Edmonton

A dandelion defence: City crews work to behead banner crop of yellow weeds

Edmonton is dealing with a dandelion invasion after an especially snowy winter insulated the stubborn yellow weeds from the cold.

'It is a sea of yellow right now and we're working to tackle it as best we can'

City crews are out tackling the perennial dandelion problem with a combination of lawn mowers and herbicides. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

Edmonton is dealing with a dandelion invasion after an especially snowy winter insulated the stubborn yellow weeds from the cold.

It's shaping up to be a banner year for the infamously hardy blooms, said Valerie Dacyk, a supervisor for the city's integrated pest management program.

"We are seeing a great influx of dandelions this season," Dacyk said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"The heavy snow cover we had this winter, it allowed for less winter kill-off than we normally would have so we're seeing a greater amount of live and blooming ones currently.

"The snow cover was a definite benefit to them."

'A sea of yellow'

City crews have been out in droves attempting to chop the dandelions down, Dacyk said.

An extra round of mowing is done across all the city's green spaces during the plant's peak growing season.

The city began its annual attack on the pesky perennials earlier this month when the weeds began sprouting up all over the city.

Iron chelate herbicide is also being applied to sports fields. The herbicide will be sprayed on particularly infested city green spaces up to four times a year, Dacyk said.

Fields should be avoided during spraying, but they are safe to use when dry — between 30 minutes and three hours after application, depending on the weather.

Signs will be posted during applications. The sprayed weeds will turn a reddish brown following application but are safe to touch.

The city began applying the alternative herbicide last summer after council approved a new $3 million turf maintenance program to kill the weeds. 

"It's considered a non-conventional herbicide which is more environmentally friendly," Dacyk said.

"It has low odour and dries very quickly and presents zero risk to anyone coming into contact with it.

"We are in a pilot year for it. We are seeing good results so far but we haven't made any firm conclusions because we haven't seen a full year run of it yet."

Spraying and mowing will be prioritized based on the density of weeds.  

City bylaws do not prohibit dandelions on private property but Edmontonians frustrated with a weed infestation on city property can file a complaint with 311, Dacyk said.

"The city's main priority when it comes to dandelions is to mow them before they go to seed," Dacyk said.

"We appreciate everyone's patience because it is a sea of yellow right now and we're working to tackle it as best we can."

City crews are out tackling the perennial dandelion problem with a combination of lawn mowers and herbicides. (Wallis Snowdon/CBC)

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