Help! Yard is full of weeds, vines, tree stumps

benjohnson(5)July 5, 2010

My wife and I moved into a new house a couple of months ago and we're at a total loss of what to do with the 3/4 acre yard. We've had so much to do inside the house that we haven't tried tackling the outside. My wife poked around in it today and it seems like every single 'weed' is an enormous vine that stretches out forever. Plus there are small tree stumps cut close to the ground with big root systems - so it seems like nothing can even be simply pulled. Can anyone give me a place to start? I'd prefer to not do dump a bunch of chemicals on it to get rid of everything - but I don't know what other options might be. Any help you can offer would be most appreciated.

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First thing is to identify what you have. Go to the library to see what they have for common plants. If they have nothing go to a bookstore and look thru the books to see if you can identifiy you plants.

If all you have are tree stumps and not stumps with sprouts attached they should eventually decay. You may have to do manual labor and dig around the stumps, cut through any roots then remove.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2010 at 9:02PM
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You could post pictures of your weeds and whatnot on the Name That Plant forum, they can at least tell you what you have and you can google from there.

My personal advice would be to use the right tool for the job and get the best tools you can. Good luck.

Here is a link that might be useful: Name That Plant!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 9:48AM
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After you find out what they are, get a chipper. Chip all the undesirables for mulch and compost materials for your new yard.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2010 at 12:39PM
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Even simpler then searching for ids of the vines is to place some leaf samples in a sealable plastic bag and take those to your county office of your state universities Cooperative Extension Service. they can also advise you an good, and environmentally safe, means of control.
A method of encouraging faster digestion of those stumps is to either drill several holes (depending on the size) in them and fill those with a high Nitrogen source (blood meal is one) or bury them under some compost.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2010 at 7:32AM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Watch out chipping weeds. You could create a situation where you end up spreading the weeds. If you compost them, you'll need to be sure the pile gets hot enough to kill the seeds.

Also, if you aren't ready to plant the area (big $$$), I would mow before the weeds flower and set seeds. Just keep them from going to seed until you can plant what you do want there. I made the mistake of clearing our half acre and now am spending my entire summer clearing weeds in the lower part of the backyard by hand-too much for spraying. Feeling a little grumpy, I'm afraid.

Good luck. I'll bet it will be wonderful once you decide what you want!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2010 at 1:46PM
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Here's what I have: LOTS of poke plant. Common cocklebur, dandelion, lambs ear, some poison ivy. Ferns and wild ginger also seem to be doing well. Is this just a matter of pulling them up as they grow or is there something more intensive? I don't need all of it to be lawn - some will be grass or garden, but I'd rather have plants of my choice growing - and these things are 8 feet tall!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 2:18PM
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Let me first state that I envy you the ferns and ginger. Then give you a few suggestions. Pull up the cockleburs now before the seeds mature. Spot treat the poison ivy as it begins to go dormant. Treating then tends to pull the poison into the plant. From my experience you may have to apply every year for a while. Since I love seeing the birds eat the poke seeds I wimper when I think of killing adult plants but I would look for the small seedling that are currently up and pull them. Poke plants can be cut down but they are turning woody right now so if you are going to cut now is the time.

Unless the vines are poison ivy they are probably Virgina creeper and wild grape vine. Unless you feel you must do something right now I would wait until leaf drop. Then cut the vines back to the parent plant. This should give some open area. Next spring as the plants are sending out new shoots hit them with poison.

One of the most important things is to contact your neighbors to see if they remember what the previous owners had in the areas that you are wanting to clear. You might find out that there is a well tilled garden somewhere in the mess that with a little amending will work wonders rather than you working on a new spot then finding out.

As you may see from other postings I plant for the birds and animals and only use poisons for only a few things when necessary. But please check the sprays to see what they will kill before using them. I denuded large patches of hubby's grass using what I thought was a broad leaf killer as he reminds me when I start pulling out the sprays.

Enjoy deciding on what to do with your area.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2010 at 8:05PM
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The poison ivy will need due care when removing it, and it will need to be bagged and discarded in the trash, it is not something to compost or otherwise use again. The rest can be mulch mowed, fairly frequently, to be kept under control.
If the area is to be used as a garden then you need to learn more about the soil and what it needs. Start by contacting your state universities Cooperative Extension Service about having a good, reliable soil test doen so you know what your soils pH and current nutrient levels are and also dig in wioth these simple soil tests,
1) Structure. From that soil sample put enough of the rest to make a 4 inch level in a clear 1 quart jar, with a tight fitting lid. Fill that jar with water and replace the lid, tightly. Shake the jar vigorously and then let it stand for 24 hours. Your soil will settle out according to soil particle size and weight. A good loam will have about 1-3/4 inch (about 45%) of sand on the bottom. about 1 inch (about 25%) of silt next, about 1 inch (25%) of clay above that, and about 1/4 inch (about 5%) of organic matter on the top.

2) Drainage. Dig a hole 1 foot square and 1 foot deep and fill that with water. After that water drains away refill the hole with more water and time how long it takes that to drain away. Anything less than 2 hours and your soil drains too quickly and needs more organic matter to slow that drainage down. Anything over 6 hours and the soil drains too slowly and needs lots of organic matter to speed it up.

3) Tilth. Take a handful of your slightly damp soil and squeeze it tightly. When the pressure is released the soil should hold together in that clump, but when poked with a finger that clump should fall apart.

4) Smell. What does your soil smell like? A pleasant, rich earthy odor? Putrid, offensive, repugnant odor? The more organic matter in your soil the more active the soil bacteria will be and the nicer your soil will smell.

5) Life. How many earthworms per shovel full were there? 5 or more indicates a pretty healthy soil. Fewer than 5, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, indicates a soil that is not healthy.

to see what else that soil might need.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2010 at 7:48AM
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