Anyone else do 'all-volunteer' landscaping?

s8us89dsApril 21, 2012

I guess if I had unlimited resources, patience, experience, and skill at gardening, I could plant exotic gardens from seed (or thousands of dollars of store-bought specimens). But I don't. But I've found that Mother Nature gardens a whole lot better than I do.

For example, for my bog garden that I started last year, at least 5 wild (weed) volunteer species have spread rapidly and flourished so far. So I looked at the 5, decided which 1 I liked the best, and have been ripping out the other 4 ever since. Now I have an entire bog garden nearly filled with a long clumping grass (kind of like a small Pampas Grass). I may use it as an edging and grow something else in the center. Or I may keep it with just 1 species. Or I may rip it all out and let something else grow next year.

But it hasn't cost me a single dime so far. I didn't have to plant a single thing. I didn't have to research anything. No heartbreak of carefully selecting a species and spending hundreds of dollars on specimens and planting it...only to watch it struggle or die for whatever reason.

Maybe if I didn't grow up a thousand miles north of here, or if most of the native flora is this area (Houston) didn't already look exotic and fascinating to me, maybe it would be different. But so far Mother Nature keeps surprising me with gorgeous wild berry bushes that the birds love, gorgeous wild ivy-like ground covers, gorgeous grasses, and gorgeous wildflowers of all different colors.

Why would anybody waste the time and money fighting Mother Nature...when she can plant faster and select species better than I can? She seems to have a reservoir of dozens or perhaps hundreds of native species to surprise me with, enough to dazzle me for years. I just yank out what I don't want. It's like having half the stock of a garden store delivered to my doorstep for free every year - and I just throw away whatever I don't want.

Why don't more people talk about this? Why don't more websites or clubs focus on this "all-volunteer" approach to landscaping? It's so cheap and easy - anybody can do it - and replaces the ubiquitous turf grass or equally depressing alternative of many thousands of dollars spent on professional landscaping.

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Yes, I am volunteering to plant the beaver sanctuary, which are all several small ponds. They only eat water lilies. So I am hoping to find someone who would like to donate some bulbs/rhysomes.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2012 at 5:58PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Mother Nature can deliver some seriously unpleasant surprises, unfortunately.

If I let the Old Girl do her thing in my yard I'd be infested with the many seedlings brought in by wind and birds - and rain. And the weedy things will win.

English ivy. Barberry. Blackberry. Etc.

However - I'm a huge fan for self-sown material that has adapted to my site: poppies, various bulbs, the energetic varieties of Geranium, Euphorbia, (Oxalis...I whisper that one as some can be real pests), Hellebores.

If you are a fan for a minimalist garden (and they can look terrific, no doubting) then your grass idea will work beautifully.

If you prefer a wider range - some judicious planting to help the scenery along could be useful.

Main point would be - get to know your local weeds and thug plants. You might have a real love of ragweed and dandelions. Your neighbour, trying to grow a great lawn, will have a very different view of the matter... Get to know what you have to pull before it swamps your yard and lifts your foundations.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:17PM
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