Not too many people enjoy spending their time pulling up weeds, but left unchecked, weeds can quickly overtake the plants you actually want to keep around.

That being said, not all weeds will wreak havoc on your yard or garden. You can use many to diagnose issues with the soil that may be unhealthy for your plants. Some beneficial weeds can even help to repair those issues. If you don’t treat your yard or have pets, you might even have a few edible weeds hiding in plain sight.

Don’t be so quick to weed out the following…well, weeds.

1. Chickweed

closeup of chickweed flowersChickweed tends to pop up in fertile soil, which is best for gardening. However, this weed can signal really low calcium or phosphorous levels or an overabundance of potassium or sodium. Consider looking into fertilizer options that will balance these minerals.

You can eat chickweed leaves, stems and flowers raw or cooked. Chickweed also has medicinal properties, and you can use it to create a poultice for minor wounds.

2. Lamb’s-Quarter

close up of a lamb's-quarter plantLamb’s-quarter often grows in soil that has been stripped of nutrients. It has a restorative effect and tends to spread rapidly in order to recondition the land. The shoots, leaves, and seeds of this plant are edible.

3. Clover

closeup of clover plants with raindrops on the leavesKeep clover in your garden if you’d rather the bunnies eat something other than the plants you’re trying to cultivate. If you’re not trying to feed the bunnies, you can eat it raw or cooked or dry it for tea. Clover fertilizes the soil by pulling nitrogen from the air and infusing it into the dirt, and it attracts earthworms, which are also great fertilizers.

4. Dandelions

closeup of dandelion flowersDandelions have deep-growing roots that loosen hard-packed dirt and pull nutrients into the top layer of soil, where plants with shorter root systems can access them. You can eat raw and cooked dandelion roots and blossoms. And who doesn’t love making wishes on dandelions?

5. Pennycress

closeup of field pennycress with white flowersIt’s not recommended to grow fruits or veggies in soil that is oversaturated with metallic minerals such as nickel, lead, and arsenic, and extremely high levels of some of these minerals would ultimately kill most plants. However, pennycress fares well in metal-rich soil and can decrease the levels of metallic minerals over time.

6. Purslane

bed of purslane with pink flowersLeft to its own devices, purslane will grow so quickly and so densely that it will carpet the ground and prevent sunlight from reaching any seedlings below it. However, purslane is edible and exceptionally nutritious. You can eat it raw or cooked, and it’s high in omega-3 acids, vitamins E and C, and several minerals.

7. Mugwort

bed of white mugwortAlso known as common wormwood, mugwort is an invasive weed that is hard to eradicate and will grow just about anywhere. Landscapers aren’t fond of it, but it has several desirable properties:

  • It absorbs heavy metals.
  • It prevents erosion.
  • And it nourishes soil that is lacking nutrients.

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It’s not easy to back off and let weeds invade your flower beds. If you can’t resist pulling them up:

  • Turn weeding into a fun activity with the kids.
  • Stop to wonder why they might have chosen to take up residence in that particular spot.

Call a local Best Pick landscaping company if you’re concerned about the health of your soil.