What weeds are telling you about your soil

Weeds are the bane of every gardener’s life – but here’s one thing they’re good for…

Nobody likes having their flowerbeds and veg patches overrun by these uninvited guests, however weeds can have a useful purpose as a soil indicator.

Keep an eye on which weeds you are finding to be most prevalent in areas of the garden. Are you constantly pulling up dandelions? Are you seeing a lot of sorrel?

Article continues below...

Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine.
Click here to subscribe & save.

Commonly occurring weeds can tell you a lot about the health of your soil, for example whether your soil is acidic or alkaline.

When you know what to look for, weeds can tell you a lot about your garden. Here are a few examples of weeds to watch out for, and what they mean for your soil.

Dandelions and common mullein

Seen together, this pair can indicate that your soil is too acidic.

Article continues below...

Mullein can also indicate soil with low fertility.

Wood sorrel

If you are seeing a lot of wood sorrel, your soil may be calling out for a calcium treatment – sorrel can indicates low calcium (and high magnesium).

Common groundsel

Groundsel means good, rich soil!

Article continues below...

Horsetail and creeping buttercup

Whenever you see this pair growing together, it’s a good suggestion that your soil may be too wet and have poor drainage.


Bindweed is letting you know that you have compacted soil.


Dock loves swampy, poorly draining soil.

Article continues below...


Wormwood indicates alkaline and less fertile soil.

If you’re seeing the same types of weeds cropping up again and again, it’s worth doing some research on the type of soil that weed thrives in. Once you know, you can start thinking about a plan of attack to tackle it.

Subscribe to Kitchen Garden Magazine Enjoy more Kitchen Garden reading in the monthly magazine. Click here to subscribe.

Sign-up to the Kitchen Garden Magazine Newsletter

Enter your e-mail address below to see a free digital back issue of Kitchen Garden Magazine and get regular updates straight to your inbox…

You can unsubscribe at any time.

About the Author

Alex Bestwick
Latest posts by Alex Bestwick (see all)