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I have questions for the gardening types out there.

When we bought the house, there were (and are) garden beds all around.  All of which I have neglected for the past few years, due to the enormous amount of work we've been doing inside.  Late last year I finally turned some attention to the outside.  That was mostly composed of making two of the beds MUCH smaller.  One of them is going to be a complete do-over, but the other is the bed of day lilies, which I would like to keep, because I like day lilies.  Here's the thing - when we moved in, everything was mulched.  Not newly, but what was there still had some legs on it.  That mulch has undergone almost four years of decomposition, which is to say... it's gone.  The front isn't doing too badly, and the two do-over beds are hopefully going to get some attention from me this year, but the lily bed needs new mulch in order to keep the weeds under control.

So when does one do this?  Can I mulch in the spring, and have stuff come up through it?  If so, how deep do I put it down?  Do I have to wait until things are already up and mulch around them?  Do I need to wait until fall and mulch as things are going dormant?

Also, any ideas about how to end the career of a wisteria?  That damn thing Will Not Die.

Next I need to learn about lawns.  Because I want a little bit of grass where Charlotte can play.  Which is good, because I only have a little bit of yard.



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2010 05:51 pm (UTC)
I have no experience with wisteria. (It doesn't grow here...too cold.)

I mulch twice a year, putting down 2-4 inches pretty much every time. You can mulch ANY time, though I always do it in spring when nothing (or only sprouts) has come up yet, and again in fall when I'm cutting things down. Mulch goes down VERY fast, and having just a skim of it doesn't really do any good. It certainly won't keep weeds down and it won't hold much moisture in. (The two primary things mulch is used for.) You have to have a nice, thick layer. I mulch ultra thick because I don't have to pay for my stuff, so I keep the level at 4 to 6 inches deep. I suppose as little as two inches would do some good but the weed-keeping-down would be minimal, imo. Weeds WILL still rise through mulch, but they are much easier to pull out and you get far less new ones taking root as you go along.
Mar. 5th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC)
"I have no experience with wisteria. (It doesn't grow here...too cold.)"

Oh my goodness - it's like kudzu! Talk about a pernicious weed... I've chopped it, I've pulled it, I've chopped and pulled it again... Pretty soon I'm going to poison it, and from what I hear I'm not sure that'll do it.

Really? I can mulch that deep without smothering things? Cool! I'd never encountered mulch before moving in here, and I was really impressed at how much easier it was to pull the weeds out. That is, before it all went away. I'll have to get out there with a tape measure this weekend to figure out how much I need to buy to get a nice thick layer.

This is probably a stupid question, but I presume that I want the snow to have melted off first, right? Otherwise I'm just gonna be insulating it from the sun...

What do you like for heavy shade plants? It looks like I'm zone 6a, for what that's worth. I've got a spot that would make a nice shade garden. I'm not sure I'll get to it this year. I need to snap a picture of the spot to show the bones of the area.
Mar. 6th, 2010 12:21 am (UTC)
Yes, do not mulch over top of snow :)

I have a massive shade garden. And once your plants are established, they are awesome because weeds tend not to be a problem (as long as you have some mulch down).

I advise ferns, monkshood (aconitum)(this does of course depend on whether it is heavy shade or dappled shade, but I'll just list all mostly-shade things I can think of off the top of my head), brunnera, hostas (SO many kinds), bleeding heart (dicentra), primula (cute little things, very plain when not flowering), rhododendron, hydrangea (medium shade), woodland phlox, columbine, astilbe, trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, toad lily (tricyrtis)...

That's all that's coming to me right now. Those are all hardy in Zone 4, at least the varieties I have (we're Zone 4.) Zone 6 is what most Zone 4 folks consider ideal :)
Mar. 6th, 2010 12:35 am (UTC)
The garden I'm thinking of is going to be heavy shade - it's under trees, north facing, AND shaded by the house in addition to the trees.

I could move ferns from back in the woods - there's PLENTY, so I wouldn't even dent them. I've got jack-in-the-pulpit along the front of the house. I adore columbine, but I've never had any luck with them. Ooo - I want to put some Dutchman's Britches in somewhere...

I need to get a pic of the area to post. Definitely. The previous owner left some nice things, but I'm much more excited about the idea of something that *I* put in for some reason.
Mar. 6th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC)
I thought you'd like columbine (it has a very old-fashioned look and feel to it).

Ferns, hosta, trillium, lily of the valley, tricyrtis and several other of the things I mentioned (can't recall them all, now) will do fine in full shade. (Because that's where they originate from in nature...those ones do the best. The ones BRED for shade are more iffy.)

I'll try to write out a bigger list...maybe if I go back and look at the photos of my garden I'll remember what I put in but it's not growing yet so I can't just go out and look and my memory is...you know, sucky.
Mar. 7th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
shade plants
My favorite shade plant --it grows in with the hostas under the trees&bushes between our house & our neighbor's -- is Epimedium. It stays almost green all winter long, and it has lovely delicate pink flowers in the spring. I'm also very fond of lilies o' the valley, which Rob *finally* got going for me in the same area.

Talk to Jane about Columbine -- Rob&I tried for a decade and had no luck -- then she waltzed in with a split, and it not only survived the season, it came back the next year.

And then there's astilbe -- Rob's Mom gave us a split for under the mulberry, which does get some slight sun in the morning. It's come back every year for almost a decade. Although I'm underwhelmed with it, some people like it.

One thing I don't recommend is getting shade plant rootstock from Home Depot. None of the ones I put down last year came up...and when I was planting them, I rubbed my face and my whole face felt like I'd been splashed with acid.
Mar. 6th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Just don't put down a chemically treated weed control mulch if things haven't come up yet. If you do, things won't come up at all.

I used that kind of mulch out front, but I was planting annuals that I had bought. It worked really well, and looked nice. You might want to consider putting a light layer of regular mulch down and then once the stuff you want comes up, weed and put down the weed control version.
Mar. 7th, 2010 04:37 pm (UTC)
Oh one more mulch thought... when Bob's archery butts loosen up too much to be useful, they can be used as mulch. (I think that's where the 'straw' in strawberries comes from.)
I just can't remember the difference -- hay&straw, one has seeds...and you don't want to use that for mulch. I used the wrong one once and had little wheat stalks in my strawberry patch. Personally I thought it was hysterical.
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