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To Weed or Not To Weed?

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.

Gail Dugelby
Gail Dugelby
Gail Dugelby is a SAWS conservation consultant with deep roots in San Antonio and the Hill Country. She spent her youth climbing trees, playing in the Guadalupe River, and exploring the outdoors. This drives her passion for nature and our diverse environment, especially our most precious natural resource — water. Given the choice, she would be outside all the time.
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