In Western culture, we pride ourselves on pristine, clean-cut lawns. Other than areas designated for beautiful flowers, shrubs, and hedges, we maintain a lawn that consists of green grass. And that is what is important, right? Weeds are considered an eyesore, but what is the benefit of grass? We are not graminivores, animals that primarily eat grass. What most people fail to realize is that of the plants that we refer to as weeds, the majority have been used for food or medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Before modern medicine began churning out synthetic medication, plants or herbs were used as medicine. Some of those plants you will find in your backyard. Here, I will cover five of the most common backyard weeds you should avoid killing.

The first weed you should avoid killing is the dandelion. I have always enjoyed drinking a cup of coffee in the morning, but I have traded in my cup of coffee for a cup of roasted dandelion root tea, which can be used as a coffee substitute. According to WebMD, dandelion tea can act as an anti-inflammatory, help lower blood pressure, improve liver health, and provide immune system support. I have also found that dandelion tea is a good diuretic and a mild laxative. Not only can you make tea, but you can eat the flowers, leaves, and roots, and receive the vitamin C, beta-carotene, magnesium, calcium, iron, and zinc provided by dandelions. With these benefits, why would anyone destroy dandelions?

The second weed you should avoid killing is purslane. According to WebMD, purslane is considered to be a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants. Add to the list antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal qualities, and you have a potent herb. You can prepare purslane like you would spinach by steaming it, sautéing it, or eating it raw. The taste is also similar to spinach with a mildly salty, sour taste. Would you destroy spinach growing in your garden? Now, would you destroy purslane?

The third weed you should avoid killing is nettle. Nettle contains many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin E, melatonin, iron, and calcium. In her book, “The Good Living Guide to Medicinal Tea: 50 Ways to Brew The Cure For What Ails You,” Jennifer Brown reveals that nettle can be used medicinally for energy, alleviation of pain caused by arthritis, benefit to the urinary tract, benefit to the gallbladder, benefit to the kidneys, and treatment for asthma and allergies. I should point out that stinging nettle has little prickly spines that, well, sting. I recommend using gloves when harvesting stinging nettle. Dropping the leaves into boiling water is one way to remove the spines, but once the leaves begin to dry, the spines are essentially rendered harmless. Don’t get angry and uproot the plant because you get a tingle from the spins, the health benefits this plant provides are worth the trouble.

The fourth weed you should avoid killing is chickweed. This time, the word weed is incorporated into the name, but don’t let that fool you. Like other plants listed here, chickweed contains vitamin C, and also calcium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. According to Rosemary Gladstar, this plant helps with a range of ailments including kidney and liver disorders, and skin irritations. Chickweed is a mild diuretic and can help with weight loss by stimulating metabolism. The stems, leaves, and flowers are all edible and have a mildly sweet taste. I won’t be killing chickweed in my lawn, will you?

Broadleaf Plantain

The fifth and final weed in my list of weeds you should avoid killing is plantain. I have seen this all over my lawn in the past, and, before I knew better, I pulled these plants up and threw them in the trash. I didn’t know then that plantain contains vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, and vitamin K. According to Rosemary Gladstar, plantain can be used to detox the liver and purify the blood. It can also shorten the recovery time for healing wounds. And, like dandelion, it can be used as a mild laxative. Never again will I uproot these precious plants!

While some are concerned about the aesthetic beauty of their lawns, I find it beneficial to make use of these plants, rather than destroy them. Transplanting these plants to a more controllable area would be preferred over the destruction of the plants. Although I have listed five of the plants that people destroy to make way for green grass, there are so many more plants that people kill every day thinking that they are ridding themselves of a nuisance. I encourage you to research every plant before you kill it. You might have a treasure trove of medicinal and nutritional plants right in your backyard.

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