Forum home Plants

Weeds or Ground Cover?

HenryPHenryP Cornwall Posts: 42
Evening all,

I've read a lot recently about leaving soil exposed, with no plants growing, is detrimental to the soil.

If this is the case, is it better to have weeds in the ground rather than nothing?

I always would have thought weeds sap the nutrients from the soil and don't contribute anything.

Any advice, please let me know!

Thanks as always

Posts

  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,855
    No - the longer the weeds are in your soil the longer the roots will grow and the harder they are to remove later.
    Best to hoe them off if you can.
    I've noticed lots of groundsel already growing away in my garden 
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • HenryPHenryP Cornwall Posts: 42
    @Pete.8 good to know, thank you! 
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 9,855
    As you rightly say too - they're taking up nutrients for your plants later on.
    I never seem to keep on top of weeding..
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • PlantmindedPlantminded Wirral (free draining sandy soil)Posts: 1,737
    An organic mulch would be better on unplanted soil to add extra nutrients and improve water retention if you are planning to plant it up in future.  Bark chips on top will also help to deter weeds.
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,392
    Also weeds spread thousands of seeds which can live for a while causing problems when you may want to grow something more worthwhile in that place.
    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • robairdmacraignilrobairdmacraignil CorkPosts: 669
    edited 12 January
    Just going from memory of the book by the writer John Seymour called "The complete guide to self sufficiency" and it was his point that a crop of weeds would take up nutrients and prevent them being washed out of soil and then these weeds could later be composted or dug in to the soil to allow the nutrients in them become useful to plants you might prefer to grow in the area afterwards. He advised that this was better than allowing the area to be completely bare as it protected the soil and was fine once the weed plants were not allowed to form seed.

    He was a believer in the one years seeding is seven years weeding saying and recommended to reduce weeds by killing them before they could form seed. At other times before forming seed they have their uses and form part of a healthy ecosystem. I agree with Pete that the development of stronger roots in the weed plants is an issue and it does also make sense to kill them off before the roots get too big to be easy to kill. I sort of operate in my own garden on a different levels of tolerance for self seeded plants/weeds depending on how problematic they are and some get dug out as soon as I see them in the wrong place (like nettle and bramble) while others get more time to grow before being removed. I think a deliberately planted ground cover plant would usually be better than growing a crop of random weeds.

    Happy gardening!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 48,981
    I use as much groundcover as I can to help soak up moisture but mainly to stop certain creatures cr*pping on every spare bit of ground.
    It can certainly be harder to remove more persistent weeds too, if they're left to thrive, and also a pain, for the reasons @Pete.8 and @Busy-Lizzie give. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • HenryPHenryP Cornwall Posts: 42
    Thanks so much everyone, I don't know where I'd be without this forum!
  • bédébédé Surrey Hills, acid greensand.Posts: 1,310
    Just going from memory of the book by the writer John Seymour called "The complete guide to self sufficiency" and it was his point that a crop of weeds would take up nutrients and prevent them being washed out of soil and then these weeds could later be composted or dug in to the soil to allow the nutrients in them become useful to plants you might prefer to grow in the area afterwards. He advised that this was better than allowing the area to be completely bare as it protected the soil and was fine once the weed plants were not allowed to form seed. 
    Seems logical.  Where does all the absorbed nutrient go?  Into the plant/weed.  It doesn't just disappear.  Compost before they seed and use the compost later.
    "Have nothing in your garden that you don't know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
Sign In or Register to comment.