'There's no such thing as a weed.' While this organic gardening maxim holds a grain of truth, the fact is that any gardener will sometimes have to deal with plants that have picked the wrong place to grow. The occasional wildflower in your vegetable patch may be a welcome beacon for pollinators -- but left unchecked; weeds can choke the life out of your garden. They can also break up paths, patios, and driveways, creating trip hazards.
It's useful to recognize common weeds, as they can spread quickly if you don't remove them. You may be wondering, 'How can I identify a weed in my garden?' Today's organic gardener has lots of tools at their disposal, including identifier apps and photo searches. Here are some of the most common weeds you're likely to find in your garden.
With their bright yellow flowers and downy seed-heads, dandelions are some of the most recognizable weeds around. They have vivid yellow composite flowers and serrated leaves, which is where they get their name: dandelion is derived from the French phrase dent de lion, or teeth of the lion. Are dandelions weeds, though? While they have their uses (you can eat both the flowers and leaves and the flowers can be made into jelly and wine), dandelions can quickly take over if they're not kept in check.
Ivy may look romantic, but in the wrong locations, it can be a real menace. It's a fast-growing vine that can strangle other plants, even trees. You can recognize ivy by its glossy dark green leaves, and small light-green flowers that produce toxic blackberries. An unrelated species known as ground ivy is a prevalent weed, with round leaves and a spreading habit. Ground ivy weeds are notoriously hard to get rid of.
Clover is a member of the pea family that spreads out to form mats. Its small round flower heads are recognizable, usually white, pink or crimson, and triple leaves. Like dandelions, clover has some fans who argue that it's not a weed. To be fair, clover does have value for the organic gardener. You can plant areas of exhausted soil with clover to fix nitrogen and provide green manure. Bees and other pollinators also like clover. In the wrong place, though, clover's fast-spreading habit can make it a nuisance plant.
While it's sometimes used as a herb, chickweed can rapidly outstay its welcome in your garden. It grows rapidly and spreads quickly to smother other plants. You can recognize chickweed by its pairs of bright green leaves and tiny white flowers. If you have pet rabbits or guinea pigs, they'll be happy to take care of your chickweed problem by eating it (another reason to choose a pet-friendly weed killer).
Unlike the other plants on this list, crabgrass has few defenders. This tenacious weed grows in clumps and spreads fast. Crabgrass is an ugly, coarse form of grass that looks unsightly and can quickly crowd out other plants. Crabgrass can be very tricky to get rid of once it has a foothold.
Whatever weeds you find in your organic garden, you need a safe, reliable herbicide. Earth's Ally Natural Weed & Grass Killer is the safe, effective and responsible choice for your organic garden, killing weeds down to the roots without harsh chemicals.