Clearing large areas

greenhavenrdgardenNovember 23, 2011

Hi. I'm new to my house and I've been tackling the yards bit by bit. My newest area is about 15ft wide and 100ft long on a small part of my side yard. My DH cut down lots of saplings and weed wacked the tall weeds (numerous times bc they come back fast). We are having 4 large trees removed next week. Is there anything I can do this fall or winter that will help me in the spring when the real work for me begins? I was thinking of putting down some tarps to smother the growth and covering them with our never ending supply of leaves. Now I'm confused if newspaper would be better? Either way I will end up tilling the soil in the spring bc we have lots of big rocks in the soil. I have been removing them ft by ft (great exercise for my arms-they are jacked now-lol). I guess I'm asking what the easiest way to get rid if these big weeds? In other areas I've removed the top 12 inches of soil and replaced it with bought topsoil. I'm feeling like that's a waste. This area also has lots of poison ivy so I'm a little more worried. Thanks for reading all this and for any help. I live in CT.

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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Overall, you have a multi-year project ahead of you. But realize you can win if you tackle it right.

How you handle the weeds depends upon the kind they are. If they re-sprout after they're cut down, you need to remove the roots or kill them with an herbicide (weed killer) which kills the roots for you.

The problem with using herbicides is that it's too late in the year for them to work.

When it comes to the trees you cut down, some may also return. If conifers (pines and the like), you're home safe. If broadleaf trees such as oaks & maples, they'll return from the roots.

For broadleaf trees (already cut down or not), I suggest you let them grow next spring then, in July, cut them down and *immediately* apply a systemic herbicide to the cut surface of the stump. Repeat as needed.

You said "In other areas I've removed the top 12 inches of soil and replaced it with bought topsoil. I'm feeling like that's a waste."

I agree that it's a waste. Don't do any more of that.

If you were trying to get rid of weed seeds, more will arrive by wind, birds and more.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 1:50AM
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greenhavenrdgarden

Thank you for the reply. It took me a year to replace the 1st 2 sections of my garden and this fall they were finally ready for planting. Oh boy was that part fun! This next section is going to be work for sure. We have such beautiful soil here it was a shame I got rid if so much of it. My neighbor kept saying are you sure this is how you want to do this? I found out the hard way bought soil is nowhere near as nice as what we have here (and the neighbor did warn me). Now im planning better bc there has to be a better way! This area was clear once but the former owner let the woods that border our property reclaim it. Hopefully I can get it done myself. Thank goodness I found gardenweb. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 10:09AM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Sounds as if your neighbor has some experience and/or knowledge. Probably worth investing a plate or nine of home-baked cookies and an invitation to come over for coffee/tea.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2011 at 2:21PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I was thinking of putting down some tarps to smother the growth and covering them with our never ending supply of leaves. Now I'm confused if newspaper would be better? Either way I will end up tilling the soil in the spring bc we have lots of big rocks in the soil. Lots of rocks could make tilling dangerous. I would go with newspaper instead of tarp since you don't have to remove it later, it will decompose. You may want to investigate lasagna gardening, and maybe separate this area into different sections like, "to use next spring, to use the following spring" so you can let mother nature do most of the work on some of it.

Regarding poison ivy (or oak or sumac,) the urishiol (oil which causes the rash) is still effective in crispy brown leaves for a while, and also on the dead/dormant vines, and roots. Please educate yourself more comprehensively before you attempt to work with/around it.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2011 at 11:10AM
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greenhavenrdgarden

Wow! I wish I read this last post sooner. I am COVERED in poison ivy right now. COVERED. So much so that I had to get a shot of prednisone today and a script for the week. It was such nice weather here in CT this weekend I started working in that area. I did SEE the FAT poison ivy vine growing 25 ft up the tree but didn't know I can get it from the roots (I was digging nearby). Thanks for the warning though :(
As far as tilling. . . I meant more turning the soil by hand. I'll remove the rocks in the area before I start planting. So far we've been able to build long dry rockwalls with what we've removed in other areas. The property had a 300 ft long one on the side of our house when we moved in. We are surrounding the property now.
I am off to take yet another oatmeal bath. This stuff is miserable. I've never had it before. How ironic.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2011 at 8:58PM
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greenhavenrdgarden

Yup. Just thought I'd add I'm going into my 3rd week with poison ivy and my 2nd round of prednisone. This is MISERABLE!

    Bookmark   December 8, 2011 at 1:58PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

Those rocks and boulders you're digging out.

Personally, I love dry stone walls as they have huge potential for growing various ferns and other treasures. You might also want to construct them with soil in pockets on top for planting things that require excellent drainage.

Have you decided on your overall garden scheme? If you plan to use a lot of shrubs, or develop the woodland, then the sooner the shrubs are in the sooner the bones of the garden are developing. You can always take out the sheltering nurse plants when your treasures are established.

If you clearfell a lot of scrub then the weed seeds in the duff will respond to the extra light, warmth and moisture - and you'll be fighting the green tide. It can be more effective to clear smaller areas, intensively weed and mulch, plant into annuals that you weed frequently to repeatedly reduce the fresh weed burden.

If you are a stay at home serious gardener then a 300' strip won't seem too bad. If you have entertaining to do, or a business to run, you'll be forever in catch-up mode, and that's no fun.

Cardboard needs to be laid overlapping to exclude the light. It can work. So can old jute-backed woollen carpet. (Well, any carpet, really, but it can be yucky when it degrades.)

If you like them, then conserve any natives and ferns that may have settled in. 'Free' groundcover for now.

Learn your local weeds - and how to deal with them. Something you might have previously treasured can turn out to be a serious thug in a new location. It doesn't even have to be declared noxious for it to be a bane in a particular garden. (Solomon's seal and bluebells...aaaargh!)

You might find a mattock to be a useful addition to the toolkit. Well-sharpened for hacking through roots, and also good for prising out rocks.

If your garden path system is still primitive - you might find that a sturdy vinyl tarpauline with rope handles at one end is of much more use than a barrow or cart for hauling away slash, weeds, and even small stumps.

Truly sounds like a lot of fun - but I think I'll keep the thistles and blackberry I'm currently tackling. I wouldn't know what to do with poison ivy!

    Bookmark   December 23, 2011 at 5:23AM
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