Are dandelions good for the soil?
Love them or hate them, dandelions have grown to be a part of the landscape here.
They were introduced to North America from Europe for their impressive medicinal properties, but they don't stop there.
Have you ever noticed where dandelions tend to thrive most? Ditches, fields, parks, lawns...
All places where the soil has been disturbed for one reason or another.
This field was row cropped with traditional monocrops for years, depleting a lot of the soil's nutrients and creating a lot of compaction in the soil.
We've been caring for it over the last few years, seeding cover crops to make hay and help regenerate the landscape.
The abundance of dandelions that are now allowed to take root in these fields is evidence of the healing that needs to be done here.
Those deep tap roots on the dandelion that make them so pesky to remove from the lawn, is what helps them bring essential nutrients like calcium from deep in the soil up to the surface so that other plants with shallow roots (like grass) can also use it.
Those roots also help break up compaction and aerate the soil so air and water can infiltrate the ground and support the microbial community there, too, further supporting other plants (like grass).
In the few years time alone that we've taken the field above out of row crops, the soil health has greatly improved and each year the dandelion count seems to decrease as other plants are able to out-compete them with the improved soil conditions.
This year, we'll be adding the secret ingredient to really bringing this soil back to life - cattle!
With some prescribed managed grazing after a few years of cover crops and rest, this field should really get the boost it needs to help restore its health and function.
So think twice before deeming that dandelion a weed - it's doing more good for your lawn then you may realize. :)