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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Killing weeds in the landscape garden

A weed is defined as a plant that is in the wrong place. Pulling weeds in the garden can be a wonderful Zen-like experience but sometimes the job transcends meditation and it becomes time to spray.

Kill Virginia creeper with Roundup

If one is careful, weeds may be removed from the garden by spraying

I am often asked if spraying weeds in the garden will kill the desirable plants.  My answer is, “Not if you are careful.”  Here are some tips and techniques:

Equipment: I like to use a one gallon pump sprayer.  There are a lot of different pump sprayers on the market but this is the easiest one for me to handle.  Always make sure that the sprayer has an adjustable nozzle.

one gallon pump sprayer

I find the one gallon pump sprayer the easiest to use overall.

For smaller applications a hand-held trigger sprayer may be used. Trigger sprayers are available at a hardware store and they are cheap.

Using a trigger sprayer with Image to kill nut grass.

Using a trigger sprayer with Image to kill nut grass.

The number one chemical for spraying weeds is Roundup.  This chemical is available in a number of concentrations but for the best buy, look at the label and find the product that contains 43% glyphosphate.  Since the patent for the chemical has become public domain, there are a lot of different names to purchase this chemical under.  Ask a nurseryman.

label for glyphosphate--a widely used weed killer

label for glyphosphate–a widely used weed killer

Read the label and observe the precautions. Mix the chemical as directed.

If you plan to spray large areas, you will want to set the nozzle on the pump sprayer to an open spray pattern.  The adjustment is found by tightening and loosening the brass (sometimes plastic) nozzle at the end of the spray wand.  For close work in the garden, I like to set the spray pattern to a jet stream like one would get with a child’s water pistol.

When killing weeds, the sprayer nozzle may be adjusted to different patterns.

When killing weeds, the sprayer nozzle may be adjusted to different patterns.

With the nozzle set properly I can walk around the garden and spray the undesirable vegetation without harming my pretty flowers and shrubs.  Sometimes, if things are really close, I will place a piece of cardboard between the weeds and the good stuff.

By being careful, one may  kill the weeds without hurting the flowers.

By being careful, one may kill the weeds without hurting the flowers.

When dealing with weeds that grow as vines, I have found that pulling them is counter-productive.  What shows up as a green vine on top of the ground is usually also a brown vine beneath the ground. If you pull off the top, the underground part will branch out and send up even more shoots than you have pulled.  It is much better to spray the vine.

If the vine is growing in desirable vegetation, I like to unwind some of the tips and lay them out on the ground or where I won’t get the chemical on the desirable plants. Then I spray the tips and green growth.

Lay a vine out from desirable material and spray the foliage.

Lay a vine out from desirable material and spray the foliage.

Nut grass can be a problem in the garden because the more you pull the more you get.

Nut grass is hard to eradicate.  The more you pull the more you get.

Nut grass is hard to eradicate. The more you pull the more you get.

Roundup won’t touch nut grass but another chemical will. Image, if used properly, will kill the nut grass in your lawn without harming the grass.

Image--A specific chemical for getting rid of nut grass


Image–A specific chemical for getting rid of nut grass

Always remember to be careful when using these chemicals. Read the label and follow instructions. Clean up and store chemicals properly.

Thanks for visiting John the Plant Man

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?

A new garden style? Call it “Country Formal”

I really don’t know what we will call this garden, but I’m sure something will present itself as time goes by. The garden is out in the country and the main problem is weed control. The invasive grasses that invade with underground stolons are the worst. They are hard to control because if you pull them they get worse. We will prevail, though, through good design and maintenance. I started with a scaled drawing

For something really special, I always use a scaled drawing

For something really special, I always use a scaled drawing

We will have a pretty formal looking brick lined garden in the center of the project. This garden is designed to be low maintenance, meditative, interactive, and visually pleasing. The raised beds will be bordered by a “no grow” zone for the control of invasive weeds. The floor of this zone will be river gravel and the plantings will be in containers. I can think of all sorts of benefits that will present themselves with this idea. Irrigation will be through drip tubes and regulated with a clock. We start with a stake in the center of the garden to use as a pivot point.

using a stake and a nail as a pivot point

using a stake and a nail as a pivot point

I love my ‘pistola de pentura’ (paint gun). I can tie one end of a string to the stake in the center of the garden and another to the paint gun. An accurate 30 foot circle can then be drawn just like we did it in grammar school.

Using inverted marking paint to put the design on the ground

Using inverted marking paint to put the design on the ground

We begin installing the bricks keeping in mind that we will add four inches of compost on the inside and three inches of cypress mulch to the pathways.

installing the border

installing the border

One of the good things about building country style is that “you can’t mess up country style.” One of the hard things is that when you run into a problem, there are no guidelines or rules. We had to think a bit about how to make the center circle stable and visually pleasing.

design problem

design problem

I liked the view of the garden from this corner. We took particular care to design and build around the beautiful eucalyptus tree. I think it will be a wonderful background focal point.

beds and paths prepared

beds and paths prepared

Our next step will be to enhance the perimeter of the garden with an entrance planting and a sitting area in the shade under the magnolia tree. I’m really excited about this project. I hope you are enjoying it, too.

garden from entrance

garden from entrance

Before leaving the job, I stood and looked at this quadrant for a while. I still don’t have the planting design worked out, but I am a man of faith.

Planting area

Planting area

And a Word from Our Sponsor:

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?

If you want a consultation in your yard in N.W. Georgia, send me an email at wherdepony@bellsouth.net

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