We gardeners are all about embracing Mother Nature, even if that means managing a lawn full of weeds. Most weeds are really plants growing in places we don’t want them to be! So if weeding tops your list of most-dreaded chores, you’ll be happy to learn that many varieties are actually beneficial to your garden – they repel pests, fertilize your soil, attract butterflies and birds and can even add some zest to your salad bowl! So put down that weeding tool and let these varieties be!
Clover leaves draw nitrogen from the air and release it into the earth via its roots, so it’s great for gardens with sub-par soil. Clover also retains moisture around its roots, making it a great BFF for thirsty veggies like cauliflower, squash, and broccoli. And because clover is a high-protein legume, it can feed you in a pinch if you’re stuck in the forest!
Sure, it’s an invasive plant, but plantains also have medicinal qualities. Its leaves are antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, and for hundreds of years, it has been used to stop bleeding, soothe bug bites and poison ivy, and get rid of intestinal parasites. Today, it’s an ingredient in products that help people who want to quit smoking. Plus, butterflies love them!
Honeybees love dandelions, even if most homeowners don’t! This plant also repels some pests such as armyworms. Did you know that every part of a dandelion is edible? Flowers and young leaves are yummy when eaten fresh or steamed. You can make wine from the flowers and even a great-tasting coffee substitute with its roots!
Nope, that’s not ragweed – an allergen that sends many people running for cover. Instead, goldenrod provides lovely flowers and also brings pollinators into your veggie garden, resulting in a better harvest.
• Wild violets
Tired of mowing your lawn or trying to grow picture-perfect grass? Wild violets make a spectacular groundcover, especially in shady areas. This hardy species withstands drought, too, plus the purple and white flowers add a pop of color to your yard.
• Ground ivy (creeping Charlie)
Another great low-maintenance groundcover, ground ivy does double-duty as a pest deterrent, ensuring that tomato hornworms, beetles, cabbageworms and cucumber worms stay far away. Wild mint is high in vitamin C, and has been used to relieve eye inflammation and tinnitus.
• Stinging nettle
Yup, it has a nasty name, but if you steep just one ounce of this plant in boiling water for half an hour, it makes a terrific garden fertilizer (add 10 parts of water to one part fertilizer when it’s done)! Just be sure to wear garden gloves when you gather it!
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