Garden weeds are known for being invasive, troublesome, and fast-growing. The bane of a gardener’s existence, they can seemingly overtake a lawn or garden in no time.
Keeping your landscaping in tiptop shape takes time and hours of back-straining work. But don’t lose your head trying to pull out each and every one of those suckers. We have news for you: Not all weeds are bad news.
“There are several beneficial aspects to weeds in the garden and lawn, yet many people don’t know this,” says Peggy Doyle, CEO of Gardening Know How.
See a weed, pull it out, right? Not so fast. Some weeds protect, condition, and fertilize soil and attract beneficial insects. That means they’re actually helping you, your garden, and the environment! Say thank you to the following garden weeds and, for the sake of your garden (and back), leave ’em be.
The yellow flowering plant can be one stubborn weed, but common lawn weeds like dandelion attract beneficial insects like ladybugs, bees, praying mantis, and predatory wasps.
“These good bugs limit the bad bug population in a garden and help reduce or eliminate the need to use chemical insecticides,” says Doyle.
Dandelion leaves are edible to humans and actually quite nutritious, loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Its flower is a source of nectar for insects, and its seeds and leaves feed wildlife.
“Dandelions also have a very long flowering season that begins early in the spring, before other flowers bloom, which makes them especially important for pollinators and other beneficial insects as a source of both pollen and nectar,” says Selena Ligrano, community educator at Tilth Alliance in Seattle.
Monarchs are among the most beautiful of all butterflies, with their vibrant orange-red color, black veins, and white spots along the edges of their wings. And the only food source for monarch larvae is milkweed. So you’d be wise to keep milkweed in your garden to attract these majestic beauties.
“Monarch butterflies cannot survive without milkweed,” says Doyle. “Here in Northern California where I live, we are on the monarch migration path. So every year I cultivate milkweed and also let it self-sow wherever it wants to grow in my garden.”
This is also important because monarch butterflies are moving toward extinction as a result of landscape-scale threats from pesticides, development, and global climate change, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.
Photo by Pete Veilleux, East Bay Wilds
With its bright yellow flowers, goldenrod is a great pollen and nectar source for bees, wasps, and butterflies, which, in turn, help pollinate your other plants. Goldenrod has long been incorrectly blamed by allergy sufferers for their seasonal sneezing fits. But goldenrod is actually used as a treatment for allergies, sinus infections, and urinary tract infections.
“Some gardeners cultivate goldenrod in their herb gardens for its medicinal properties,” says Doyle.
Purslane has red stems and small, green leaves and grows close to the soil. It can be found in shady and moist garden beds and lawns. And it’s also edible! It’s a highly nutritious, leafy green vegetable that tastes similar to spinach or watercress.
“Purslane is one weed that can be used fresh in salads and is high in potassium and calcium. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids,” says Ligrano.
However, don’t throw any green stuff into your food without properly identifying it. Ligrano says many weeds can be harmful and even poisonous.
Check with your doctor before adding new foods to your diet to make sure you don’t have a reaction.
Becoming better acquainted with weeds can help homeowners diagnose problems with their soil and improve their garden-growing conditions, say experts.
According to Doyle, various weeds thrive in different soil types, so identifying the weeds in your garden can tell you what type of soil you’re working with and whether it’s acidic, alkaline, or sandy.
Chickweed likes alkaline soil, which contains a pH higher than 7.0. This type of “sweet” soil is typically found in dry desert climates.
“Gardeners who know this can make decisions on which amendments to add to their soil to improve growing conditions by observing what kinds of weeds seem to dominate,” says Doyle.
Nettles tend to grow in good soil, so if you see this weed in your garden or lawn, consider yourself lucky. This means you can plant other plants alongside the weed that do well in similar conditions. They are also a big attraction to ladybird beetles, also called ladybugs.
“Nettles are a favorite spot for ladybirds to lay their eggs, allowing their larvae to feed on the leaves and other pests in the garden,” says Ligrano.
Ladybirds are a gardener’s best friend and prey on garden pests like aphids, red spider mites, and whitefly.
And Ligrano says nettles can also be added to your home compost pile to help activate and speed up the decomposition process, since nettles are nitrogen-rich and encourage bacteria to break down woody material in the compost.
The post They’re Not All Bad! 6 Beneficial Garden Weeds You Shouldn’t Pull appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.