Cleaning and Preparing Bed for NEXT year.

whatisrice(North Texas)May 28, 2011

Okay, it's late May. Too late to really plant anything at my new home, so I'm in clean up and prepare mode.

I don't want a complex yard. Simple is key for me. So two months ago, I cleaned out a bed and planted English Ivy. I guess I didn't do a good job of cleaning the bed, because now, the weeds, grass, and old flowers are a foot high, and the poor ivy is buried deep.

It's too late in the season to do much. It's already getting hot here in Texas. I figure I have two choices, 1) try to weed around the ivy (very labor intensive), or 2) clean the whole bed out, ivy and all and prep it for next year.

I only spent 17 bucks on the ivy, so it won't be the end of the world to lose it. But my question is, what is the best way to clean and prep the bed for the long, hot summer and cold wet winter, so that next spring, I can try again with ivy?

Should I weed eat, then till, then put diesel down (I'm kidding!!), then plastic and mulch?

What should I do? Thanks!

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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

I have advice for you, but must also ask, why would you want ivy (assuming you mean hedera helix?) It is classified as an invasive nuisance plant in your area. It's your yard to enjoy as you wish, but purposely growing a plant most would consider a noxious weed may be very undesirable even for you later, like if you ever want to sell your property, or decide you no longer want the ivy. It's hard to get rid of and can damage your house if it gets its' grips on it.

I'm sure you did a great job pulling the weeds. Many only need a small piece of root to start growing again, though. And many new seeds have probably sprouted. Weeds never rest. Do you know what kind they are? The instructions below will work for MOST weeds, especially yours: recently stressed by "beheading" and facing extreme heat and drought. If you have some of the real heavy-hitters like full-grown pokeweed, bindweed, shrubby honeysuckle, (hedera helix would be in this category, btw,) you may need to put a shovel to those, and may have a battle on your hands for years to come.

No matter what you eventually decide to grow, lasagna gardening techniques sound perfect for you. Cover your area with newspaper, use entire sections, 7-10 pages thickness. Overlap at least 9" so the weeds can't find the cracks and come through. Cover with about 4-6" of mulch. If you have some compost to put between the newspaper and mulch, that would be excellent. Weeding again beforehand shouldn't be necessary, except maybe to stomp them down so the paper can lay on them. You want the paper to lay as flat to the ground as possible. The mulch keeps as much moisture in the area as possible, and holds the paper down, preventing light from getting to the weeds, and physically pushing on them so they can't get up.

By next spring, the weeds should be dead and you can dig down through whatever paper is left to plant flowers. If you moisten it occasionally this summer, it will help the paper decompose, but it's not necessary if you don't want to. Some new weed seeds will probably be blown in or dropped by birds and sprout in the mulch, but if you pull them while small, they should come right up.

There are many discussions about lasagna gardening throughout these forums. If you do a search of them, you'll find enough to read for days.

And never use plastic except maybe under a walkway or patio. Why? That's all been said. Do a search if you want another days' reading on THAT subject.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2011 at 12:24PM
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whatisrice(North Texas)

Excellent! Thank you so much for the advice. This sounds easy and simple to do... now to just find some newspapers!

As far as the ivy... well, I'm just looking for some nice ground cover that will grow fast, and help prevent weeds. Since ivy is so invasive, as you say, I've read that once it has covered an area, it keeps weeds down. I'm definitely open to some ideas for attractive ground cover that once I plant, I can more-less forget it.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 10:51AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

You're welcome. I hope someone more familiar with your area can suggest some appropriate ground covers. I've lived in OH and AL, and would be lost giving specific plant advice to someone in TX. You may want to ask this question on the texas gardening forum. Good luck to you, and bad luck to your weeds. :+)

    Bookmark   June 8, 2011 at 3:46PM
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This was very informative. Great thread!

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 12:59AM
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