Edmonton takes 'aggressive' approach to killing dandelions this year

The city is tackling the pesky, perennial dandelion problem earlier this year and has already started treating nearly 1,500 sports fields.

City council approved $3 million for herbicides and mowing this spring

City has started applying the herbicide iron chelate and will mow sports fields and parks until July 1. (John Robertson/CBC)

The city is tackling the pesky, perennial dandelion problem earlier this year, and has already started treating the first of nearly 1,500 sports fields.

In a release Thursday, the city said it has started applying iron chelate on up to 20 fields a day.

The first round is expected to be completed in two to three weeks.

The city didn't start its dandelion program until late June last year.

Travis Kennedy, the general supervisor of open space operations, said the city is addressing dandelions "more aggressively and earlier in the season," to ensure clear open spaces.

Dandelions tend to proliferate in May and June.

"We've taken significant steps to strengthen our turf maintenance program this year," Kennedy said in a release.

That includes a combination of mowing and distributing iron chelate, a herbicide that "dries quickly, does not have a strong odour, does not leave chemical residue," the city said.

Last year, city council approved $3 million to control dandelions this spring, using a combination of herbicides and mowing.

Council had the option of increasing the number of mowing cycles for $2 million.

The decision to use herbicides has been controversial. City council debated the pros and cons last year, and given other, more potent, choices, iron chelate was deemed the lower-risk treatment.

The city said it takes between 30 minutes and three hours for fields to dry after the herbicide is applied, and people should avoid the fields during this time.

Treated weeds turn a dark red-black colour but are safe to touch. The city will post signs to identify which fields are being sprayed and when.

The city is mowing parks weekly from now until July 1, they said, before dandelions go to seed.

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