Weed Garden

Sometimes there is confusion as to the difference in a weed garden and a wildlife garden. Wildlife gardening collectively focuses on wildlife along with the natural plant habitat, which includes native weeds.

Photo: Le-thuy Do

Weeds don't need to be cultivated but that does not mean to let any garden with weeds go unattended. Sorry! To do so could be trouble causing overgrowth.  Some weeds can grow out of control, overwhelming wanted vegetation. This can invite unwanted pests and diseases.

Rather than being overwhelmed, view any garden as an entire system.  Every garden and lawn showing an infestation of weeds, pests or diseases are viewed by the organic gardener as symptoms of an illness, not the illness. The illness being the soil. 

When developing weed, wildlife and butterfly gardens look at the ground up - consider the soil.  Is soil compacted and lacking vital organic matter, fertilizer and aeration or has the area been starved of these?

Is the soil over saturated with water or needing more? By keeping things simple in time weeds that do not contribute to any garden will thin out with help from you.

Having a well maintained weed garden will also help your local eco-system remain in check with beneficial insects and more.

The Weed Identification page details how plants grow, including weeds. Understanding this helps with choosing eradication methods and then controlling them with different types of mulch. On this same page also are Common weeds to be eradicated. These weeds can be invasive both above the soil line and below it in rooting systems.

Many weeds that need to be eradicated seem to happily jump from lawns into gardens.

Weeds just don't stop at garden borders.

Photo: Malcolm Snook

To help build a better understanding of garden and lawn weeds, this webmaster is a Certified Arborist with a B.S. in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences who also welcomes your questions about weeds and lawn care.

The list on this Weed Garden page are better flowering weeds that offer nectar sources and host plants for a weed and butterfly garden. Because many of these are wanted, consider them wildflowers.

So what is exactly is a weed? Definitions include plants that are considered:

  • Out of place.
  • Undesirable.
  • Troublesome.
  • Useless.
  • Noxious.
  • Grows in abundance.
  • Root systems are invasive, suffocating out wanted vegetation.

Not all weeds fit into the above descriptions and some over the counter plants do. Geographic locations make a difference with how weeds grow. We have all unwittingly planted pretty flowers and plants that turned into weeds to be dealt with later. Butterflies don't distinguish between them, so we must learn to identify weeds which create a healthy weed garden.

  • The types of weeds listed below can be successfully used for weed and wildlife gardening, with a "BUT..." attached to it. Let's call these OK to use weeds with some caution.

    • Biennial Thistle's
      Bull Thistle
    • Bindweed
    • Buttercup
    • Butterfly Bushes
    • Cinquefoil
    • Cow Parsley
    • Curly Dock
    • Dandelion
    • Fleabane
    • Healall
    • Henbit
    • Horsetail
    • Polygonum persicaria, or Lady's Thumb
    • Morning Glory
    • Nutsedge
    • Speedwell

  • The weed names here include flowering weeds that we humans enjoy along with the butterflies without having serious consequences. Let's call these Good Weeds to use.

    • Black Medic
    • Birdsfoot Trefoil
    • Bluet
    • Chickweed
    • Clover
    • Cuckoo Flower
    • Daisies
    • Golden-rod
    • Moss
    • Oxalis
    • Queen-Anne's Lace
    • Red Sorrel
    • Scarlet Pimpernel
    • Tall Fescue
    • Trefoil
    • Wild Garlic
      Wild Onion
    • Wood Sorrel
    • Yarrow
    • Yellow Rocket
    • Violet

When building a garden with wildflowers, it's good to have a plan. You are more likely to attract butterflies following the guidelines found on the how to attract butterflies page.

Photo: EasyButterflyGarden

Related Articles:

Soil Testing Methods - Understand soil pH and treating imbalances.
How To Test Your Soil - Without spending any money!
Exotic Butterfly - What happens when we unwittingly plant, or bring something in a weed garden that is not native, or exotic.

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