heavy gardening over

mamasalvo(Z6 Centr Mass)April 14, 2014

after 30 years of adding plots wherever I could, it is time to redo the beds and make them easy for the next owners to maintain. The front beds are easy- Mature trees with Stella and various Hostas underplanted. the perrenial beds more difficult and I have been too generous with the fern population in full sun. Who knew they would thrive there.
I know this will be met with some distain but can I really tarp over areas and cover with mulch. Will that kill even tawny daylilys? I expect my baptisias will push through anything. Any advise besides rototilling. I am trying to remove areas but not all of my established beds. Thanx

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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

Have you considered donating the plants, bringing them to a local nursery, or trading them to fellow GardenWeb Bloggers?

Do you have any asparagus crowns or sedum that you'd be happy to part with for free?

    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:47PM
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claireplymouth z6b coastal MA

There's a current post, New Garden in Lexington where the poster is looking for plants.

Also, ontheteam runs a plant sale to benefit the Children's Hospital and she's always looking for donations.

Giving the plants to someone who really wants them would be a nice solution to your problem.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2014 at 5:59PM
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asarum(z6 Boston)

I sounds like you may be working in areas where the plants are not necessarily suitable for pass-along to someone else, such as with ferns that take over an area. I think that covering with a heavy tarp will kill what is beneath it in most cases. We are not talking landscape fabric, but a heavy-duty tarp. I assume you ultimate plan is to plant grass in these spots.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 11:55AM
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mamasalvo(Z6 Centr Mass)

I know I should donate and I do this every year to my local GC sale. The problem I am having now with these beds is not everything is up yet and by the time that happens, I will be busier than ever and then promising to do it in the fall, which turns into right back here in April. Also, I broke the shovel foot and ankle in multiple places a few years ago so any gardening beyond a hand trowel typically comes with more pain then gain. my plan is to mulch the areas heavily at first and then maybe add some shrubs in the bare spots to replace the perrenials. There are three mature trees in this bed pictured in May last year. One is a river birch, one a kousa dogwood and also a red maple with storm damage we are bringing back. Or I could just keep adding hosta but it is full sun. I also have a 50 foot by 150 ft slope that I have let go a little wild and although it looks good in a drive by, I know the weeds are winning. I will post that separately.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:52PM
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mamasalvo(Z6 Centr Mass)

Here is my other problem area. it is a 50 x 150 ft slope along the side of my property. Middle of bed is full sun, both sides more shade. i also have 8 Bradford Pears that are gorgeous when in Full bloom here. The weeds have been gaining on me. Planted some gooseneck and 6 ft tall Black eyed Susans that think they one the hill. Need ideas to make it easier.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:58PM
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Is your intention to turn these beds over to grass? Or new perennial beds?

FWIW - they do look gorgeous.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 2:57PM
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mamasalvo(Z6 Centr Mass)

I will leave some perennials but the plan is for shrubs which would hopefully create less maintenace including cutting down large grasses, Siberians, and other perrenials I dont have time to deadhead anymore. If everything would freeze frame in June- it would be great but it doesnt work like that. I could cut it all out except for near the stream bed but mowing that slope would be a different challenge. The only other option is to sell my house with this added- Must be a serious gardener or plant collector who cant see weeds..

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:07PM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

One thing I could suggest, is to offer these plants to those who could come out and dig them out themselves. I've done that and was very happy with the result and how much work it saved me and those going home with some shrubs and perennials were very happy.

I have no experience with covering something with a tarp, but I have had to cover a certain grass that I couldn't get rid of with a large sheet of plastic and it took a whole year to kill it off until it didn't come back. I think trying to kill off plants with just a tarp might depend on if you have a long enough time for that to have an effect. It might take a whole growing season. You still may get growth of the plants and if they died you might still have the remnants of the plant to dig out. I'm not sure.

I'm not sure giving away the gooseneck would be a great thing for someone, since it is trying to overtake all your other plants. If you can't dig out all the gooseneck and rudbeckia, and have enough time, I'd cover it with a heavy tarp and anchor it with rocks and see if that would work for you.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:08PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

There is this thing called a lawnmower.... Most people do not seem to understand its primary virtue. That is that is cuts practically *anything* down to a couple of inches. Gooseneck loosestrife, hosta, rudbeckia, baptisia - anything. Very few things like being a couple of inches tall, and give up the ghost after a few mowings.

I haven't found shrub borders to be particularly low maintenance. They require mulching. They require weeding. And since they don't tend to be weeded regularly, the weeds tend to be the awful kind like maples and poison ivy.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:25PM
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ontheteam(5a-6 (S.Eastern, MA))

HI Mamasalvo,
I am "ontheteam" AKA Michelle
I do run a plant sale and could come dig the plants out with the help of some volunteers I have in June. ( The plant sale Starts May 2nd and runs every Fri,Sat,Sun in May) So we are flat out at this point to make the sale work for this year.
I have included a link to my blog that has some more info on the sale.
If the time frame works for you and you would like to donate the plants please let me know.

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to my blog

This post was edited by ontheteam on Wed, Apr 16, 14 at 4:50

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:51PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Hi Mama, your property looks very nice, but I can understand that you would want to downsize before selling the house. I will do the same with my gardens when I move from this house, because I'm pretty sure that new owners will want lawn and a play area rather than a big garden in back.

When the town put a sidewalk in the front of my house in 2009, I had a 100 foot perennial border to remove. Large clumps of daylilies, bulbs, grasses, irises etc. that had been growing there for at least 5 years.

I gave many plants away to GW gardeners, friends, neighbors, and sold some large clumps on Craigslist and the recipients did all the digging. It worked out really well, and I made a couple hundred extra dollars.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 6:47PM
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mjc_molie(z6 CT)

Mama, one other suggestion I have is that you contact the closest branch of Habitat for Humanity because this organization is always looking for free/donated shrubs and perennials. Habitat workers will come to your home and dig up whatever you are willing to give away (and in our branch also give the donors tax receipts). These plants are then used to landscape the front of the finished houses.

I've always found that the homeowners are thrilled to have the landscaping done. Many of these folks are first-time homeowners who have little gardening experience and this provides a jump start. Not only do these folks get plants to dress up the front of their home, but also tips and added support for additional landscaping. It is amazing to see what some of the homeowners have done with their properties.The beauty they provide to their neighborhoods is inspiring.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 4:28PM
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I'm not sure why you feel a need to get the gardens in shape for the next owners. Like others have suggested, it can take some time to kill everything off and you may be left with a sorry looking mess just when it is time to sell. Did you say when you are listing?

I sold my house last year with tons of gardens that could easily appear overwhelming to a buyer. But I figured a novice gardener won't realize how much work there is and a knowledgeable gardener will just be excited at all the awesome plants and gardens. And sure, there were a couple of areas that got out of control that were always on my to-do list. As I got older, I wanted less and less to do, but the garden was moving in the opposite direction. Although some of them actually became less work with maturity but some did not.

It is possible that some buyers may have rejected the house because of the gardens, but I don't think too many gardens and plants is a dealbreaker. Most are more concerned with kitchens and bathrooms and are not so absorbed with the outdoor space as we GW'ers.

In any case, I sold my house with hundreds of plants and maybe 20 separate garden areas. Either they are taking care of them or they are not. I cannot care. I said goodbye, took a few divisions of a few favorites and I make sure I do NOT ride by the house.

I listed mine around Memorial Day and it was quite gorgeous at the time if I do say so myself. I did work like crazy to finish mulching and planting annuals before the open house. It sold quickly and remained good looking until moving day in July. I was too busy to do much of anything to keep up with it. I walked around and made video clips narrated with info about the plants and a little bit about how to care for them. The new buyers said they really appreciated that. I didn't give it to them until after the closing just in case I scared them off with how much freaking work it was!!! :-)

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 8:49PM
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I tend to agree.

After you sell your home, you could give the new owners a few pointers on ground covers (such as Yellow Archangel) that could take over if they do not want the work of caring for your plants.

The plants might get lucky, though, and have a new owner that loves them.

Sorry to hear of your problems with your shovel foot. I had a hip replacement on my shovel side which essentially ended my heavy gardening attempts as well.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 9:15PM
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Persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

As with 'ontheteam', I too would be willing to come dig some plants or bulbs out of your garden bed. I am convinced that I've accidentally seeded a handful of miscanthus plants about my garden and would be keen to trade with you. The grasses would hold up the sloping area well.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Have a party. Invite your fellow gardeners over for a day or two of digging and clearing. Make sure they bring food and icy refreshments. I'm sure there are many of us who would go. This could help get out of everything in one shot rather than having people visiting for days at a time. Seems a shame to kill something you've put so much time and caring into. Why not pass them along to someone else who will appreciate them?

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 7:57AM
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sounds like a swap to me! Yeah!
(tongue in cheek)

    Bookmark   April 20, 2014 at 7:30PM
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mamasalvo(Z6 Centr Mass)

Thank you for all your messages. Wendy B. I think you may have hit the mark. My gardens and landscape are likely what will attract prospective buyers. In April, I always only see the work before me but You are right by Memorial day this year, I will be taking walks around admiring my 30 years of labor, and hoping July's weeds do not remind me of my failures. I am also trying to look at garden pictures of May and June before I dig up anything. Well, I did dig up half the Walkers low Nepeta before I made this promise over the weekend but I left the Shastas along the fence in their place so progress. I also have vowed to set my timer for two hours at a time max. My days of all day gardening marathons are over and I am happy to say, my neck , back and shovel foot are thankful today. Good luck to all as you ready your gardens for enjoyable walk arounds...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 2:04PM
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