What Makes a Weed a “Weed”?

In between rain showers (and even with a little sun!), the past few days I’ve been working in my flower beds.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been blessed with a yard filled with beautiful plants from previous owners. There is also an astounding amount of flower beds.  I have this dream of one day having them all looking pristine, neat, and beautiful…  However, reality is that before I get the last bed weeded, the first bed already looks horrendous!  In a perfect world, I would have a gardener.  He/she would keep my flower beds free of weeds…and leave cut flowers at my door every day…

In the meantime…I weed.

As I worked away this morning with my “ergonomically friendly” weeding tool and hot pink gardening gloves, I started to ponder the whole concept of “weeds”.  I’ve always wondered who determines whether a plant fits into the “plant” category… and at what point does it get moved over to the “weed” category?

I’ve come up with my own definition(s):

weed:  1. A plant that is more obnoxious than others.  Like this one…with roots that extend down to China, they pop right through the “weed stopping” landscape fabric you just put down last year.  This weed is “snakeweed” (my own term) since its stem looks sort of like a striped snake…and it is definitely a result of the curse. (I do think that it is “technically” a weed, too!)


weed:  2. An obnoxious plant that is disguised as something beautiful.  It is called a “perennial” at your local garden center.  What at first cost you $3.50 for a teeny-tiny plant, you are now removing  by the shovels-full.  It would be nice to be able to give them to friends.  However, they probably wouldn’t appreciate the “comes along free” snakeweed that it is heavily dosed with.

lily of the valley

And yes…this one is lily-of-the-valley.  I recommend you plant it in a contained space…It doesn’t look so good in your lawn…

weed:  3.An obnoxious plant that grows completely out of control and also called “ground cover” at your local garden center.  People, stay away from the ground cover!!!  Before you know it, it will cover you over!  This is my personal “favourite”-periwinkle.


Don’t let the shiny leaves and pretty purple flower fool you.  This periwinkle will grow right through the siding of your house…and not even round-up can kill it!

Now, of course, there are always exceptions to these definitions.  (tee hee!)  I actually hope this transplanted mossy/ low-growing stuff actually grows in my stone walkway.  If it keeps out the straggly grass and buttercups, I’ll be a happy camper!



Well, enough pontificating about plant categories. The sun is still shining, so I’d better get back to my weeding.  Rain is expected tomorrow…

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  1. Funny. I agree with #1, it is awful. I am always trying to pull that darn one out! As for #2, I have that it my yard and manage to control it But for ground cover, you are right, it can take over you as well! Happy weeding! Looking forward to some sun this weekend and hopefully get my veggie garden in1

  2. Ah yes weeds – now, our lily of the valley aren't weeds here, I guess because we don't have too many (I have one in the garden..) Now about periwinkle, I know what you mean, I have some that can get out of control. I just got me a new periwinkle though and put it in my hanging basket by my front door, I'm hoping to leave it up all year around – we'll see how it goes..

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