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Starting from Scratch

November 17th, 2015

When a garden bed is overtake with invasive weeds, sometimes you just have to start from scratch. Quackgrass or couch grass, as it’s also called, is a BIG problem here in my garden (here’s a great article about it if you’re interested in learning more). It’s EVERYWHERE and it’s quite a thug when it comes to the gardens. I’ve been working hard over the past 3 years to eradicate it from the edible beds. The pigs were most useful in dealing with it in the large food garden, in other areas I’ve been digging it out by hand.
digging out front flowerbed 2
It’s a problem in the edible and perennial beds because it reduced yields in edible gardens by up to 95% and in ornamental beds it will slowly choke everything else out. The front flowerbed was filled with it when we arrived three years ago, I haven’t done much to deal with it until this fall. Now I’m digging out everything in the bed, saving what I can, but most of the plants have been choked out or are infested with quack grass rhizomes. Luckily, the plants are easy to get if I want to replace any of them, which I don’t think I do.
digging out front flowerbed 5
digging out front flowerbed 4
I have big plans for this space, which is behind the boxwood hedge that I just moved. There’s the new hedge, a 2-3 foot rock wall, then this garden area. My plan is to put a row of ‘Annabelle’ hydrangeas in this space, I’ll probably need 5 of them for the front. On the corner of the house I plan on putting some kind of ornamental tree that I can prune to come out from the house.
digging out front flowerbed 3
digging out front flowerbed 1
It’s a lot of work to dig out entire garden areas, but it’s what needs to be done in cases where invasive weeds have taken over. This weed is also in the lawn in front of the box hedge, I’ll have to start dealing with that next spring so it doesn’t creep back into the beds. Most likely the lawn area will be smothered and reseeded with weed free seed. Sometimes starting from scratch is the easiest way to get to where we want to be.

Do you have any invasive weeds you’re dealing with in your garden?

9 Comments to “Starting from Scratch”
  1. Melanie Gibbons on November 17, 2015 at 7:18 am

    Yes! Mugwort – and it is defeating me. Does anyone here have any suggestions? Most of what I’ve read says only chemicals work, and I’m not willing to go that route. Pulling it only causes it to multiply. It’s driving me crazy :-(

    Reply to Melanie Gibbons's comment

    • Susy on November 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      Does smothering work? I’ve often had good luck smothering with many layers of cardboard for a season or two if it’s a tenacious weed.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Erika on November 17, 2015 at 10:02 am

    I have a bed behind my back patio I will have to do the same thing with. The quack grass, ground ivy, and volunteer lemon balm has made it impossible to keep weed free.
    I also had a huge problem with lily-of-the-valley in a front bed. We had to use the tractor’s scoop to dig up impenetrable mats over 6 feet long. Now the beds look great with their perennials.

    Reply to Erika's comment

  3. Chris on November 17, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    Yup! Quack grass! Seems you can never get rid of it! The Annabelle hydrangeas will be beautiful in that spot. Love your snail :)

    Reply to Chris's comment

  4. Tricia on November 17, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    We just killed and replaced our front lawn this fall because of all the field grass. The back lawn had several patches we just sprayed and will reseed this spring. Hopefully that will take care of the problem. I also have a patch of moss taking over in one of my beds I need to figure out how to manage that. Any tips?

    Reply to Tricia's comment

    • Susy on November 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm

      I don’t really have tips for moss because I usually leave it since I like it.

      Reply to Susy's comment

    • Lenore on November 19, 2015 at 8:52 pm

      Tricia, moss tends to love acidic soil. Spreading garden lime will increase the soil pH and leave the conditions less favorable for moss to grow.

      Reply to Lenore's comment

  5. S on November 17, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    For us it’s bindweed (aka wild morning glory). We have quack grass too but it’s not as insidious. I’ve tried this approach (pulling everything out of a bed and starting over–even with annuals for a few years–and it keeps coming back.

    Reply to S's comment

  6. Nebraska Dave on November 18, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    Susy, my entire Terra Nova Garden area is invasive weeds, vines, and scrub bushes. The worst is bind weed. I deal with it by covering an area with old carpet face down. Then line a raised bed with limestone rocks from walls that have been torn out and rebuilt with retaining blocks. Then I cut out the carpet inside the rock border. A good mix of grass/leaf mulch is used to fill the six or eight inch depth. Next spring I’ll dig that into the soil and fill the bed with a layer of soil on top of the compost/soil mixture. The carpet is better than any weed barrier. It’s the only way I can control weeds with the amount of time that I have to garden.

    Have a great weed eradication day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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