“Weeds ? Not for biodiversity!

Weeds, wild grasses or even weeds do not enjoy a good reputation with the gardener who is constantly trying to limit their proliferation on his land. Yet they promote biodiversity by allowing insects and birds to feed. So what if we finally changed our view of the wild herbs in the garden?

Wild grasses, champions of the ecosystem

Dandelion, clover, poppy… As soon as they appear in the lawn, the gardener never stops chasing them. The main argument for their eradication is aesthetic. However, all varieties of plants and animals are part of an interdependent ecosystem. It means that all plants have a role to play.

The flowers of these wild plants thus have a primordial role in nature: they feed pollinating insects essential for pollination. They indeed ensure the reproduction of plants which undergo a strong decadence because of the “current decline of pollinators (40% of documented species are threatened with extinction and 70% of flying insects have disappeared in the last 30 years)” ainsi que l’explique Pollinus

daisy butterfly
Credits: Marcel Storp/iStock

As a report from the general commission for sustainable development points out: “at European level, 80% of flowering plants are pollinated […] by insects. For cultivated species, 84% of them depend directly on pollinating insects.”

Weeds do not exist

The name “weed” derives from ancient medicinal uses. The wild herbs used for healing were then called “herbs to evil”, which turned into “malesherbes”, then “weeds”. The wild herb family includes all local or introduced plants whose level of development has become beyond human control. Weeds are wrongly misunderstood because they offer unsuspected qualities. By the way, did you know that some of them are edible?

Among the best known, the nettle marks a soil rich in nitrogen. It is a host plant for about fifty insects, including the red admiral butterfly. In addition, it is possible to concoct an excellent pest control and a natural fertilizer thanks to the nettle! Dandelion feeds bees, bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies and many other insects. Victim of compulsive uprooting, it is nevertheless one of the first to flower in spring and the last in autumn, providing the pantry for several hundred insects.

nettle manure
Credits: robertprzybysz / iStock

Change your perspective on the wild grasses

As the House of Nature puts it: “The presence of wild weeds in a lawn is not a sign of neglect..” Let’s also take the time to ask ourselves: herbicides that pollute soil and water are a source of pollution that can be avoided. Moreover, the systematic uprooting of weeds to overcome them is a sweet utopia. For example, “a plantain plant scatters 40,000 seeds per year which can remain dormant for 40 years!

Finally, letting the grass grow allows the wild species to return to your land and promote plant diversity. Grasses, daisies, clovers, dandelions, poppies and other wild orchids are all varieties that can be enjoyed there and play a role in the balance of biodiversity.

Feed auxiliary fauna

By providing flowers and seeds throughout the year, wild grasses attract and feed many species of birds and insects. There is nothing like weeds to attract butterflies, ladybirds, hoverflies, lacewings, bees or tits to the garden, which are very useful auxiliaries to the gardener. The daisy, for example, provides a source of nectar and pollen for pollinating insects. It blooms all year round and gets its name from its active flowering at Easter. The thistle is also a nourishing plant thanks to its numerous seeds.

So leave strips of grass in places that can be wild: along hedges, low walls, paths… These are all ecological reserves that are necessary for the life cycle of species.

blue tit
Credit: emilio100/iStock

Improve the ground

Soil quality is the foundation of a healthy plant. Some spontaneous plants are there to help the gardener improve the soil. The clover is for example an excellent fertilizer which continuously improves the quality of the soil. It captures nitrogen from the air and residues from the soil to store them. It also improves the soil structure. Common sorrel is a natural drainer. However, do not let it seed, because it can quickly become invasive.

meadow clover plant
Credits: iStock / KariHoglund

Solutions to facilitate cohabitation with cultivated areas

The mulching of flower beds, the cutting height of the lawn (8 cm) as well as ground cover plants are among the non-polluting techniques to limit the untimely proliferation of wild grasses. With a few tricks, landscaping and wild grass can coexist, thus avoiding invading cultivated areas.