Prepare for weed management—A rustic perennial bed in the country

When setting out to manage flower bed weeds in a rural area, one must always think ahead. Lots of surrounding pasture land makes for lots of weeds and weed seeds. Here in the southeast U.S. (Rome, Georgia) I think the most difficult weed is Bermuda grass which creeps on underground stems and cannot be controlled by pulling.  I always say, “the more you pull the more you get.”

It was not stated in any exact words but I was hired by one of my clients to make sense of a large yard for a wonderful couple who dearly love growing all kinds of plants. I have been working on the project one or two days a week for almost a year now.  Things are beginning to work out.

One of the projects I was asked to deal with was a large bed with over a thousand day lily and iris plants that were totally hidden by weeds and would not perform. Last year it looked something like this:

Day lilies planted without regard to weed control perform poorly.

Day lilies planted without regard to weed control perform poorly.

I watched the bed and thought about it. Every time I went to the farm I walked up and down the bed thinking about it. As the year progressed into winter most of the weeds and day lilies died back for a spell.

The first part of February I said, “It is time.” The weeds were dead and the day lilies were poking their heads out of the soil enough for us to find them. It took some time but we dug up a lot of the day lily and iris plants carefully removing all of the weeds and dirt from the roots. I had a truck load of my favorite compost delivered by Mike the dirt man. Over the years I have gathered a small mountain of flower pots—well, at least a foot hill worth of them—so we took a truck load of pots and used the compost to plant the carefully cleaned iris and day lilies.

We laid the plants out on black plastic and I spread a granular pre-emergent herbicide to stop seeds from germinating. The pots looked like this in May:

day lily and iris plants cleaned and ready to plant in the garden

day lily and iris plants cleaned and ready to plant in the garden

The vegetable garden on the property is rather large and has a fence all the way around it. I decided to install a part of the new flower bed along the fence. This would give us a background for the flower bed and would also end the necessity for weed-eating the garden border. I marked the flower bed with my paint gun, put down a pre-emergent, and started spraying.

The weeds were about gone in April but the Bermuda grass was just beginning to grow. I knew better than to plant the garden until I had dealt with that problem. Bermuda grass loves heat and the season was slow to heat up. It was probably about the middle of June before I was satisfied that I had the dreaded Bermuda grass under control. The weed-free dirt looked like this:

The weeds and especially the Bermuda grass are under control and the bed is ready to be planted.

The weeds and especially the Bermuda grass are under control and the bed is ready to be planted.

As far as the dirt in this garden is concerned, I believe that it is alluvial topsoil deposited a million years ago by the CoosaRiver and it is very nice to dig and plant in. In March we installed a very simple irrigation system along the fence line.

I decided that since the plants were potted in compost, all I had to do was add some time release fertilizer as we planted. I laid the plants out carefully so that they were spaced just right.

The plants are arranged carefully and ready to be planted exactly where they sit.

The plants are arranged carefully and ready to be planted exactly where they sit.

After a few hours of cheerful work, the plants were in the ground. All we have to do now is pick up the pots and mulch the bed with wood chips which I will hopefully obtain from my tree surgeon friend. I will then have to keep the border of the bed sprayed to keep the Bermuda grass from creeping in and check regularly for new weeds, getting them out before they get a good start.

 

iris and day lilies planted in a weed-free flower bed.

iris and day lilies planted in a weed-free flower bed.

I think next year we will intersperse a planting of oriental lilies in the bed. That will be nice.

Another project on this same property is the “country formal” cutting garden that is designed for easy maintenance—especially weed control. To see it, click on Country formal cutting garden

An update on the “country formal” cutting garden is here

Planting tulips in the “country formal” garden click here

Thanks for visiting johntheplantman.

As usual, I would just love for you click here to go to Amazon and purchase the ebook edition of my wonderful book, Requiem for a Redneck to go on your Kindle. I have also noticed that Amazon now has a free Kindle app for iphones and tablets. Is that cool or what?

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