You know spring has arrived when you start seeing the yellow flowers of dandelions emerging throughout the neighborhood. This might be a nice sight for some, but for the lawn care purists, these undesirable weeds must go.
The following is our list of best dandelion killers. These are the best options for DIY homeowners, particularly with cool-season grasses, to get rid of dandelions. I have at least two of these herbicides on-hand throughout the year for my own use. They contain the same active ingredients (AI) as those broadleaf weed killers that the pros use, and only require a hand-pump sprayer or backpack sprayer to apply (+ PPE).
These kill broadleaf weeds and grassy weeds but do not harm your good cool-season grasses. I also selected these weed killers not only because they work the best, but they can also be mixed to create a solid 1-2-punch at killing dandelions and other weeds – from crabgrass and dandelions to creeping charlie and clover.
- Speedzone + Tenacity
- Drive XLR8 (Quinclorac) + TZone
TZone tops our charts as the best dandelion killer. In addition to the active ingredients 2,4-D, Dicamba, and Triclopyr, it contains sulfentrazone for a powerful 4-way weed killer. Sulfentrazone combos provide extremely fast and effective results in killing weeds, and control against many tough broadleaf weeds, including dandelion, clover, nutsedge, and spurge. Mixed with quinclorac (below), makes the perfect weed killer.
- Does not require a separate non-ionic surfactant
- Kills dandelions and other tough broadleaf weeds
- Rainfast within 3 hours after the application has dried
- Not available for sale in all states – restricted to licensed applicators
TZone mix rates:
- Cool-season grasses: Mix 1.2 – 1.5 oz. per gallon of water (approx. 1,000 sq. ft. coverage)
- Warm-season grasses: Mix 0.73 – 0.83 oz. per gallon of water (approx. 1,000 sq. ft. coverage)
- A second application can be applied after 21-30 days
- No lawn mowing two days before or 2 days after applying this broadleaf weed killer
Speedzone EW broadleaf weed killer is a wildly popular weed killer and ranks second on our best dandelion killer list with good reason. It is a terrific 4-way selective herbicide that is taken up through leaf tissue and roots. In addition to 2,4-D, Mecoprop-p, and Dicamba, Speedzone also contains carfentrazone for quick visible results on ~100 grassy and broadleaf weeds, making it one of the best dandelion killers. A commonly-used all-around broadleaf weed killer for lawns.
- Visible results within hours of application
- Complete weed control in as little as 7 days
- Not safe for all warm-season grasses
Speedzone EW mixing rates:
- Mix 1.1 – 1.8 oz. in up to 5 gallons of water
Also available in smaller 20 oz. bottle with the same AI.
Tenacity Herbicide has Mesotrione as its Active Ingredient (AI). This cutting-edge product can be used as both a selective post-emergent weed killer and pre-emergent herbicide. Tenacity controls over 40 grassy and broadleafs weeds including dandelions. Mesotrione kills weeds by inhibiting photosynthesis in the targeted plants. This mode of action acts like sunblock – stopping weed growth and leaving the plant looking bleached white as they die off.
- Only need a small amount per gallon (1/2 teaspoon)
- Can be used as a pre-emergent at the time of seeding or overseeding
- Requires a non-ionic surfactant (NIS) adjuvant for best results
Tenacity mix rate:
- 1/2 teaspoon per gallon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of NIS
Drive XLR8 is an extremely powerful weed killer and another good option for a dandelion killer. The active ingredient (AI) in Drive XLR8 weed killer is quinclorac – which is arguably the best crabgrass killer. However, it is also labeled for broadleaf weeds including dandelions and other weeds. So if you have this on-hand for crabgrass, apply with confidence as a dandelion killer, too.
It’s our No. 1 best crabgrass killer and can also be tank-mixed with TZone (above) for the ultimate herbicide combo for killing weeds.
- Provides faster and more effective weed control than generic quinclorac
- Is rainfast in an hour after the application has dried
- Works best when mixed with a methylated seed oil (MSO)
- Cannot be used on: St. Augustine, Centipede, Bahiagrass, Bentgrass or Dichondra
Drive XLR8 mix rates:
- 1.45 fl oz per gallon of water (per 1,000 sq. ft.)
- Mix 0.55 oz. of MSO to increase the effectiveness
Ortho Weed B Gon made our list for its convenience. The ready-to-use (RTU) concentration has a hose-end sprayer already included. So you simply attach a garden hose to the bottle, turn the water and dial to ON, and spray. A great multipurpose weed killer that is often found at local hardware and big box stores.
- One quart (32 oz.) treats 8,000 – 16,000 total sq ft
- Labeled for over 250 weeds
- Contains 2,4-D, Dicamba, and MCPP-P
- Dragging the garden hose around can be an inconvenience
Weed Killer Application
As a general rule and best application practices: Do not mow your lawn two days before and two days after weed killer application. The treatment application should be done at a time when there is no rainfall forecast for at least 24 hours
Postemergence broadleaf herbicides include the phenoxy herbicides (2,4-D, 2,4-DP/dichlorprop, MCPA, MCPP/mecoprop), carfentrazone, clopyralid, dicamba, fluroxapyr, quinclorac, penoxsulam, pyraflufen-ethyl, sulfentrazone and triclopyr.
If you use a 4 Step program, Step 2 is the weed and feed that targets dandelions. Scotts Turf Builder Weed And Feed is a great granular weed killer combo option that can kill dandelions. You can also Espoma Organic Weed Preventer.
Dandelion Quick Facts
- A perennial broadleaf weed
- Considered a taller broadleaf weed
- Branches grow from a single taproot
- Leaves and stems contain a milky white fluid
- Flowers are yellow and turn into fluffy white balls
- Spade-shaped leaf tips and point towards the ground
- Seeds mostly spread via the wind
- Found throughout northern and southern lawns
- Kill dandelions before they seed to prevent a secondary crop next year
- Controlled with most selective broadleaf weed herbicides
Apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer to your turf. Low nitrogen soils can lead to more dandelion weeds in your lawn due to less competition from desirable turfgrass species. At the first signs of dandelion flowers appearing in your turf, mow frequently to help to reduce further infestations. Dandelion plants can be removed by hand, provided that the entire taproot is also removed.
Don’t be fooled by other sites that recommend corn gluten meal and pre-emergent herbicides to kill dandelions. While pre-emergents can prevent new weed seeds – including dandelion and other broadleaf weeds – they will not control emerged weeds of those or other plants. Since dandelions are annual weeds, only a selective weed killer will control established dandelions and other weeds.
Others may also recommend non-selective weed killers. While these are a surefire dandelion killer, they are also a grass killer of your good turf. So if you’re looking for a dandelion killer and weed killer that won’t warm your established lawn, then those will do you no good.
Dandelion Killer FAQs
What do professionals use to kill dandelions?
Selective herbicides that target broadleaf weeds like TZone and Speedzone. The weed killer and dandelion killer will contain a 2-way, 3-way, or 4-way combination of: 2,4-D, carfentrazone, clopyralid, dicamba, fluroxapyr, quinclorac, penoxsulam, pyraflufen-ethyl, sulfentrazone, and triclopyr.
What will kill dandelions but not grass?
Most broad-spectrum selective herbicides will kill dandelions without affecting your good turf. However, be sure to read the dandelion killer spray labels as they may affect some warm-season grasses.
What kills dandelions permanently?
Selective weed killers like Tenacity, TZone, and Speedzone are great at killing dandelions. These liquid herbicides are better options than weed and feed fertilizers. Once eradicated, be sure to use a pre-emergent in the spring to help prevent and control dandelions.