Backyard Medicinal Herbs

I garden, therefore I weed.

I have a small backyard garden that provides lettuce, tomatoes, basil and other vegetables. To make sure these vegetables get all the soil nutrients they deserve, I ruthlessly remove all weeds.

I define a weed as any plant growing where I don’t want it to be. I use 2 toxin-free weed removal methods.

  1. Pulling weeds by hand.
  2. Spraying of concentrated vinegar on stubborn plants.
  3. For added help, the Northend Organic Nursery has an organic yard care program.

Five beneficial weeds also reside in my yard. I don’t try to grow weeds, but I do leave one small area in my yard where I don’t eradicate them completely. In that space, they magically transform from weed to beneficial medical herbs.

Mallow.  Mallow leaves contain both vitamins and minerals: beta-carotene, vitamin C, selenium, iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium. If one is not willing to use in a salad, the plant can be dried into a powder and added to soups or smoothies. The leaves and roots are slippery (mucilaginous) and can be used to soothe the digestive tract.


Dandelions seem to be the bane of every home owner. However, this is one of the most powerful medicinal herbs we all have at our disposal. The leaves can be used as additions to spring salads. As medicine, the leaves help increase urination. The roots contain compounds to strengthen the cleansing action in the liver. 




Lemon Balm. Like most mints, Lemon Balm has the propensity to take over any garden if left to its own devices (i.e., make sure to plant in a container). Lemon balm’s leaves are easy to pick for making tea. It is calming and helps reduce anxiety. Leaves can be used fresh or dried. Cats and bees also love it.


I love Burdock as an herb until a velcro inspiring seed pod becomes lodged in a pet’s fur. The root is used in many liver-cleansing formulas.




A new weed arrival to my yard this season: Mullein.  This statuesque desert plant’s spring leaves are used in lung tonic formulations.