Lets talk about maintenance in the wildlife garden.

christie_sw_mo(Z6)July 24, 2012

You know how something can look good in your mind and then not turn out the way you imagined.

I have a long mixed border (about 120 feet) along the south side of our property that curves around another 40 feet or so along our east property line. The idea was to plant a row of wildlife friendly shrubs (viburnums, dogwoods, etc) with a few smaller shrubs and perennials in front.

Maybe it's just the heat and drought getting to me but I'm discouraged.

I'm struggling to keep invasive stuff out. It's frustrating what sneaks in and goes unnoticed until it's very large and difficult to remove at the base of my shrubs. My berry producing shrubs have been very successful at attracting birds which then land on the shrubs and poop out honeysuckle and other seeds. I get a lot of unwanted trees and pokeweed. I don't have much trouble keeping weeds out of my perennials. I can SEE those. It's the ones that come up under the shrubs unseen that I'm having trouble with. This summer, I have pulled up dozens and dozens of mulberry seedlings and I'm sure I'll miss some. I know from experience that they're almost impossible to kill if you let them go and that worries me.

I'm sure it would've helped to have just kept mulch around the base of the shrubs instead of planting perennials and smaller shrubs right up next to them. I still think the trash trees and other stuff would sneak in though because the shrubs have leaves so close to the ground.

Do you limb up your shrubs to make them easier to weed around? Any advice? I'm starting to wonder if I'll eventually need a bulldozer.

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I also have a couple Hackberry trees that have come up under my viburnums that I need to cut down. They are much taller than me. I don't always have good luck with cutting them back and putting stump killer on the cut part. What brand do you use? Or maybe there's some other trick I don't know.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 7:38AM
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naturelover42(AZ9b Tucson)


I live in Arizona and I actually planted Hackberry trees (Celtis Reticulata)and (Celtis pallida) for berries for birds. Am curious why you want to kill them?

    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 1:13PM
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I wouldn't call hackberry a bad tree at all. I just have them coming up where I don't want them occasionally. It's not the worst reseeding tree in my yard. That award would have to go mulberry or wild black cherry. Hackberry is a very good tree to plant for wildlife. So is black cherry but when they're so plentiful, like they are in my area, you get more volunteers.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:34AM
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I have a wildlife "jungle" of drought-tolerant plants and the trick is to keep it heavily mulched, and run an monthly patrol looking for invaders like seedling mesquites. I try to get to them before they are too big to pull out roots and all.

If a shrub is attracting more then it's share of invaders, limb it up a bit so it's easier to care for.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 2:28PM
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Keep the patrol up. I dispise hackberry, mulberry, pecan, and carolina snail weed. Pecans will be bad next year. We had a bumper crop this year. I go out every morning with trowel and knee pad and try to get the seedlings when they are small.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2012 at 12:37AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Several of my planting areas are under a huge oak tree that drops millions of acorns every year and I'm constantly pulling the sprouts. Haven't found a thickness of mulch/leaves yet that will prevent this, aside from just burying the plants. I do try to keep a bit of space around something like a knockout rose so I can reach in to pull sprouts, which is necessary to do often, weekly, so nothing becomes an infestation or too well-rooted to come out.

You may want to use an organic smother layer (that can be left in place to decompose) wherever there's space. Just don't let stuff drop ripe seeds and you'll stay ahead of the curve, except those darn tree sprouts. IME, tree sprouts are the most constant and prolific weed of most gardens, and pulling them often is just a requirement if you don't want your beds to quickly turn into a young forest. A tree doesn't need to be invasive or 'trash' to bless you with a million sprouts.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2012 at 10:53AM
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