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Weeds: Pro or Con?

July 1, 2010

Ask any gardener and they will tell you what weed they hate the most. But what is a weed anyway? Any plant can be a weed … it’s all about the location.

At home I have planted wild strawberries. They act as a groundcover in my flowerbeds, while providing a food source for the birds who visit my yard. I also allow clover to grow as much as it wants in the grassy areas. It’s soft underfoot, green, good for the bees, and keeps the bunnies fed so they don’t venture into my flowerbeds. In my case, neither of these can be classified as “weeds” unless they decide to switch places.

Are there plants that are always weeds? Kudzu comes to mind. Although it was initially believed to be a welcome answer to a landscaping problem, its invasiveness has created even more problems for those who have to deal with it. Kudzu is known for its out-of-control growth.

What you consider a weed will depend on your goals for that space. Are you trying to raise vegetables for your family? Extra plant material will use nutrients and water that you’d rather have for your crops. Very structured planting has no tolerance for any intruder, regardless of its plant value elsewhere. The greater your inclination to a cottage garden or meadow, the less troubled you will be about weeds.

So stick to your garden plan, and when someone asks, you can say, “What weed?”

Landscaper at Busch Gardens

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