Spring is here, and that means lawn chores. “Grass is a weed,” my wife and I tell each other. But with 3/5 of an acre, much of it lawn, we have a lot of grass to care for.

Aside from mowing, one of my first tasks every year is weed control. I’m not anal-retentive about this — though I used to be — but I do like to eliminate most of the worst offenders. Dandelions are my nemesis.

A dandelion may look pretty, but it's really a vile fiend.

Many of my friends use Roundup to control weeds in their lawns. I use a weedpopper. People think I’m crazy, but I love the thing. Here’s why:

  • It’s cheap. Mine cost me something like $5 a decade ago. It’s still in excellent condition. How much does Roundup cost?
  • It’s quick. It takes no more time to remove a dandelion with my weedpopper than it does to spray it with an herbicide.
  • There’s no setup. When you spray weeds, you’ve got to get your equipment out and fill the tank. When you’ve finished, you need to rinse everything. With my weedpopper, I pick it up and go.
  • It’s safe. Here’s the material safety data sheet for Roundup (PDF). I love the “decrease in survival” for the rats. Translation: it kills them. (See Angie’s comment below.) I wouldn’t let a four-year-old play with a weedpopper, but it’s quite safe for adult use.
  • It’s effective. It takes a couple days for weeds sprayed with Roundup to shrivel and die (along with the grass around them). The weedpopper targets the weed precisely and removes it immediately.
  • It provides exercise. Yes, to use a weedpopper, you need to be able to crouch and stand, crouch and stand. It’s not a lot of exercise, but it’s more than I’d get carrying a sprayer.
  • The sense of satisfaction. When I pop a dandelion from the ground, it makes a pleasing ripping noise. I then toss the weed into the bucket with its mates. It’s a dandelion graveyard.

A weedpopper isn’t for everyone, but I do think it’s an excellent choice for those with small lawns. (And, obviously, I use it on my very large lawn.) I have a friend who is anal-retentive about his lawn — it’s a thing of beauty. He uses a sprayer. I gave him a weedpopper for his birthday last year thinking it might be handy for spot weeding, but he won’t use it.

“It puts divots in my lawn,” he says. I’ve been using a weedpopper for fifteen years (this is my second one), and have never been bothered by unusual divots. But if these might bother you, then a weedpopper isn’t a good choice. For everyone else, it’s a cheap and useful tool.