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My Weeds are Talking to Me!

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We all have at least some weeds in our gardens or lawns, and honestly, it really is OK.  I know a few gardeners that are adaments to get rid of every lat one and they are completely shocked when I explain that there are weeds in my garden that I leave alone, like clover, for the bees, and creeping charlie to hold in moisture in areas where the soil is beaten up by road salt.  The trick with weeds is to know them and understand that they can mean many things like high traffic, wrong grass selection, unhealthy soil, too much shade.  Learning to understand your weeds will help with you grow a better garden.

Here is how it works, while some weeds can grow just about anywhere, like dandelions and quackgrass. most of the time, specific weeds like specific growing conditions.  When you learn to recognize these problems and correct them, that could mean less need for weeding and herbicides, and in the end, healthier plants.

Common Garden problems:

  • Acid soils (bentgrass, red sorrel)
  • Compacted soils (annual bluegrass, bermuda grass, common chickweed, goosegrass, knotweed, mouse-ear chickweed, prostrate spurge)
  • Dry soils (black medic, carpetweed, red sorrel, sandbur)
  • Dry and infertile soils (yarrow)
  • High fertility soil (annual bluegrass, bentgrass, bermudagrass, crabgrass, mallow, purslane)
  • Low fertility soils (plantains, red sorrel, smooth brome, timothy)
  • Low mowing height (annual bluegrass, bentgrass, bermudagrass, crabgrass, white clover)
  • Moist or poorly drained soils (annual bluegrass, bentgrass, common chickweed, crabgrass, goosegrass, ground ivy, mouse-ear chickweed, speedwells, violets, yellow nutsedge)
  • Moist fertile soils (curly dock, henbit, yellow wood sorrel)
  • Moist infertile soil (white clover)
  • Moist shade (annual bluegrass, nimblewill, rough bluegrass, violets)
  • New seedings (barnyard grass, crabgrass, henbit, purslane, yellow foxtail)
  • Shade (annual bluegrass, common chickweed, ground ivy, mouse-ear chickweed, nimblewill, violets)


Source: Sandra Mason Unit Educator, Horticulture & Environment Champaign, University of Illinois Extension

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