Pulling weeds may be one of the most universally disliked garden chores. But a recent survey of Buncombe County Extension Master Gardeners uncovered some good reasons to appreciate (if not actually like) the job.
But before we reveal these Top 10 reasons, why is weeding important? Weeds not only make a garden look messy, they compete for water, nutrients, and light that your plants need. Weeds can harbor insect and disease pests that may spread to cultivated flowers, shrubs, and vegetables. And ignored, weeds multiply rapidly to overwhelm your garden and make any extraction session more and more difficult.
Buncombe County Extension Agent, Alison Arnold, shares tips to help you win the battle against weeds in this April 21, 2022, article published in Better Homes & Gardens, “7 of the Worst Weeding Mistakes That Make Gardening Much Harder,” by Rita Pelczar. https://www.bhg.com/gardening/yard/garden-care/weeding-mistakes-to-avoid/?did=779004-20220512&cmp=bhggetgrowing_051222&utm_campaign=bhg-get-growing_newsletter&utm_source=bhg.com&utm_medium=email&utm_content=051222&cid=779004&mid=87090528438&lctg=39823821
And now, a countdown of 10 Reasons to like pulling weeds.
- EXERCISE. Believe it or not, I find pulling weeds to be good exercise! Lunges and squats give my glutes a workout; hinging at the hips to bend over stretches my calves and hamstrings; and, navigating a steep slope while carefully stepping between plants improves my balance.
- AVOIDANCE. Weeding gets me out of the house while [fill in the blank] someone else cooks dinner!
- PERSONAL TIME. Weeding is my time to think and plan with no phone and no distractions. It’s my personal, quiet time—just me and the singing birds.
- DISCOVERY. With my nose close to the ground, I discover emerging plants that are not weeds and become garden treasures. Some of these volunteers that now thrive in my garden are native flame azaleas, downy rattlesnake plantain, blue-eyed grass, Solomon’s seal, and a ten-foot-tall American holly that I discovered when it was only a one-inch seedling.
- NEXT STEPS. The slow pace of weeding lets me identify other garden needs for my “to do” list–diseased plants, bad insects, future pruning or transplanting jobs.
- INTERACTIVE. Weeding lets me get up close and personal with my plants. I find that I appreciate them more and am ready to tackle more weeds the next day.
- CARETAKING. I like knowing that all the water and nutrients that my garden needs will now be going to help the plants I love, and not the weeds.
- NATURE. I like to weed because it gives me quiet time in the sunshine when I can really listen to what is going on in the garden—bees humming, birds chirping, the wind blowing through the leaves. It’s a win-win to enjoy nature while tidying up the garden.
- ACCOMPLISHMENT. I have a feeling of accomplishment when the weeding’s done. I’m a bit compulsive and this fills a need to tackle and complete a job.
- APPEARANCE. I especially like how nice everything looks after the weeding is done. Weeding is like washing and putting away dishes and wiping down the counters. It helps things look tidy and the things that really matter can shine and be seen.
Now that you’re feeling slightly more enthusiastic about weeding, do approach it wisely. Tolerate some weedy growth as beneficial to the survival of pollinators, honeybees, and ultimately our food crops. Flowering weeds, like clover, dandelion, henbit, and hairy fleabane, provide food sources for pollinators in early spring. Protect bees and other pollinators by avoiding insecticides. Reduce lawn size and opt for pollinator-friendly, native plants instead. Designate a small area of your landscape where weeds like goldenrod, bee balm, Joe pye, and milkweed can flourish. Be weed-wise for the bees.
Want to learn more about how to identify and effectively manage weeds in your garden? Check out these resources:
From NC State Extension:
- Plant Toolbox: Weed Profiles
- Extension Gardener Handbook: Weeds Chapter
- Gardening Portal: Weed Resources
From other Extension services:
- Learn to Read Your Weeds: lsuagcenter.com/profiles/rbogren/articles/page1563547396748
- Reading the Weeds: gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/weeds-and-invasive-plants/reading-the-weeds.html
- What Can Weeds Tell Me About My Garden Soil? extension.unh.edu/blog/2019/06/what-can-weeds-tell-me-about-my-garden-soil
Thanks to the following Master Gardener volunteers for their weedy musings: Carol Brown, Nancy Good, Catherine Pawlik, and Carol Anne Reynolds. And also to our Extension Agent, Alison Arnold.
Article written by Beth Leonard, Extension Master GardenerSM Volunteer.