Quickie GSA

GSA: Gardner Service Announcement.

Yes. I just made that sh*! up.

I keep seeing people in my gardening and landscaping forums asking, what is this purple flowered weed that’s taking over my yard and how do I get rid of it?

It’s early April and the grass in our yard is just beginning to grow. There is an abundance of wild onion, clover and chickweed already sprouting as well as a carpet of purple from henbit, several species of violet and dead nettle. This week I’m starting to see the occasional spot of yellow from dandelions.

If your yard is inundated with weeds, the following article might help: https://www.almanac.com/what-weeds-tell-you-about-your-soil

If your yard is full of henbit or dead nettle, be patient. This is what my yard looks like right now:

I’ve seen several articles online claiming that henbit will choke out grass, but I’ve yet to see it happen. All of that purple- that’s henbit, with a little dead nettle and a lot of tiny violets thrown in for good measure. The bees freaking love it, in fact all the emerging pollinators love it and that’s good news for both my currently blooming orchard and my soon to be blooming garden. I want to draw as many native pollinators to our property as possible. If you’re a save the bees kind of person, you’ll want to leave the flowers too. But here’s the good news- dead nettle and henbit aren’t going to destroy your grass. They will carpet the yard for about a month, then go to seed and die back to the ground until next year. The emerging grass will then take over, thicken up and make you spend hours mowing it all summer. Be PATIENT. Your grass is coming, just not yet.

This is henbit close up. My daughter likes to pick the little flowers off and eat them because they are sweet. Henbit can be eaten fresh or cooked as an herb, used in teas, salads, wraps and smoothies. All parts of the plant above ground are edible and high in iron, vitamins and fiber.

This is dead nettle or purple nettle. If you have this ‘weed’ in your yard, rejoice. It is a medicinal herb and can be used as an astringent and diuretic. Applied topically, it’s anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. The leaves and be applied to wounds as a poultice. You can also use the leaves fresh or dried in tea. I use dead nettle to make dead nettle salve, which my family uses to treat everything from bug bites and boils to rashes of all kinds. I even use it as lip balm in winter.

Both of these plants are part of the mint family, which means they may look as if they are just taking over a yard. Don’t freak. By May they will be almost completely gone and your grass will take over until next year. You’ll never even know they were there. You could try and rip them out or catch all the seeds to stop them from coming back. You could use one of those nasty herbicides and then re-seed your yard with grass. Or you could leave them alone. Let the bees have their food, maybe try a bit yourself and have an excuse not to mow for a few more weeks. 🙂