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gardening advice

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gardening advice

Postby micb » May 09, 2008 8:29 pm

Well I have now lived in my current house for one year. The garden was a mess last year and I have worked hard to make it better by adding vermiculite and compost in the fall since I got it for a great price. I turned 80% of the soil and have turned most of it once this year. Our yard is about 100 feet long in the back, sloping down towards the neighbors and the garden was neglected by the previous owners.
The garden was over run with grass, especially quack grass, weeds..I think chick weeds and other ones. My question is, now that it is almost planting time, how to I keep all the grasses and weeds under control in the garden. I have a huge problem with grass growing in the middle of the plants and bushes so I couldn't even get to them last year. Since the weather has been warming up the weeds are already starting to sprout. I have a small garbage can full of weeds and quack grass from today and there was a tonne I didn't get to. I am not crazy about using chemicals due to the fact that I have a dog and its impact on the environment. I would love some advice. I was temped in the fall to cut some of the bushes right back to get at some of the grass, but decided not to. I am not sure if I need to plant more plants to help prevent the weeds, as there are LARGE spaces between the current bushes, or if I need to put mulch down.....
Ultimately my goal will be to have mostly perennials, since the yard is so big and the flower beds run along each side and the back, but it will be a few years for that because of the cost. I just want to start feeling good about it. I have some calalilys, dehlias, and hostas that I will be planting as well as some sunflowers.
My other problem is that there is also grass growing from the neighbours yard under the fence into my garden.....do I need to make a trench?????? There are boards in some places but the grass just seems to grow around/under it.
Thanks for you help and suggestions.
If needed, I can post some pics.
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Postby Sharon Bryson » May 09, 2008 9:58 pm

I sounds like quite a chore....you might not like my suggestion, but here goes.
If you lift the plants now....early in the season before much growth has commenced, you can clean up each section of grass. Grass is the most difficult weed to eradicate , it seems.
Many plants can tolerate a lot of intrusion at this time of year.
If you have the first section cleared of both existing plants, and grass(6,8 or 10 feet), then you can use this as a holding bed for the perennial plants from the remainder. That lets you work on the rest of the bed at your leisure.
The plants could stay quite closely spaced for some time, and then get moved to the newly cleared bed in the fall when temps are cooler, and a transplant would be less stressful.
Another alternative would be to pot some of the plants while you do "bed cleaning". If grass is among the plants themselves, they will need a thorough picking through....perhaps even being divided.
The aesthetics of the bed might not be great for a while, but you will have a change to do the weed disposal properly.
You might be really swift and get it all done in a short time!!
It might also be judicious to postpone new perennial additions until late summer/fall, or even next spring. I forget you don't always get long , mild falls like we have here in NS.
Pics of the area would help.
Cheers
Sharon
Antigonish, NS Zone 5b

"The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its' roots in earth and manure."
- D.H. Lawrence


http://sharon-willowgardenmusings.blogspot.com/
http://www.willowgarden.net/
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Postby micb » May 09, 2008 10:15 pm

Well most of the plants....with the exception of one are bushes....lets see if I can remember....
double flowering plum bush--no problems, just needs some pruning
cotoneaster---this plants make me laugh...I thought it was "cotton""easter"haha...no problems with this one, other than needing to do some pruning
2 willow bushes that I am thinking of getting rid of--the grass in front of them has died due to their leaning nature....and I don't really love them...grass growing in between
Spurge--grows between the 2 willows and cannot be seen...I have been thinking of moving this one and am surprised that it has lived due to the lack of light
Peony--lots of grass in the middle of this one....it is on the other side of the yard that I have not tackled yet......
lilac tree...small
a little bit down from the peony a nannyberry I think that is growing accidentally right beside the fence....do I move it? get rid of it????
one sandcherry bush--did some pruning on if in the fall and lots of grass in the middle
Potentilla--2 of these, one looks very sickly and funny shapped. Did some pruning last year....I thought of cutting it right back to help it have a better shape this year but didn't
I have a spirea growing accidentally behind a cotoneaster in the front yard I am contemplating digging up.....not sure how easy it will be to get out since the neighbours retaining wall is RIGHT there.
I think that is all I have..it is hard to remember. I will have to ask my husband how to post pictures.
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Postby dlb » May 09, 2008 11:04 pm

One thing at a time. Fix what bugs you most and just keep working down the list. It isn't just a weed and quack grass choked back yard with clay soil. It's virgin gardening territory or at least born again virgin gardening territory.

You might consider raised beds, with a good layer of landscape fabric or newspapers and cardboard on the bottom to block the weeds/grass from growing up.

An alternative to the trench might be a length of flashing going down into the earth between your neighbor's yard and yours.

Move the spurge or get rid of the willows.

Lift the peony, rework the hole and replant without the grass.

Move the spirea because it's just going to get bigger.

You won't be able to spray with chemicals anyway without also killing the bushes etc. within which the weeds are growing. So get a little tool, some gloves, and get on your knees.
Dora

EDIT Sorry if I sound cranky.
Last edited by dlb on May 11, 2008 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Sharon Bryson » May 11, 2008 10:17 am

Peony--lots of grass in the middle of this one

It would be judicious to wait until late August to deal with the peony. If you try to lift it now you will break the emerging shoots....they are quite tender.
http://www.willowgarden.net/summer/Peon ... _2004.html
In the fall you can do anything you want with a peony. and replant....it will not mind a bit.
You might consider getting rid of the cotoneaster, the potentillas and the willows.
The spirea fate should depend on the type of Spirea you have....one which with spring pruning will be quite low(Anthony Waterer types), or one of the taller ones such as Bridal Wreath or VanHoutte's.
The low ones are not much problem to maintain to a reasonable size.
The size ,of course, has little to do with the weedy grass difficulty.
Cheers
Sharon
Antigonish, NS Zone 5b

"The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its' roots in earth and manure."
- D.H. Lawrence


http://sharon-willowgardenmusings.blogspot.com/
http://www.willowgarden.net/
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Postby Paul zone5 » May 11, 2008 11:25 am

The idea of mulch between the bushes would work, especially if you put the mulch over newspaper or cardboard.
Just north of Toronto
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Postby murphy » May 11, 2008 11:27 am

I usually follow this rule...early bloomers...divide and transplant in the fall...late bloomers....do it in the spring. Plants that bloom early can go into shock and the stress of being moved, reestablishing and putting out blooms can kill or severely stunt them. Same with fall bloomers...dividing or moving them now will give them plenty of time to root and rest before they bloom....if they don't bloom (as in some shrubs)...do it either time...but pick a day that is overcast and likely followed by a few days of gentle rain. If there is no rain in the forcast...water water water for the first couple of weeks. Overcast days are better than blazing sun to do any garden planting or transplanting...it is far less stressful on both plants and gardener..lol :lol:
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