How to Remove a Dandelion's Tap Root


Nothing sets a gardener's blood racing quite like the sight of dandelions popping up in the midst of a well-manicured garden bed. Without quick action, these brilliant yellow blooms turn to seed heads, ready to scatter in the wind and deposit seeds in other parts of the garden. Herbicides pose a risk to delicate neighboring flowers and cutting the tops simply encourages rapid regrowth that is bigger and thicker than before. To rid your garden of dandelions, remove the large taproots from the soil.

Step 1

Dig dandelions early in the spring, or after a heavy rain when the soil is wet. Use a spade or garden fork to dig deeply beneath the dandelion leaves. A large, white taproot extends into the soil to up 18 inches. If this root is broken or cut while removing, the existing root continues to thrive and will send up new leaves.

Step 2

Tug on the root to pull it free from the soil. Roots often pull free of loose, wet soil with moderate effort. If it resists your efforts, more digging is needed.

Step 3

Remove soil around the base of the plant to expose the root. Push the blade of the spade deeply into the soil approximately 2 to 4 inches from the root. Repeat on all sides of the root and try pulling again.

Step 4

Check that the entire root has been pulled free of the soil. The root tapers much like a carrot and has small hair roots on the end. If the end appears broken or blunt, dig into the soil to remove the end of the root.

Step 5

Discard any roots, root sections or other plant parts in an area away from the garden as they will quickly take root and begin to grow if left on top of the soil.

Step 6

Fill in the hole with fresh soil and firm down with your foot.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never leave old dandelion blooms lying near the garden. These often continue to mature, going to seed within a few days and scattering in the wind.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden spade/fork


  • Utah State University Extension: Dandelions - Take a Bite Out of Lion's Teeth
  • University of California Pest Management Program: Dandelion Management Guidelines

Who Can Help

  • The Professor's House: How to Kill Dandelions
Keywords: dig dandelion roots, remove dandelion roots, kill dandelion roots

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.