Sunday, May 18, 2008

Putting the weeds to bed for good

This section of our yard has bugged me since we moved in here. It's four feet wide and about 70 feet long. It is almost entirely weeds. There is some grass, but mostly the weeds have taken over especially on the side that's closest to our neighbour's house. This neighbour mowed his grass three times last year, once at 10:00 p.m. because the city warned him that if he didn't have it done in 24 hours, they would do it and charge him $250 for the pleasure. The city will be giving him that warning more frequently this year. The city may also start blocking calls from me. *grin*

For two years I've been planning to plant this whole strip in such a way that I would never have to fight weeds in it again. I will not use chemicals in my yard or gardens, so the standard junk available was not an option. Vinegar does work well, but I really didn't want to spend hours upon hours spot killing weeds with vinegar, either.

I estimated it would take me five years to plant out this side yard. It seems small until you try to fill it in. However, thanks to MANY generous people as well as a few Horticultural Societies and individual from-home sellers, I'm darned near done! I MUST thank Charmaine from Niagara Plantcycle who gave me several Hostas and Sweet Woodruff, along with numerous plants for my rock garden. Also Paris from our local Freecycle has gifted me with at least 20 Hostas and countless bulbs and groundcovers. The Welland Horticultural Society had its Spring plant sale and from there I got all the Ajuga (commonly called Carpet Bugle and Bugleweed) I planted for about $15. The St. Catharines Horticultural Society was my source for even more ground covers and perennials for my other beds. A nice gentleman in Wainfleet filled the back of my van with plants, flowers, and groundcovers to the tune of TEN whole dollars! I will visit his sales every year!

The process:

  • First, we had to dig out the grass and weeds from the front 20' of this section. The weeds were so strong, I could not do it myself. Roy had to do it.
  • Next we ammended the soil with composted manure.
  • Then we rototilled the whole section.
  • We let it sit for two days so the birds could feast on the wealth of grubs in that section. (We tossed about 20 into the road. I know there were more! I bet it's going to be a bad year for Japanese Beetles with how many of their grubs we found over there.)
  • We placed landscape fabric over the front section. (This involved removing and resetting the top layer of retaining wall bricks on our driveway side.
  • Then I started planting.
Planting took me two days. I had to cut slits in the fabric then dig down into the soil to place each plug of Ajuga. After it was all planted, I had to shred the landscape fabric around the Ajuga with a carpet knife so that the groundcover will be able to spread and fill in the area. I needed to leave some of the fabric intact around the edges because the weed roots were so strong there we could not get them out. Lastly, I mulched heavily and added a bunch of driftwood to the center section which currently contains no plants. Next year I'll add a ground-hugging Euonymus, which was also a gift from Charmaine on Plantcycle but is currently rooted elsewhere to get a chance to grow. I already have two Hydrangeas in there which I planted early this spring. They are purple-flowering and will look great next against the Ajuga.

What a mature Ajuga bed looks like:

The great thing about Ajuga is it is strong enough to beat out the weeds as well as be walked on. You know the kids run through this side yard, and I won't have to worry that they'll kill the groundcover. It flowers in spring and spreads by underground runners. It'll take about three years for my planting to be completely filled in.

Now for the back section. You'll have to use your imagination, as the plants are quite small right now. I'll share more pictures at the end of the summer, when the Hostas should be quite large and other items I've planted back there in all their glory.

Can you see the sticks poking up all along this section? Each of them represents a Hosta. Some Hostas are large enough that I didn't have to mark them out. I also have three sections of Sweet Woodruff planted. Yes, I do want it to fill in around the hostas. I planted three Lilies of the Valley outside the window. I have interplanted cransebill Geranium and another groundcover which I need to identify, but think it may be a lamium (except it has a yellow flower and does not look like the false lamium I see in pictures on the net.) At the back corner I've planted a fern. I want to put an Ostrich Fern back there but that may have to wait until a different year. I will be mulching out this back section soon as I can. It's going to take a lot of mulch and I'm looking for the most economic options.

As it turns out, the cranesbill geranium is 2008's Perennial of the Year. Oooh, I'm so cutting edge and I didn't even know it! This is what it looks like:

Now, then, what to do about that channel in the neighbor's cement retaining wall? I've got Variegated Gout Weed growing heartily and happily out back and need to remove sizeable portions from my memorial bed before the roots choke out the perennials I have growing there. It's quite attractive, but also quite invasive. So long as I took care to deadhead the flowers before they set seed, I wouldn't have to worry about it spreading beyond that cement channel. For now we've covered up what we could with remnants of our landscaping fabric in the hopes of killing the giant weeds inside it. The neighbour doesn't trim anything that grows in this channel, so it's become part of my husband's routine weed whacking. I don't think he'll care if I put the goat weed in there. Though maybe I should ask first. I think we've exchanged about 3 words in the past two years, though he doesn't seem to be a nasty person....maybe just asocial (and thoroughly disinterested in lawn care.) My other option, should he refuse the goat weed gift, will be a steaming brew of vinegar and salt water. Nothing will grow in there, including weeds should I take this route.

Oh, and yes, I will be calling the city about that abandoned car. It has moss growing on it! I can't work around it very well, as I can't bend over and plant anything on the ground there. There are so many metal collectors in this city, it should be no problem for him to have it removed.

Next up is the rock garden!
(Yes, I'll get that picture of the fountain soon as it's not raining and overcast!)


Anonymous said...

wow! you have been very busy! Looks great. keep up the great work! -groveygirl.

CannedAm said...

Thanks! I am *SOOO* sore today.

Gill - That British Woman said...

Oh the joy of neighbours..........I have lost paitience with mine at times and have cut the grass myself. Luckily for us we have very easy going, hard working neighbours, who don't mind me cutting the grass or weeding their gardens!!!!

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