Yes, weeds can be a bummer, but many gardeners don’t know there are many more benefits of weeds than downsides.
Besides, they’re fairly easily controlled in the garden with a thick mulch.
The lawn is definitely trickier.
I had one client who’s front lawn had more weeds than grass!
I knew it would take years for me to balance the soil to the point where the grass won the battle, so I was out there every couple of weeks pulling the weeds by hand.
She was a nice client, but I knew she wasn’t thrilled with the weeds, and I don’t blame her, but it’s important to understand why the weeds are there.
Weeds are helpful plants for your organic garden because each beneficial weed thrives in a specific imbalanced soil condition and works to bring the soil back into balance.
So if you’ve heard that healthy soil grows weeds just as well as the plants you’re trying to grow, it’s a myth.
If the weeds are doing better than your lawn or garden plants, it’s because the soil isn’t optimally healthy and the weeds have set up shop to fix that.
That’s what was happening with my client’s lawn, so my long-term goal was to help fix the soil in order to speed up the process.
But if time didn’t matter, I could have let the weeds take care of it.
So, what are the benefits of weeds?
- Some lawn and garden weeds bring nutrients and water up from deep in the soil and down from the air, and subsequently make them available to microbes and plants.
- Some weeds break up hardpans and compaction and control erosion.
- Another benefit of weeds is that they increase the organic matter content of the soil as they continually grow and die. That’s one reason to let them cycle through the lawn.
- Garden weeds also act as our own diagnostic tool by telling us a tremendous amount about the nutritional balance of our soil through their presence and growth habit.
- They also fix nutritional imbalances, vastly improving soils, perhaps in as little as a couple of years, but often decades or centuries.
- One of my favorite benefits of weeds is that they provide homes and food for microbes and animals. (If you get a chance, check out the documentary Microcosms. It’s a very close-up account of insects’ lives on plants in meadows and ponds, beautiful!)
That’s just a few things weeds do in the lawn and garden. Having said this, if you simply can’t live with them on the lawn, which I understand, it is possible to control most of them and still have a happy garden.
That involves creating a healthy, balanced soil with strong turf plants so that the weeds can’t thrive.
But you can also see why the benefits of weeds make them good to keep around. Besides, many of them can be added to salads for a healthy boost.
Do you have any especially persistent weeds? Let us know below…