Harvest Lawn and Garden Weeds For Free Homegrown Meals

Did you know that many weeds in your yard and garden are actually edible? Not only that, but they are actually nutritious and quite tasty. 

There is no need to feel like weed is the enemy that you need to get rid of with a trowel or hoe, or worse, weedkillers. There is no need to be at battle all growing season long when you can keep your garden and yard tidy by eating these plants. 

Although the edible weeds that you can find in your yard might be different ones than the ones I find in my yard, due to weather, soil conditions, and geography, below are some of the most common garden weeds that can be used for both meals and medicine. 

Here is everything you need to know about edible weeds. Read on to learn 10 common weeds that you can eat and enjoy in your kitchen all summer long for free.

Warning Before Foraging Garden and Yard Weeds

Ok, this is not a field guide. I found the pictures in free photo directories and are not taken with my own camera. Before you start eating the weeds in your garden and yard, be sure you have positively identified them as an edible plant. Get a local field guide or download a plant identification app. 

Also, be sure that you are preparing the plants correctly when cooking and eating. 

Unless you are absolutely sure, steer clear of plants that grow outside your yard and garden. You want to avoid plants that have been sprayed or treated. Or in places where neighborhood dogs and cats…um… do their business. 

I have years of education as an herbalist and gardener and I still always use my field guide when foraging and only do so in places I know that are safe. If unsure, look up local foraging clubs and experts to get advice and help. 

10 Edible Weeds That May Grow in Your Yard

Many of the so-called “weeds” in your garden are actually totally safe and tasty to eat. These weeds are not only nutritious but medicinal as well. 

Here are 10 edible weeds in your yard that you can forage and enjoy:

1. Dandelion

Dandelions

Dandelions are found in almost every yard and garden, and unfortunately, they are considered gross, useless weeds by most homeowners. Which is a shame because Dandelions are the little herb that roars! 

Dandelions are edible, tasty, and have many medicinal properties. Most of the plant can be eaten raw or cooked. Dandelion leaves can be harvested at any point in the growing season to be sauteed, steamed, or eaten raw in salads. They can also be enjoyed with sauteed greens, in frittatas, soups, or fresh in salads and pestos. Depending on which part you are eating, the tastes range from nutty to earthy. 

The leaves can be a bit bitter but the youngest leaves are less bitter and more palatable. Cooking the bigger leaves will take the bitterness out of them. 

The flowers are sweet and crunchy and can be eaten raw, breaded, or fried. They can even be used to make dandelion syrup or wine. Also, the flowers can be dipped in batter and fried to make fritters. Or they can be sprinkled on salads or added to baked goods. 

Dandelion root can be dried and used as a coffee substitute, tea, or added to any recipe that calls for root vegetables. They also make a great digestive bitter to help with digestion. 

All parts of the Dandelion are not only edible but also nutritious. The leaves are high in vitamin A and C, potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and B-vitamins. The root is high in protein, iron, manganese, phosphorus, and vitamin A. 

The best harvesting times:

  • Leaves- March through April
  • Flowers- April through July
  • Roots- September through Spring

2. Plantain

plantian

Nope, I am not talking about the tropical fruit that looks like a banana. I am talking about the common lawn weed that is a great medicinal plant that is also edible. 

The plant can be used topically to soothe burns, rashes, wounds, and stings. It is a great addition to homemade skin care products and salves. 

Plantain is the best to eat when the leaves are young. They can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, or sauteed. The older leaves are a bit tough but they can also be cooked and eaten. The seeds can be cooked like a grain or ground into a flour. 

The shoots of the broadleaf Plantain have a nutty, asparagus-like taste. They are must when green and tender an no longer than about four inches. When more mature they are a bit more bitter and fibrous. 

Plaintain’s nutrition profile is similar to Dandelion. It is loaded with iron, vitamins, and minerals. It is high in calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. 

The best harvesting times:

  • Gather during the flowering times throughout the summer

3. Chicory

Chicory

This is a weed that is commonly found on the roadside or overgrown lots. It pops up anywhere that is wild and is the leaves and roots are edible. 

The leaves and roots are edible and have a woody, spicy taste. The flowers are bitter and should not be eaten. Just like Dandelion and Plaintain, Chicory leaves are best in early spring because they are less bitter. 

Chicory can be used as a substitute for Dandelion greens and can be cooked in much the same way. The leaves can be eaten raw, mixed into salad greens, or cooked which reduces the bitterness. The roots can be roasted and ground to brew as a coffee substitute. 

The best harvesting times:

  • In early spring and throughout the summer

4. Chickweed

chickweed

Chickweed is another common weed found in your yard and garden. It grows low to the ground like a ground cover. 

All parts of the plant are edible and the leaves, stems, and flowers can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a spinach-like taste and is a great addition to a salad. It is nutritious and adds flavor to any dish with greens in the recipe. 

All parts of the plant can be made into a tea to use a mild diuretic and a nourishing tonic. 

Chickweed is also useful using topically to treat minor cuts, burns, and rashes. It can be used as a poultice or in a salve. 

 The best harvesting times:

  • Early spring or fall

5. Purslane

purslane

Purslane can be found in gardens, lawns, in cracks of sidewalks and shady areas. Many people may see it and want to kill it with a weed killer, which is too bad because Purslane is highly nutritious and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. 

The leaves and stems are a great addition to salads, boiled or steamed and eaten as a vegetable. Or add to stir-frys and soups. 

Purslane has a crispy texture and the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. It has a peppery flavor. 

The best harvesting times:

  • During its early flowering stage and used fresh. 

6. Lambs Quarters

lambs quarters

The leaves and young shoots of Lamb’s Quarters can be eaten raw, sauteed, or steamed, added to soups, and used as a substitute for spinach. It has a salty flavor and a great addition to vegetable dishes. 

The plant can grow quite tall and be head high, but the leaves are most tender and nutritious when the plant is no higher than your knees. 

Lambs Quarters is highly nutritious and is full of vitamins and minerals. Including, iron, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin A and C. It is also high in protein and fiber. 

The best harvesting times:

  • When the plant is young and tender 

7. Cattail

cattail

Cattail, also known as Bullrush, can be found near marshy and wet areas. They are typically found near ponds and lakes. 

The lower parts of the leaves can be used in salads. The young stems can be eaten raw or boiled. The young flowers can be roasted. In mid-summer, the yellow pollen can be added to pancakes, soups, and stews, bread flours, and other mixtures for added nutrients and protein. 

The root can be dried and pounded to make nutritious flour. The shoots, when young, can be cooked like asparagus but requires longer cooking time to become tender to eat (so, so good). Also, the shoots are delicious in soups, stir-frys, and any vegetable dish. 

The best times to harvest

  • Early spring and throughout the summer

8. Violets

violets

Violets are a common weed found in yards that many homeowners try to eradicate. Which is too bad because they are nutritious and medicinal. 

The flowers can be eaten raw and are a great addition to a salad. The leaves can be eaten raw and have a mild and sweet flavor. 

The leaves are high in vitamins A and C. 

The best times to harvest:

  • Spring and early summer

9. Nettles

nettles

Fresh young Nettles in the spring are best. They are like spinach and can be used fresh, dried, steamed or frozen. Dried Nettles make great tea. Lightly steaming is the best way to prepare for eating to disarm the stinging hairs and eaten as a tonic. 

The water leftover from cooking can be drunk to get all the nutrients from Nettles. Just be sure not to overcook the Nettles. You can use them in soup, with greens, and as a side dish. 

Nettles have stinging hairs so wear gloves while harvesting and it is best to eat cooked to remove the little stinging hairs. There is a special technique of rolling the leave and eating raw without getting stung but I never had luck.

The best times to harvest:

  • In spring

10. Pigweed

Wild Amaranth

Pigweed, also known as Wild Amaranth, is another great leafy green that you can find in your backyard. The younger leaves are softer and tastier, the older leaves can be cooked in much the same way as spinach. It has a salty, mild lemon taste. 

You can roast the seeds and they are high in protein. The leaves contain vitamins A and C, and iron and calcium.

The best times to harvest:

  • In spring and throughout summer 

Conclusion For Eating Weeds In Your Yard and Garden

Be an advocate for honoring the plants that grow naturally in yards, gardens, and wildly in fields. These plants are useful, nutritious, and delicious. 

It is time to stop viewing these edible “weeds” as annoying and things that need to sprayed and eradicated. Instead, these plants need to be viewed as food that is freely growing for you to enjoy and get nourishment from. 

Learn the plants growing in your yard and try cooking with some of them in your next meal. 

Weeds You Can Eat and Medicinal Plants In Your Yard 

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Do you eat edible weeds? What are your favorites? What do you like to make? Share in the comments. 

Edible Weeds Growing In Your Yard