For most gardeners, weeds are bad news in a garden. These invasive plants often create unwanted competition for food, sunlight, and space in a garden bed. When left unchecked, weeds also tend to hide pests and diseases that might end up destroying your next harvest. This is why many gardeners spend hours on end pulling out unwanted growth in their yard.
But did you know that not all weeds are harmful to your garden? Today, we’ll be talking about the benefits of weeds in a garden and why you should let them stick around. Let’s get started!
Benefits Of Weeds
Weeds don’t always spell trouble for your garden. Sure, most of them get a bad rap for being aggressive plant species that compete for resources with your main crops. However, certain species can help your garden become more productive and lush. Some weeds do a good job of helping you maintain your garden. Here are some benefits weeds can bring to your yard:
They Can Protect the Soil
One of the most annoying qualities of weeds is that they grow quickly. But it is exactly this characteristic that can make it beneficial for your garden. They can serve as a living mulch to protect your garden’s soil Their roots can also help prevent wind and rain-induced erosion.
Weeds Can Nourish the Soil
Weeds are notorious for sucking up nutrients from the soil and distributing them to their leaves. However, when these weeds die and he leaves fall back to the ground, the nutrients are delivered back to the topsoil.
Furthermore, the presence of certain garden weeds indicates a need for certain soil nutrients so you may want to add soil amendments when necessary.
They Condition the Soil
Weeds can help you create a no-till garden. When they die back, their roots aerate the soil while also creating small tunnels that earthworms can bore through.
Weeds Can Attract Beneficial Insects
Most weeds have a short lifespan which means they have to produce flowers to ensure the survival of the next generation. These bright flowers are filled with sweet nectar that attracts pollinators.
Types Of Weeds And Effects Of Weeds
Dandelion is one of the quickest weeds to spread with each flower head scattering at least a hundred seeds when a strong enough wind blows. This plant is a nutrient accumulator meaning its deep-seated roots can collect minerals like potassium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and silicon. These same roots also loosen densely packed soil. What’s more, they also attract beneficial insects including ladybugs, wasps, and lacewings.
If you have chickweeds growing in your garden, it could be a sign that your soil lacks calcium or phosphorus or there is an overabundance of potassium or sodium in it. They also show up in disturbed soil, highly-tilled areas, and soil that indicates low fertility.
Apart from signaling nutrient deficiencies or excess in your yard, chickweed can also be eaten or used as medicine.
Broad leaf plantains commonly grow in compacted soil. They can accumulate calcium, sulfur, magnesium, manganese, iron, and silicon. These can also be used as medicine to help reduce the pain and itching caused by bug bites.
When discussing the effects of weeds we can’t forget this one. White Clover often show up in nitrogen-lacking, hardpan clay soil. It can transfer airborne nitrogen into the soil which can be used by your main crops while also accumulating the mineral phosphorus.
It also attracts ladybugs and other pollinators looking for nectar. These have edible flowers you can add to a salad.
Yarrow is great for soil improvement since its deep roots accumulate potassium, phosphorus, and copper from the subsoil. It can also serve as a compost activator which speeds up decomposition. It can be used as a living mulch in dry areas or as a cover crop that can help fertilize the soil and improve fruit production.
It also attracts bees and other bugs such as lacewings, wasps, ground beetles, spiders, ladybugs, and hoverflies. Meanwhile, its pungent scent makes it a great pest repellant.
This weed with pleasant periwinkle-blue flowers has similar benefits to your garden as dandelions. Also, the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. You can also use it to make a tonic for an upset stomach or to ease digestion problems.
Stinging Nettles are ideal companion plants that can attract beneficial insects while repelling pests. It is also great at fertilizing the soil and keeping it moist. What’s more, it can be served as food, medicine, and as herbal ingredients for human consumption.
Queen Anne’s Lace
There are other effects of weeds, too such as these: Also called wild carrot, Queen Anne’s Lace is a plant that has been used for centuries in herbalism. It has a long history of medicinal use thanks to its ability to soothe digestive disorders as well as kidney and bladder diseases. Its flowers and seeds can also be used in soups and stews.
Burdock, despite its reputation for being a pesky weed, is a powerful food source and medicine. It supports skin health and promotes healthy gut flora. It also helps move stagnant lymph from the body.
This bittersweet-smelling weed is as beneficial as it is persistent. While many landscapers shudder at the thought of having these in the garden, it is, in fact, beneficial for your garden. It can absorb heavy metals from the soil, prevent erosion, and it can nourish the soil with nutrients it may be lacking.
Beneficial weeds accomplish several things for your garden. They can help fertilize the soil, increase moisture, serve as a living mulch, repel pests, and even attract insects and bugs that your main crops can take advantage of. What’s more, some of these weeds can also be used as tasty ingredients in your kitchen and even medicinally.
Knowing now the effects of weeds as well as the benefit of weeds in the garden, will you think twice before you pull up another weed? If so, which ones?
Do you allow weeds to grow in your garden? If so, which ones? Let me know in the comments section below!
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