To Weed or Not To Weed?

SAWS Conservation Consultant Gail Gallegos

Before you spend several back-breaking hours pulling weeds, consider this: would you rather have a straggler daisy thriving where grass is struggling to grow or spots of bare soil?

Are weeds stressing you out? A weed is simply a plant in the wrong spot. Grass in my flower bed is a weed. Baby trees sprouting in my grass are weeds. Somewhere else, these same plants are desirable.

Here are some ways to help keep any undesirable plants out without using harsh chemicals.

  • Mulch, mulch, mulch.
  • Minimize soil disturbance that can cause seed germination.
  • Don’t add soil — it invites weeds.
  • Pull weeds out when soil is moist, and before they go to seed.
  • Mind the gap. Close spaces between plants with more plants and design beds so that weeds don’t have room to become established.
  • Water plants, not weeds by hand watering, drip irrigation or soaker hoses under mulch nearest to plantings.
  • Again, mulch. Don’t forget the mulch.

Before you spend several back-breaking hours pulling weeds, ask yourself if this particular weed is aggressively taking over your garden bed and what would happen if you just let it be?

Here are a few flowering weeds you might consider coexisting with, that grow well with grass and thrive where grass struggles to grow (like shaded areas):

  • Straggler daisy (horseherb): Great flowering groundcover where grass won’t grow.
  • Clover (particularly Dutch): Loved by pollinators, grows with grass, crowds out other weeds, and likes shade.
  • Oxalis (wood sorrel): Likes shade or sun, and a drought survivor, perennial.
  • Dayflower (widow’s tears) and false dayflower: Loved by pollinators and birds, pretty flowers, likes partial shade. (Dayflower is perennial, false dayflower is an annual).
  • Texas dandelion: Native wildflower loved by pollinators.
    • Be aware – Lots of seeds help spread it.
  • Henbit: Lives when grass dies, and bees love it.
    • Be aware – Spreads.
  • Texas bindweed: Pretty native morning glory flower, and hardy vine.
    • Be aware – It can grow on top of other plants.

Keep in mind that once we start having 90-degree days, many of these weeds will die off. At the end of the day, would you rather have a straggler daisy thriving in mixed shade where grass is struggling to grow or bare soil? I say let the daisy be and just pull out the weeds that takeover.

Enjoy the dayflower, the bees on the henbit, and maybe take a bite of that clover. Coexist with some of these little bloomers and have a happier yard.

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