I've just moved into a new house with a garden. Woohoo!

It's about 7m x 15m with a lot of borders, all of which are heavily overgrown. I've started to go through the borders weeding them, but I really don't have much experience, so I don't recognise a lot of the plants. And I don't want to rip out things that would be nice to keep.

e.g. One thing I have identified is "Aquilegia", but if I'd started weeding 2 months earlier, it wouldn't have had the pretty blue flowers and I might have mistaken it for a weed.

There are a lot of weeds I do recognise (brambles, nettles, dandelions, herb robert, sticky grass, etc. etc.) so my current plan is to weed those out and leave behind anything I don't recognise ... and watch to see if it becomes pretty at any point.

A convenient thing for me would be to post identification questions for every plant I don't recognise, in order to determine whether I should be takign it out.

But that's going to be a LOT of identification questions for what I expect to be just "yup, it's this weed". OTOH, I don't know of a better way to go about identifying things?

(I assume there's no flow chart of common UK plant identification?)

Assuming that there's no obvious BETTER option, how would the community feel about an flood (probably 15-30?) of identification questions of weeds or minor "standard plants"? (Especially from a single user?)


1 Answer 1


As long as you don’t follow the pattern of bad identification questions (nondescript title, a blurry photo of something green, no details on location or environment...), you are free to post as many questions as you are willing to type (and the system permits within a certain time frame). In other words: Post good quality questions, please, and we will be grateful for the growth of the site’s Q/A collection.

I understand that your motivation is mostly a “pull out or care for” distinction. But that may be harder than you think. We here tend to define “weed” as plant that grows in an unwanted place. And what is a weed to one gardener may be a treasure to another. A clear identification means you can decide for yourself whether you want to remove or keep it. Even your “obviously weeds” cases may have some benefits: Nettles make good “spinach”, tea or nettle slurry for the other plants and feed some caterpillars, brambles provide fruit and the young leaves make a good addition to herbal teas... you get the idea. My neighbor allows a small patch of ground elder to thrive in a corner and we both harvest what we need for the kitchen. BTW, did you know that herb-Robert was probably the first cranesbill cultivated in gardens?

Knowing what wild plants are happy in a certain spot can also tell you a lot about the conditions in your garden, even if you are still new to it - some prefer humid shade, others dry spots, some need nutrient-rich conditions, others thrive on almost nothing. What looks sunny and light now can actually be a shady spot once surrounding trees or shrubs have leafed out fully, the same applies to water supply (where does it run to?) or even hidden structures like rocks or other solid objects below the soil. I am not saying that you will see this from just identifying one plant, but it can help to discern patterns.

  • 2
    Yes, definitely aware that "weed" is subjective. (I'm actively protecting Forget-me-not and bluebells, for example) So yes, I'd be looking for an identification so that I could look into it more, and then judge separately.
    – Brondahl
    May 11, 2020 at 22:34
  • 2
    Well, happy posting then!
    – Stephie Mod
    May 12, 2020 at 11:24

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