Monday, April 10, 2017

In Defense of Weeds

Purple deadnettle in my backyard

This year, I’ve noticed that my lawn has considerably improved its biodiversity.

(That’s code for, “There are a lot of weeds in my yard.”)

But I’m okay with the weeds’ presence— more than okay, I’m happy about it! Although I try to keep the front yard looking as tidy as I can for the sake of the neighbors, I’ve been actively encouraging the deadnettle, dandelions, violets, and clumps of clover in my backyard, mowing around them whenever I can. Why? I’m so glad you asked...

Weeds feed the bees. There aren’t too many flowers blooming yet, so honey and bumble bees in my neighborhood rely on dandelions, violets, and deadnettle for their early-spring feeding. The more different kinds of flowers there are for bees, the better!

Weeds have practical uses. Dandelions, plantain, and chicory are “nutrient accumulators,” which means they dredge nutrients from the subsoil and make it available to surrounding plants. Their leaves make great mulch for this reason. Clover in is the legume family, which means it fixes nitrogen in the soil. And of course, you can also eat a lot of “weeds,” too— although I’d rather mulch with my dandelion leaves than eat them.

Weeds are great at covering bare soil. Nature hates uncovered ground, and weeds jump in to the rescue, sprouting up where nothing else will to prevent erosion and build healthy soil. For instance, there was a bare patch on the ground where I had a planter last year, but a crop of deadnettle popped up to cover the hole with beautiful foliage and tiny purple flowers. It’s a little flower garden that I don’t have to plant or tend.

Regardless or whether or not you choose to keep weeds on your lawn, it’s time we started appreciating weeds for the hard work they do. Long live the dandelion!



  1. Our yard has so many weeds, but I feel like they aren't the useful ones. I miss our dandilion patches at our old house. They were good in green smoothies.

    1. I'd never considered putting dandelion greens in a smoothie... you have inspired me! Maybe I should give you some dandelion seeds for your yard. ;)