remind me that it's worth it

newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)June 1, 2010

My back! Oh, my aching back. DH and I are putting down layers of wet newspaper and mulch around the flowers in the front beds (it would have been a whole heck of a lot easier if we did it BEFORE planting, but hey, that's why I'm a newbie). Please tell me that it will be worth it not to have weeds all over during the summer.

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It will be so worth it. I spent hours last year laying down landscaping tarp on large swaths of garden area and newspapers/cardboard around existing plants early last summer. It was so worth it. No weeds last summer (almost) and this summer they were pretty much dead from no sunshine, etc. for so long. I've actually pulled up all the tarp and done planting in soil full of dead weeds. What joy! What bliss!

It's so worth it. Take 800 mg of ibuprofen and call me in the morning!

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 1:07PM
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sprout_wi(z4 WI)

It's WORTH it- Absolutely!! I swear by the wet newspaper/mulch method. I have been using it for years. In fact, I prefer to put down the newspaper AFTER I have planted. It is much easier than having to bust through newspaper and soil, afterward. It's harder than it sounds. Some soil always gets back up on top of the paper and you end up with weeds, after all.

Just think how beautiful your gardens will be and how much time and weeding you have saved yourself. Good job. I can't wait to see photos of the finished product.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 1:13PM
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token28001(zone7b NC)

I was going to say, mulching after planting is best. The soil you dig out always contains weed seeds and you get more weeds if you plant after mulching. And yes, it is worth it if weeds bother you. Personally, I just do a little weeding each day. It's part of my morning walk.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 1:19PM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)

The neighboring property is all weeds and wilderness so if I tried to weed during my morning walk I'd never make it to work! I swear, pokeweed grows a foot a day.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 2:06PM
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My problem with mulches like this in the flower garden is I really do encourage self-sowing things. I use the newspaper and straw in the vegetable garden though and swear by it - it is a lot of work to get down and then we also thread thru the soaker hoses at the same time. After that weeds are minimal and you just go from soaker to soaker with a flip of the T-switches. Soooooo much easier when it gets hot later in the season.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 6:13PM
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I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I did it with newspaper first and lots of it and in no time the weeds were coming right through it. I think it's not thick enough and breaks down to fast to smother the weeds. Cardboard has been the best by far and overlap the edges a little. I think it takes longer to break down and in the mean time it seems to kill the weeds/grass from coming back through then by the time it has broken down bye bye weeds and grass. HOwever it is still not fool proof, as the wind will blow some seeds into the new beds but that is way more manageable then dealing with that and existing weeds/grass in the beds.

Also a good idea in mho is to add a layer of topsoil over the cardboard then add your mulch. The cardboard thing works best if you are doing it around shrubs/trees/roses because the cardboard is stiff and it is hard to work it around delicate flowers. If you want to do the cardboard for flowers then I suggest you do it before you add flowers and build the soil in layers on top of the carboard if your soil is bad or just a enough and wait a few months till the cardboard breaks down if you have good soil and then plant and mulch. I have the same problem with my neighbor actually both sides of me they don't do anything to control the weeds and battle to keep them out of my yard. So far the cardboard is really helping.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2010 at 6:29PM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)

cindysunshine: I would like my columbine and foxglove to reseed. Maybe I could add some soil around them? Also, what kind of soaker hose system do you use? I was thinking of installing a drip irrigation/soaker hose system in my gardens.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:18AM
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My husband got new soaker hoses last year that are sort of a fabric material - before that I had those black plastic ones that oozed all over. If you get them nestled in with some mulch on top they don't even show and man it makes watering easy. I have huge borders for flowers and have never done the soaker hoses there, but we do it in the vegie garden.

I have columbine self sow - a lot of it is you have to recognize the seedlings and not yank them with the weeds but you get better at it. I don't have foxglove - they simply don't do well for me, it's too hot and dry where I garden on my hilltop but I love them! Things like nigella, nicotiana, larkspur, rose campion, gloriosa daisies all self-sow beautifully though and are as good or better than perennials - easy to remove if you have too many and don't need dividing. :)

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 8:38AM
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newbiehavinfun, I am working towards my garden being mulchless and a self-seeding haven. I just had too many weeds to kill last year. This year my perennials are all too young. I think for me a self-seeding garden would work best once the perennials are big enough to sahde out unwanted weeds while the areas around the self-sowers can go to seed. I have too much open space now. I don't have any plants from last year to seed on that open space so it is just begging for weed seeds.I have already removed quite a bit of last year's mulch so my mulch layer is thinner, and hopefully by next year things will be under control, perennials will be big and producing seeds, and the mulch will begin to work itself into the soil so I can enjoy annual self-seeders. Is your garden young, also?

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 10:56AM
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newbiehavinfun(7a - Southern NJ)


Yes, my garden is quite young. We bought this house three years ago and the only things growing were weeds, ivy, yucca (which I'm convinced is an alien lifeform) and maple trees. The first year we pulled out about an acre of ivy. The second year I started planting out front in the shade of northern exposure and mature maples. This year I continued planting in the front garden and we decided that we needed to mulch. I've (hopefully) planted everything so that it will be full but not too overcrowded. This summer we're finishing with the mulch and then killing the rest of the yucca. If it takes every ounce of strength in my body, that yucca will die.

    Bookmark   June 2, 2010 at 11:54AM
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