoriasis and other skin infections.

Nutritional Powerhouses – dandelions are excellent sources of magnesium, folic acid, fiber, zinc, protein, manganese, calcium, iron, antioxidants and a multitude of vitamins including vitamins A & K (1/2 a cup of dandelion greens has more vitamins than the average multivitamin!).

Foods You Can Make With Dandelions

1. Dandelion Wine. Great for the liver!

DIY Natural

Ricardo Cuisine

2. Dandelion Tea. Used for a variety of medicinal purposes including as a mild diuretic and appetite stimulant


3. Dandelion Root Coffee. Great substitute without the caffeine

Eat Weeds

4. Dandelion Greens in Salads. Being a member of the lettuce family, it’s no wonder they make great salads!

Genius Kitchen

5. Dandelion Bread. Bet you’ve never tasted bread this good before!

World of Weeks

More amazing dandelion recipes:

Morning Chores

All Recipes

The Prairie Homestead

Controlling Dandelions

  • Never cut grass shorter than 5 cm. Scalping your grass lets in more light for dandelions to grow.
  • Don’t use fertilizers since dandelions are better at sucking them up than the grass. Instead, encourage plants like clovers to grow in the lawn providing natural sources of nitrogen fertilizer.
  • Hand Digging – this may be the most time consuming but it’s also the most effective way of removing dandelions. I remember spending hours with a weed poker, bucket and kneepads every spring. You must remove the entire taproot and you may have to do this a few rounds to get rid of the dandelions.
  • Spray the roots with vinegar. Yes, this takes time but it’s so much healthier than using toxic chemicals to kill the dandelion.
  • If you really hate the environment and everything living thing in it, then go ahead and use chemicals to control dandelions, just do it properly! And realize that just because the pesticide isn’t banned, doesn’t mean it’s still healthy for the ecosystem and us. Click here for a complete list of permitted pesticides you can use on your lawn in Ontario.

Dandelions Are Here To Stay

With their tremendous health benefits and healing properties, we need to shift our consciousness and start viewing the dandelion as allies, not enemies. We need to understand their importance in our ecosystem and in our own lives. We need to shift to more sustainable practices and change our relationship with the land and stop abusing it. Once we do this, we will understand and see the dandelion as the magical, incredible plant that it is.



¹Choi, Ung-Kyu, et al. “Hypolipidemic and Antioxidant Effects of Dandelion (Taraxacum Officinale) Root and Leaf on Cholesterol-Fed Rabbits.” Advances in Pediatrics., U.S. National Library of Medicine, Jan. 2010,