5 Weeds You Actually Want to Keep

Hands in a garden with weeds

Weeds are generally associated with negativity. They’re thought to be unsightly pests, and a downright pain to get rid of. And while these connotations are by and large true, there are also good weeds that are worth keeping in your landscaping.

What Are the Benefits of Keeping Certain Weeds?

Some weeds are highly beneficial to the growth and stability of your garden. Some of the general benefits include:

Nutrients: Some weeds bring nutrients and water from deep within your soil or from the air, aiding in plant growth and health.

Informational: The growth of certain weeds acts as a good indication of what’s going on with your soil. You can learn what your soil may be lacking to better maintain your garden.

Pollination: Weeds are commonly a good source of nectar, attracting creatures like honey bees or butterflies, which act as pollinators. These are good for your garden as well as the earth.

Attraction of desirable insects: There’s a wide range of insects that are good for your garden, contributing to the health of your soil and crops. Many weeds attract these do-good bugs to your yard, making them worth keeping.

A handful of weeds have the benefits listed above. Here are the weeds you shouldn't simply get rid of and how to treat them in your yard to reap their benefits.

1. Red Clover

Red clovers in the ground

These purplish weeds are known to get the boot upon their appearance in a yard or garden, but there are some compelling reasons to keep the blooms around. Besides being regarded for its medicinal properties for centuries, red clover is good for a garden. This plant attracts honeybees because it is a good source of nectar, which is good for pollinating any garden. As a part of the legume family, this weed provides soil with life-sustaining nitrogen.

2. Goldenrod

Goldenrod weeds

Popular across the entirety of North America, goldenrod is a common occurrence in garden beds and around the perimeter of the yard. While it may be tempting to rid your yard of these green and yellow weeds, they act as a food source for migrating butterflies as well as other pollinators, especially those that migrate in the fall. Attract beautiful butterflies to your yard by leaving this bright weed in place.

3. Chickweed

Chickweed in a garden

This weed usually erupts in disturbed soil such as in a garden bed. Many gardeners immediately rid their property of chickweed, however, it presents several benefits to a garden. First, it accumulates potassium and phosphorus in soil and it also attracts insects that are beneficial to a garden since it contains nectar. This weed is edible as a lettuce-like green and has medicinal properties.

To get the most out of chickweed, cut the plants back monthly, tucking them neatly under the mulch of your garden. Otherwise, they can be left atop the soil to naturally decompose. Gardeners should leave the roots of chickweed intact. Whether the plant decays or regrows, the roots enrich the soil.

4. Dandelion

A dandelion blowing in the wind

These weeds are some of the most common, and they’re also some of the most commonly eradicated from any yard or garden. Dandelions are prone to growing in hard-pan clay soils. Along with being highly undesirable for most gardeners, they’re also highly beneficial. Dandelions accumulate potassium, phosphorus, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, and silicon while their deep roots also work to loosen the soil surrounding them. Additionally, these weeds attract ladybugs and pollinators seeking nectar.

Dandelions should be left to grow and die on their own. If you prefer to rid your garden of the aesthetic of dandelions, cut them back monthly and tuck them under the mulch, leaving roots intact to gain the benefits that the soil craves.

5. White Clover

White clover in a garden

White clover is another flowery weed that tends to arrive in lawns and gardens that possess hardpan clay soil and lack nitrogen. Lawns that do not collect clippings typically become nitrogen deprived. Since this substance is necessary for plant growth, white clover is a good method of transferring airborne nitrogen to the soil and then allowing it to be transmitted to neighboring crops. White clover also accumulates phosphorus and attracts beneficial insects such as ladybugs, minute pirate bugs, and bugs looking to pollinate with nectar. This weed will also provide shelter for parasitoid wasps, spiders, and ground beetles. It also acts as a popular egg-laying site for lacewings.

Since white clover naturally occurs in areas where nitrogen is lacking, it’s easiest to leave it where it grows to receive the maximum benefit. However, be sure to prune it away from individual plants to prohibit the weed from smothering your other crops.

All of these weeds bring something different to your yard or garden, demonstrating that when it comes to weeds, there’s not a one size fits all rule for exterminating them. Keep them around to reap their benefits, enjoying the fact that they are naturally occurring and don’t require much labor or upkeep.