For the novice gardener, the difference between a weed and a flower might be nothing more than whether or not the plant is wanted in the garden. With that basic distinction, many plants that are actually defined as weeds find their place in gardens because they have a flowery appearance. On the other hand, many weeds torment flower beds and removing them is an annoying chore for many a gardener. From a more scientific perspective, however, weeds aren't all that bad. Here is a basic guide to identifying these plants in your home garden:
Weeds often spread quickly, but do not cause a threat to native plants in the area. Therefore, weeds are not necessarily invasive plants. Even though some weedy plants won't necessarily disrupt your flower bed, they can take away from the aesthetic you're trying to present. Weedy plants can be divided into three main categories: broadleaf weeds, lawn weeds and grass-like weeds. Common weeds include crabgrass, poison ivy and prickly lettuce.
Invasive plants, all of which are weeds, are the real headache for gardeners. An invasive species can quickly spread, dominate the landscape and harm native species of plants in the area. Invasive plants are particularly hard to kill because they can grow rapidly, produce many seeds, disperse seeds over a wide geographical area, have a lack of natural predators and germinate quickly, according to the Chicago Tribune. These plants can be a challenge for the average gardener, causing the continual need to clean up flower beds. Invasive plants can be nearly impossible to contain. Examples of invasive species include buckthorn, honeysuckle and hogweed.
Flowers are, of course, desirable in your garden. Also known as the bloom or blossom of a plant, flowers are the reproductive center of the overall organism. A garden is a celebrated center for flowers, but remember that some weeds flower as well. Dandelions and sowthistles are two of the most common types of these weeds. For some, these weedy flowers might not make a difference to the overall appearance of the garden, but they can take resources away from your other plants. Eliminating all weeds from your lawn and garden is the best way to make sure your desired plant life stays healthy. Wildflowers are also at times mistaken for weeds. Accounts of the rarity of wildflowers varies, so research the native flowers in your lawn or garden to make sure it is not endangered in the area before killing it. Endangered flowers are often listed by state.
Weeds are often a sign that something is wrong in the soil, such as over-acidity or uneven watering. Use the weeds in your garden to identify any problems in the soil that can easily be fixed. Your lawn or garden might just need to be fertilized. However, enriching the soil can be challenging. If needed, herbicides can be found in any neighborhood garden center, but be careful when spraying weeds to isolate the area. Herbicides can have a harmful effect on other plants in your garden. To avoid hurting your flowers, there's always the old fashioned method of weeding by hand. Digging out weeds by the roots will ensure the undesired plant does not return. When removing weeds by hand remember to wear gloves, as many of these plants are poisonous or can cause an itch.
The best method for preventing weeds is maintaining a dense and healthy lawn. Make sure to properly take care of your soil to keep away these pesky plants.