Embracing Weeds in Your Lawn: Surprising Results

Do you have a patch of lawn in your garden? It can be a cumbersome task to keep a grassy area green and healthy, not to mention weed-free. To keep it this way often means applications of “weed and feed” fertilizers. They feed the grass while killing the weeds. These are marginally effective. The chemicals contained within aren’t what I want to use in my back garden. Particularly not with my kids and animals using the grassy area. So, I have made peace with the weeds in my lawn with surprising results.

An Arizona lawn

My Lawn Transformation: Weeds and All

Our backyard is relatively large. It is divided into three sections with the largest area taken up with a bermudagrass lawn area where my kids enjoy playing. A pet desert tortoise, Aesop, can often be found munching on the grass throughout the summer months. I like the cooling effect and beauty that the grass adds. I do have plans to replace my lawn in a year or two, but for now, it fills our needs. 

The Key to Weed-Tolerant Lawn Beauty

This lawn is 19 years old, and as a result, there are weeds growing within it. Wind spreads weed seed. If you have a grassy area, it is just a matter of time before you see weeds coming up.

Weeds are all through this lawn and it is beautiful

Now, when I mention having weeds thriving in my grass, I’m not referring to the occasional stray plant here and there. Instead, I’m describing a lawn where an abundance of weeds has become an integral part of the landscape. The weeds are covering almost every inch. These resilient plants have truly made themselves at home in my once-pristine lawn.

Weeds In My Lawn

You have to look very closely to spot any bermudagrass in this area. But you can see it is filled with bright green clover and some nutsedge growing above it. I must admit to being extremely frustrated at the sheer amount of weeds growing in my lawn. But something happened last year, which enabled me to make peace with these unwanted weeds.

Wedding seating in the garden

Stop Worrying About Weeds in Lawn

We hosted a small wedding in our backyard last summer, and a lot of preparation went into having the garden looking its best. While I initially lamented the fact that weeds were growing in the lawn, I was surprised to see how pretty and green it looked. A few weeks after the wedding, as I looked at the wedding photos, I was struck by how healthy and beautiful the lawn looked. 

I realize your focus may be on how pretty the bride is, but look at how good my grass looks ;-)

I realize your focus may be on how pretty the bride is, but look at how good my grass looks 😉

My granddaughter and grandson - I couldn't resist sharing this photo of them!

My granddaughter and grandson – I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of them!

After the wedding was over and I had some time to reflect, I realized that my lawn looked great as it had the most important qualities that I wanted – lush green color, no bare spots, and healthy.

Weeds In My Lawn and you cannot tell

And so, I am now free to enjoy my lawn, and I am no longer upset over the weeds present. The key to keep it looking great and not bring attention to any weeds is to keep it regularly mowed. My teenage son mows ours weekly, and we fertilize it in spring and again in fall. At this point, I don’t know how much longer we will keep our lawn as I have a couple of ideas for this area instead, but in the meantime, I will enjoy the lush green of my backyard grass – weeds and all.

How about you? Have you interested in making peace with the weeds in your lawn?

Design Notes From the Field: A New Build, Metal Art, Weeds, and Shade

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
7 replies
  1. Sandy Smith
    Sandy Smith says:

    You read my mind! How do you that?
    We are starting to get a few big weeds in our Bermuda. I think we can use a long handled tool, with a fork at the end and remove them out one at a time. (Nothing chemical Yikes!)

  2. Susan
    Susan says:

    I’m really struggling! I like a pristine lawn, however, since early spring of this year (2018) we had a bunny choose our yard as it’s grazing yard, out of many up and down our street. 🙁 It’s so frustrating to see most others untouched and ours overtaken, as we are the couple who work hard to maintain and beautify our yard while most are locked away paying others to do maintenance. Due to redoing our backyard landscape down to the ground beginning last fall (ourselves), I didn’t put much effort in to shooing bunny (yes, shooing, not shooting 😉 ) Within a couple of months, the near irrepairable damage has been done – it’s in horrible shape, with many bare patches, urine killing off large patches, and weeds spreading like the wildfires of the west. Sadly, we ripped out our entire front yard soon after moving in in 2014, party because the existing lawn was one giant field of dead weeds, unwatered for the six months prior to our purchase the home. It’s been a fairly pristine and a beautiful carpet of green for three short years, although we did have the constant spurge battle each summer no matter how thick and lush it was (we also regularly thatched and aerated). We’ve done Soo much work, and to have it destroyed in a matter of months with all the money and effort spent had been so disheartening. Once the spurge and others start popping up, the birds come en masse, bumping and pooping, and the spread intensifies. At this point, it’s overwhelming to feel like I’ll succeed in turning it around in our favor. Although my goal also was to replace a section of the front yard grass with more environmentally friendly plantings after our back yard is more near completion, the remainder I want to remain grass as we actually enjoy spending time in our front yard and have dogs and cats who also spend time out with us enjoying a nice cool, green carpet of grass. We are also steps away from installing a large area of grass in our backyard for outdoor recreating, dogs and desert tortoise, but I know from experience, having a desert tortoise who Loves spurge, it’s a spread that will occur just as rapidly as having the bunny help spread in the front (although as you mention, it will remain a carpet of green [unlike our front at this point.]) I don’t like weeds anywhere in my lawn, but with our backyard I’m more willing to tolerate them as I enjoy having Kia, or dt, wander the back instead of being confined to a”pen” where we wouldn’t be able to enjoy her as much. I don’t know, Noelle, if I’ll ever be able to rest easy with the mass of weeds overtaking the lawn. I suppose someday we’ll move to something smaller and the fight, the labor, will be less than it is now in this home :/

  3. says:

    Hello Susan,

    Oh, I empathize with your struggles. It may help to know that you aren’t alone as many of my clients struggle with this as well. I do enjoy a lush green patch of lawn and thankfully, rabbits can’t get into my back garden.

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