What makes a weed... a weed?

Perhaps a silly question, but how did we humans decide what is a weed on our lawn that we should get rid of? Is it anything that grows on it's own without being purposely planted? anything that disrupts the look of a perfect green strip of grass? If I plant my clover lawn, will my neighbors say my lawn is full of weeds?

Either way, I'm still doing my clover lawn! I have enough seed for more than 4 times my lawn so get ready neighbors oh oh

A useful definition for weeds that I adhere to: anything you did not plant and do not want.

In my yard, that means the pachysandra, the previous owners’ scraggly scentless roses, the vinca and the euonymus along with the dandelions, chickweed and nutgrass. But I don’t stress about weeds in the lawn (unlike my husband); it takes too much effort and too many chemicals to keep it a perfect green strip. Your neighbors may indeed think it's full of weeds. But as long as it’s mostly green and not too tall, who cares what plants are in it. I’d rather spend my energy and money on flowers and shrubs and trees that provide some structure to the place.

I'm with @sherris all the way.

A clover lawn sounds lovely BTW...

Clover lawns unite! Love mine and have had no neighbors complain but I live in a really cool neighborhood : )

Add english ivy to the list of things we consider weeds...we are eradicating it little by little (by hand) and replacing it with native ground cover but it is taking awhile...

I want to add some clover to my backyard since grass doesn't do very well with all the shade trees. Where did you get your clover seed?

A weed is a plant where you don't want it. A rosebush in the middle of a farmer's cornfield would be a weed.

I hate stinging nettle because the plant is Satan's spawn sent here to make gardeners miserable. A family member likes it and purposely plants it because if you take the time to wear welder's gloves and pick it, strip it of its hypodermic needles, and then boil it into submission, it makes a herbal tea. For her it is not a weed. For me it is. And for me buying a box of stinging nettle tea at Whole Foods would be easier but I guess she just likes the challenge.

@jersey123 this is the clover I got: http://www.amazon.com/Outsidepride-White-Dutch-Clover-Seed/dp/B004QLBY1I/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1428084550&sr=8-3&keywords=white+dutch+clover

There is also micro clover, which grows smaller, but I wanted standard white dutch clover. I got the 5lb bag, but there are options for smaller (or bigger).

I like the definition everyone is mentioning and will keep to that as well! so what my neighbors may see as a weed, I see as a beautiful plant oh oh

A weed is a plant that does not belong where it is and is competing with other plants.

A weed is an undiscovered flower.

Not my own idea, can't remember the source.


khkiley said:

A weed is an undiscovered flower.

...said the person who hasn't yet been viciously attacked by stinging nettle.

It's all about perspective. My grandfather used to pick dandelions and make wine with them. All the people whose lawns he picked were grateful. Win-win.

I don't mind dandelions. I don't mind crabgrass. I can't stand spiderwort because it is so invasive. But stinging nettle is in a class all its own. It is covered in tiny little stingers that are actually under pressure so if you even so much as brush against it it will actually INJECT histamine into your skin. The results, needless to say, are not pleasant.

For anyone considering lawn alternatives here is a cool site with a lot of options. Many require much less maintenance than grass so you won't be stuck dragging out the lawnmower every weekend.


I'll come by and take some of the nettle when it comes in - it's yummy - when cooked and handled properly.

I have purchased big bags of clover seed locally here: http://cardinalgardencenter.net/ but I would call first as they don't stock much of it. The garden store at Great Swamp might also carry it. They carry more native plants than most places around here.

Or try a moss lawn. never need to mow!


According to Emerson: a weed is a plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.

Jersey123 I am pretty sure clover does not grow very well in shade.

White clover is extremely invasive. If you plant it expect it to grow into your neighbors lawns. Unless they share your views, expect them to attack with torches and pitchforks once they figure out what is happening to their lawns. LOL

@bobk the spots I'm planting are, for the most part, separated from the neighbors by other plants and mulch areas, don't think it will be able to spread that far, but if it does it will make for a nice lawn cheese

One I heard: If it comes up easy, it's a plant. If it's impossible to pull, it's a weed.

marylago said:

One I heard: If it comes up easy, it's a plant. If it's impossible to pull, it's a weed.

This is closer to my belief. Or if it is so invasive as to be nearly impossible to get rid of, that's a weed. Of course, that presumes it's something you don't want... We had English ivy in our yard in West Orange, and I hated the stuff. We battled it for eight years, and it kept springing runners underground and coming up in the damnedest places.

I saw onion grass spouting all over someone's yard today, and I gotta admit, I am dreading when ours comes in. It seems impossible to defeat.

I planted some perennials, which self-seed up to 25' away. The original is a desirable perennial.

The seedlings are weeds, though I sometimes pot up some for the Garden Club plant sale.

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