How to Plant Weeds for a Naturalized Look

How to Plant Weeds for a Naturalized Look

Planting weeds might sound counterintuitive, but it can actually create a beautiful, naturalized garden area. When carefully chosen and placed, certain weeds can add texture, color, and visual interest to the landscape. Here’s how to intentionally plant weeds to achieve a naturalized look in your yard or garden.

Choose the Right Weeds

Not all weeds are created equal when it comes to aesthetics. Some weeds have lovely flowers, unique foliage, or add nice height variation. Here are some top choices for planting:

  • Queen Anne’s lace – This common weed has lacy white flowers that bloom in summer. It grows 2-4 feet tall and provides great contrast to grasses and shrubs.

  • Chicory – Bright blue flowers bloom on this weed in summer. It reaches 1-3 feet tall. Chicory is perfect for filling in bare spots.

  • Yarrow – Feathery, fern-like foliage and flat-topped flowers in white, yellow, or pink. Yarrow stays low, at 1-2 feet tall.

  • Verbena – With clusters of tiny purple flowers, this creeping weed thrives in full sun. Verbena spreads nicely as a ground cover.

  • Goldenrods – Bright yellow flowers on tall stalks, reaching 3-7 feet. These native weeds are great for adding height in the back of garden beds.

Stick with annual, biennial, and short-lived perennial weeds. Avoid noxious, invasive species or anything that spreads aggressively. Do your research to select weeds that are right for your garden conditions and visually complement other plantings.

Decide Where to Plant

Part of achieving a naturalized look is allowing your weeds to intermingle and self-seed among other perennials, grasses, and shrubs. But you’ll get the best results by giving your weeds a bit of a head start.

Here are some tips for intentionally planting your weeds:

  • Scatter queen anne’s lace and chicory seeds in bare patches of garden beds in spring. The flowers will fill in empty spots with color in summer.

  • Plant yarrow along walkways, borders, or as part of a rock garden. Its ferny leaves add nice texture contrast.

  • Sow verbena seeds in the front of beds and borders. The spreading purple flowers will create drifts of color.

  • Plant goldenrod in the back of garden beds, or in clusters near shrubs and trees. Its tall golden spires help visually tie the whole landscape together.

Be sure to choose locations that match the weed’s sun and soil preferences. Give them ideal growing conditions for the best chance of establishment.

Let Them Be

One of the hallmarks of a naturalized garden is its untamed, somewhat wild appearance. The key is to plant your weeds, stand back, and let nature take its course.

  • Allow the weeds to self-seed and spread. Scatter seeds each year to fill in where older plants have died back.

  • Let your weeds comingle and intertwine with perennials, grasses, vines, and shrubs. This creates a very natural, blended appearance.

  • Don’t worry about deadheading spent flowers or cutting back plants in fall. Allow seed heads and dried stalks to persist, providing winter visual interest.

  • Accept some chaos and randomness. Don’t obsess over neatness and order. Let your weeds and other plants freely intermingle.

  • Tolerate a bit of encroachment. Some spreaders like goldenrod may seed into lawns or walkways. A few weeds here and there add to the naturalized look.

  • Allow some annuals to pop up. Henbit, chickweed, dandelions, and clover are all common annual weeds that provide bursts of green and flowers. Let them be to complement your perennial weeds.

Keep an eye out and intervene if any weeds start to aggressively take over. But otherwise sit back and let your naturalized weed garden develop organically.

Additional Tips

Here are a few more pointers to help your weed plantings thrive:

  • Water weeds during dry periods while establishing and in periods of drought. Wait until the top few inches of soil are dry before watering again.

  • Scatter a general purpose organic fertilizer like compost or fish emulsion in spring and mid-summer to fuel growth.

  • Mulch weed plantings with 2-3 inches of shredded leaves, wood chips, or straw. This conserves moisture, suppresses competition, and feeds the soil as it decomposes.

  • Cut back any weeds that get unruly, leggy, or start crowding out other plants. This stimulates thick, compact growth long-term.

  • Dig up and relocate any weeds that don’t grow well in their original spot. Not all will thrive where you first plant them.

With the right weed species selection, planting locations, and ongoing care, you can create a beautiful naturalized garden area filled with charming weeds. Allow things to self-seed and spread to achieve that perfectly blended, untamed look. Your garden will appear wonderfully wild and natural.