If the plants you planted earlier this spring are already heading south or your lawn is more gold than green, even when there’s been plenty of rain, try asking your weeds what’s going on. And don’t say you don’t have any. Anyone with a patch of dirt either has some or is gonna get some.
Yup, weeds are actually great communicators. If you’ve got two or three kinds of weeds that are thriving more than any other kind, they’re likely indicator weeds. Find out what’s making them so happy and you’ll have a better idea of what may be not so great with your soil. For instance, specific weeds can tell you that your soil isn’t all that nutritious, is holding too much water or is actually hardpan.
I know from my prostrate knotweed that I’ve got really hard, compacted soil (not good for plants in general), drainage issues, poor aeration (lack of oxygen isn’t good for healthy soil) and not enough humus (nice, light organic matter that critters, from fungi to earthworms, need to make good, rich, healthy soil). Adding loads of compost and mulch will go a long way to improving all those problems. On the other hand, purslane is a weed you might not like in your garden but it does indicate that you’ve got highly fertile soil which is a good thing.
Google “what weeds can tell you about your soil” for a variety of sites dedicated to helping you decipher what your garden (and the weeds in it) are trying to tell you. Ultimately, you want to create healthy soil because healthy soil equals healthy plants. And, yes, once you’re on your way to better soil health, you’ll still get some weeds. Just think of them as small green watch-dogs.