When to get started?

Discussion in 'Garden Design' started by vickyc, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. vickyc

    vickyc New Seed

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    I am in Zone 7- eastern North Carolina.

    We will be moving next year and I have some things I want to do around my yard that I haven't gotten around to doing before and also to give my house more curb appeal for when we put it on the market.

    My home faces just south of of due east, so I get several hours of direct sun during the first half of the day, so I already know that I need to do full sun plants.

    I know it is too early in the year to start planting outside, but I would like to go ahead and get the beds and stuff ready. I have a flower bed in front of my porch between the porch and the side walk, that is the only place I have planted in the past. I am planning on making a walkway from the wide walk to the parking pad that sits off the driveway, making a flower bed with shrubs in the yard, and extending the area where the hedges are in front of the widows and planting some smaller things in front of them.

    What I am wondering is what can I do right now is these areas that are currently grass? I was hoping that I could go ahead and dig the soil up, put more dirt in, and lay down weed fabric and then just make cuts in the weed fabric when I am ready to plant.... will that work? I am trying to get as much done right now so that when is finally stays warm, I can just get stuff into the ground and not have to worry about prepping the ground then.

    Thanks!!
    Vicky
     
  2. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Could you share some photos of the areas you plan to work on?

    Getting the planting areas ready now is the way to go, no plants available in the garden centers this time of the year anyway. When you take up the grass, don't remove very much of the soil under it, the beneficial insects and micro-organisms live in the top 5 inches so if you take that off you are left with dead soil. I would just take up what comes up with the grass then dig in some good compost.
    Covering the area with a weed block and some mulch, then cutting holes in it later is how most of us have done a bed or two in the past. ;)

    If you stick with plants native or well adapted to your area that will make maintaining the garden so much easier and save a fortune on pest control and watering.
     
  3. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I'd say start working as soon as you can... weather permitting.
     
  4. vickyc

    vickyc New Seed

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    I'll try to get some pictures up in an hour or so.

    So just start digging? What do I do with what I dig up? Also, its okay to go ahead and put the mulch down now or wait until the plants are in?
     



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  5. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Check with your local trash pickup service to see if they collect yard waste. Some companies or cities, depending on who provides the service, will collect grass clippings, leaves and what you dig up from the yard and make compost from it. Some cities around here give then give the compost back to gardeners who live in their city.

    You could also start your own compost pile.

    Putting the mulch down now will be easier than waiting until the plants are in. When ready to plant just scrape the mulch away from the spot, cut the weed fabric, plant and then spread the mulch back around the plant. It also looks better to have the mulch down during the time you are waiting for local nurseries to begin receiving plants from their growers.
     
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  6. vickyc

    vickyc New Seed

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    Sorry I did not get around to taking pictures while I was out there earlier- my son was starting to be a handful.

    Turns out though that this will be a whole lot harder than I was thinking it would be. Got the flower bed clean out, I still need to put the weed fabric down tomorrow though.

    Our lawn itself is a disaster. Didn't get mowed at the end of the season last year so it is over grown and dried out (and I don't have a lawn mower). So I took the weed eater to where I want to do the path. I tried to dig but the roots are so dense I couldn't get the shovel through.

    HELP!!
     
  7. toni

    toni Mistress of Garden Junque Staff Member Moderator Plants Contributor

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    Find at Home Depot, Sears, Lowe's or other garden center a Spading Fork. http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1260 ... 5000P#desc
    Wood handle and steel tines...not one with fiberglass handles and stainless steel tines.

    I have used one to completely rid our backyard of grass and almost all of the front yard too. Our yards had been home to assorted grasses and weeds for almost 40 years....and we have black clay that is hard as concrete after baking in the sun for a few days.

    A shovel is for digging holes in easy to dig soil, the Spading Fork will work out much better for getting through masses of grass roots, hard clay soil and rocks. It won't be a walk in the park but since you are not working on the whole expanse of the yard it won't be a hopeless job. ;)
     
  8. vickyc

    vickyc New Seed

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    Thanks so much for your recommendation, Toni. I'll see if I can pick one up tomorrow while I am out and about.



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    Path from house to car ( photo / image / picture from vickyc's Garden )





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    From car to house ( photo / image / picture from vickyc's Garden )





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    Where I want to plant. ( photo / image / picture from vickyc's Garden )





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    Flower bed with snap dragons from last year ( photo / image / picture from vickyc's Garden )





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    ( photo / image / picture from vickyc's Garden )
     
  9. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    Vicky... you said you had a year before selling right?
    Instead of breaking your back digging out the grass for the path to the car why not kill the grass?
    Lay down some cardboard where you want the path. Then cover it with some bark chip mulch. I wouldn't suggest using rocks, though, because you'd have to eventually rake them out of your lawn.
    With the cardboard/mulch, you'd be able to immediately use the path. And before you know it, the grass will be smothered out and then you can easily put down concrete pads, pavers or flagstone.
    It works great for new flower beds.... I don't see why it wouldn't work for a path.
     
  10. vickyc

    vickyc New Seed

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    How long does the cardboard take to work?
     
  11. cherylad

    cherylad Countess of Cute-ification Plants Contributor

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    I'd say at least a month or two... depending on your climate and rain, etc.
    There was someone here last year that posted about making a pathway with this method.
    I sure wish I could remember who. I'll try a search and see if I can find it.

    That was easy. It was Jewell.. and she's still an active member.
    Here's a link to her post. Maybe send her a Private Message and she could answer more questions?

    http://www.gardenstew.com/about22299.html
     
  12. carolyn

    carolyn Strong Ash

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    Vicky, Cardboard or newspaper is a great and easy way to smother the grass. I go to the appliance store and get refrigerator and appliance boxes out of the dumpster (to use in my garden). Cut it (if you need to, and use a box cutter for it) to the width you want your path and put the mulch right on top of it. there is no need to worry about how long this will take. The paper will smother the grass and it will not grow through the mulch. The only thing you may need to do is put a border or edge along the path so the mulch doesn't wear away from the path out into the grass. You may also want to put some stepping stones on/in the mulch, especially if you have a small child who may kick the mulch instead of walking on it. (these also encourage him to step from stone to stone).

    This method will work for every bed or area you want to get the grass or weeds out of. You don't have to worry about getting anything in it at any particular time, either. Mulch takes a while to break down.

    Use that hose I saw laying in your lawn to measure the size of bed you plan on. It will give you a great visual for being able to really see where your flower beds are going to be.
     
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