Take a look at the flower pictured above. It’s kind of pretty, isn’t it? Will you still think so when I tell you that is a dandelion? Hard to believe that lovely flower belongs to one of the most annoying weeds that grows out in our yards.

What is a weed? Usually, it is an unwanted plant in some sort of man-made setting, such as a lawn, a park, a garden or a roadside. Weeds are considered a nuisance because they are growing in a spot we consider undesirable.  If you think about it, a weed is only a weed when it is growing where it is not wanted. Weeds are just flowers that have adapted to grow and spread in areas disturbed by humans, such as fields, roadsides, construction sites and lawns. They are annuals, biennials and perennials, just as other plants, but they have learned to grow quickly and reproduce aggressively.

We don’t like weeds because they can crowd out the plants we want to see, using the sunlight and nutrients that we intend for our desirable plants. They grow in the weirdest places: cracks in the driveway, along the side of the pool, and between the retaining wall blocks. Weeds can harbor and spread diseases and also attract pests that can damage crops. Weeds may be poisonous, irritate your skin or have thorns. Of course, our desired plants may have these properties also, but we overlook that because we planted them intentionally.

Perennial weeds are the ones that bother us the most. They have an amazing power to regenerate.  Mowing over the plant, or cutting them off doesn’t really bother them. They just grow a new top. It would be nice if some of our desirable plants could do that, like when my oriental lily got broken off by a soccer ball. Weed seeds can lay dormant for years, waiting for you to disturb the soil. There is an old saying, “One year’s seed gives 7 years weed.” Don’t be surprised if your “new” topsoil contains seeds for weeds that will grow happily in your garden.

There are almost as many ways to remove and prevent weeds as there are weeds, and I don’t have room to go into that here. I’ve tried many methods over the years, with little success. One year, we covered all the flower beds with landscape fabric and covered that with mulch. That works great until you want to plant flowers. Then you have to cut holes in the fabric, and before you know it, there are weeds growing through those holes. A couple years ago, we bought an enormous amount of wood mulch and spread that everywhere. That worked for a while, but eventually it starts to break down, and those weeds come back. My main method now is to dig them out. I dig deep enough to get all, or at least as much as I can, of the root. This seems to slow them down for a while, but I’ve learned that you can never really get rid of them.

When weeding, the best way to tell if you are removing a weed, and not a valuable plant, is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.


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3 Responses to “Weeds”

  1. Kem Says:

    I’ve taken to considering some weeds wildflowers. We get violets everywhere, but I really like them so I leave them alone until they start going a little over-board. And I don’t use herbicide on my lawn. If I did, I’d kill off the may apples that come up in the back yard and the ajuga (it’s prettier than grass and very drought tolerant) that is taking over a bit of the dry areas. A landscaper who lives in our neighborhood calls me a hippie gardener. 🙂

    • margaretsgarden Says:

      If you don’t mind them being there, then they are wildflowers. We have ajuga growing among the grass, it’s a pretty tough plant. Even though it gets mowed all the time, it still looks better than the lawn.

  2. gardener Says:


    I absolutely loved the many flowers my wife has planted on our property. And I also love eating vine- ripened tomatoes. Thus my incentive to garden. It is never too late to start a new activity even at my age. So gardening is the latest activity I have…

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