Need INVASIVE plant advice. Help!

tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)May 11, 2014

I have an area at the back of my yard that has troubled me for 12 years. It is a wooded area that is swampy all spring and fall but dry as a bone in Summer. It gets sun from morning until about 2 or 3pm. The only thing growing there are weeds. Mustard grass, wild onions, golden rod, etc. Every time my husband has tried the amend the soil and plant something he only makes matters worse - killing off the prettier weeds leaving dried up dirt patches and more tall grasses. Bishop's weed and Evening primrose are trying to make it but have not spread one inch over several years. The ground is hard clay.

I need advice on some very invasive plants. I don't care what it is as long as it's more attractive than is what there now. It looks like a post-apocalyptic wasteland right now. Give me your most invasive, untameable ideas. Things you would never want anywhere near your garden.

Please help. Did I mention even the mint died. :(

This post was edited by tastefullyjulie on Sun, May 11, 14 at 10:17

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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

Another pic.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 11:36AM
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You want an aggressive invasive plant because you think it's the only thing that will grow there? I have tons that fits the bill!

I would recommend an alternative approach. Start dumping compostables on the entire area.... grass clippings, dried leaves, kitchen green waste, used coffee grounds, shredded junk mail, etc. Just pile it on the area nice and thick -- at least a foot or two high. Keep adding to the pile as the seasons change and make sure it gets enough water to be active. After a year like that, the worms should have moved in, and the ground should be much improved with that nice layer of compost. You can try planting next year or pile on another year's worth of compostables and wait until the following year for planting.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2014 at 10:07PM
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Be careful what you wish for! Invasives can be the bane of your existence!

What I would do is mow all the material there now down as low as possible. Really scalp it and prevent any of the unwanted material from going to seed or thriving. Tossing compostables on it as suggested might help, on the other hand it might stimulate the existing unwanted stuff. But you might try a thick layer of mulch, like bark pellets or pine needles, to keep weeds from sprouting thru. The alternative is RoundUp, which for me is a drastic last recourse.

You might also try one of those wildflower blend mixes appropriate to your area and conditions and try to
crowd out the unwanted stuff, but I've tried that in an area that had lots of wild mustard, etc., with only very limited success.

Good Luck.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 10:20AM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

We've actually used tons and tons of compost back there which the weeds loved. We've tried landscape fabric, mulch, etc. My husband even - without my knowledge - sprayed that total vegetation killer a few years ago. It only killed the stuff I kinda liked.

I think the main problem is the soaking wet spring/fall and dry summer. Also, it's sunny in the spring but as the trees fill in it is more shaded in the summer. I just can't come up with any kind of plant that is versatile enough to live through all those changing conditions!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:20PM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

Have you tried lily of the valley? As much as I hate it when it's near a garden bed of mixed flowers it has it's place and I don't think it's truly an invasive. It's just very vigorous. Also, what about ditch lilies? I like them and don't find them terribly hard to control, but it is pretty hard to kill them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:23PM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

Lily of the valley died and I do have some ditch lillies in the wettest corner but they aren't spreading out. Surprisingly, the one thing that is spreading quite a bit is strawberry plants that were mixed in with some compost a while back. The rabbits love that! I wondered about maybe trying some kind of raspberries? Also I read about a flowering shrub called wild raisin viburnum. Not sure where I'd find that but it's sounds versatile.

Also, by invasive I mean a native plant with a tendency to take over areas. I'm sure I could find some exotic plant to fit the bill but I don't want that. I want the birds and wildlife to be able to enjoy whatever grows there.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 2:04PM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

What was wrong with the goldenrod? I hate it because it wants to grow in the garden beds, but it sounds like just the ticket for a wild place that you want to be somewhat controlled.

If you can find someone who will share, gray dogwood is a possibility, as is winterberry.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:02PM
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Monarda? Aliums? Jerusalem artichokes? Black eyed susans? Shasta Daisies? Asters? Blackberries? Raspberries? All of those should spread in that area.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:35PM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

I don't know if it would work, but I planted one last year and this year I have like 5 or 6 plants-what about solomons seal?

I can't believe lily of the valley died. I can't seem to kill it even when I try, lol.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 8:25AM
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eclecticcottage(6b wny)

Also, what about May Apple? I'm seeing it everywhere now and it came to mind.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 9:07PM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

Thanks for all the suggestions. We do have some Soloman's seal back there and, although it's been very slow, it does spread and fill in thick. I'm thinking I will try more Soloman's seal, some raspberries, and lots of arrowwood viburnum. Hopefully it won't be such an eyesore in the next summer or two ;)

    Bookmark   May 14, 2014 at 11:08PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

Viola sororia (the Common Blue Violet) and its siblings will happily take over the world....

Chances are that you can find it growing wild in older yards or around old homesteads ... or someone in the garden club will trade it for some of your Solomon's Seals, or let you have some for free.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 10:32PM
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tastefullyjulie(Lewiston, NY 6)

Wow, that's great. Have you tried growing it from seed? I also have a raised berm area back there that is all dirt from a new patio area my husband dug out. I was trying to think of an easy shade wildflower seed that I could spread over the top of it. Maybe the violet is the one?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:14AM
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Catmint, obedient plant, ornamental grass, yukka till and compost first. Use wet newspaper thick, to keep weeds down, cover with fresh topsoil.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 9:54PM
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Brown eyed Susan, Globe flower, Columbine, Lily of the Valley, Queen Ann's Lace, Fennel, Daylilies, Dill.....

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:05PM
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davids10 z7a nv.

hesperis and lunaria? biennials but will seed insanely. asters to go with the goldenrod. stachys, panicum virginia. morning glories-picture is hesperis

1 Like    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 10:16PM
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Oedhel Setren

First, these are not weeds, but gifts from nature. Some are edible and delicious. Even though golden rod causes me great amount of distress during pollen season (local raw honey is the best cure for pollen allergies, not kidding) its a gorgeous plant.

What are you trying to accomplish in the end? Do you want to completely remove these weeds, or just create more diversity? I would concentrate on bee/butterfly friendly plants like milk weed. (Here's a great link for the best bee flowers. A good hardy ground cover like thyme can be nice, too. Once established, thyme will do very well in almost any situation.

As stated above, it looks the soil condition is the problem. Composting/manure spreading is recommended. Spend a year piling leaves and grass clippings in that spot. Again, a good ground cover like thyme will mask the dirt since it will only need spots of good soil, but will do a vine cover. Wild morning glories are also wonderful for this, but aren't as hardy. The decaying ground cover from year to year will also greatly improve the quality of soil.

An immediate fix would be gather bits of healthy dirt from other places on the property and create at least an inch or two of fresh topsoil. You could add some seeds to speed growth, but more plants will gradually move in through the first two years.

An out of the box idea would be tear out all of the plants and create some smaller water features, like miniature ponds, to encourage general biodiversity in the area. Planting things like lemon grass around the ponds will cut back on mosquito and are a great culinary herb.

    Bookmark   last Wednesday at 5:52AM
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