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#98227 February 20th, 2007 at 05:44 PM
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I'm not even sure what information to include, but here goes.

Basically, we purchased this house last year and moved in around April. The lady who lived here before me told me that the flower beds were low to no maintenence (ha!) and that she had planted lots of perennials. Well, the "LOTS" part was true! By the end of the summer not only did I have tangles of foliage overrunning everything, but there were weeds almost 5 feet tall and 3 feet wide coming up through them as well. It was a disaster!!!

The problem lies in that I am not super-familiar with most of the plants she had and how or when to transplant them once I *do* recognize them!

I was thinking of moving MOST of the hostas to the shadier beds since the sunny ones are so crowded. When is a good time to split them??

Also, how can I be sure I'm not digging up other things when I do this?? I really like the sedum and the bleeding hearts that are in there and don't want to kill them if I can help it.

This is what is in ONE of the beds that gets late sunshine (3pm and later): lilac bushes that are HUGE in the back of it, a rosebush that did NOTHING last year, but is huge and sprawling over top of everything, a few big clumps of pink peonies near the back,lots and lots of sedum (some of it got tall and bloomed and some of it just sprawled out over the edging with foliage), bleeding hearts, tulips, irises, hostas (several kinds), violets,lily of the valley, and some mums. It is all mushed in together and you can't see much of it for the weeds and the mounds of foliage. I need advice on HOW and WHEN to thin it out!

In bed #2 (the front of it is full sun, the back of it is mostly shade): big ferns, some big ivy, what looks like some vinca, various other tangles of ground covers, a small rosebush (or should I say "stick") that didn't do anything last year, some tall (3 ft?) daisy-like thing with tiny flowers that might be a weed stuck in the middle of it all! This one is pretty packed in too, but mostly needs some arranging- tall things in front and short things are in the back now.. it's a weird layout. I would like to move the ivy out completely, but it looks like it runs under EVERYTHING.

(Gulp!) Help???
I want to be prepared when the snow melts. Last year I waited and didn't do anything because I'm still figuring out what is weed and what is flower! Unfortunately, most of it was weed and by the time I realized, it was too late!!

'Manda

#98228 February 20th, 2007 at 07:45 PM
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All I know is....I'm gonna pray for ya !
"Gulp" is right !
You must have that "I don't know where to start" feeling.
All I can offer is emotional support, LOL !
I'm primarily a container gardener.
Betcha the landscape folks will rush in here soon to help !

#98229 February 20th, 2007 at 08:52 PM
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Here is what it looked like... before it got REALLY
crazy! perpl
The white garden bench plopped in the middle has no path to it or anything.. looks like she used it to wind some of the roses up through like a trellis. It's crazy, I tell ya!
[Linked Image]

#98230 February 20th, 2007 at 10:36 PM
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first off, take a deep breath!!

second, you don't have to get everything orderly and organized and moved all at once!!

(i can hear you saying 'phew, thank goodness for that! laugh )

depending on how large the areas are (and how over-packed they are) it's probably going to take two seasons to get things in order.

ha! i've been working on my beds for 7 years now and i'm STILL not done!!

the lilac should be trimmed back AFTER it blooms this spring. you'll need to look at it and only trim back to the new nodes that have formed as they will be your blooms for next year.

another option is to do a more severe trimming so that you can get that bed in better order - you'll not have any blooms for a year tho, if you do that. you can do that this spring - before it blooms or wait until after. if you want to go a year without blooms, that is. it would make it easier to work in that bed tho.

when it comes to moving things - i find it's best to wait until they've started to grow back again - then i can be sure to not mess with something that i don't want to damage/lose!

peony shouldn't be moved - if you really need/want to move them, do it in the fall and make sure to replant at the same depth as they were previously (make sure the 'eyes' are facing up). also, they don't usually bloom for a few years after being moved.

tulips are early bloomers - i moved some of mine in late summer (when they still had some of the leaves attached - made it easy to locate the bulbs). i'll see this spring if that worked okay. i think it's usually best to move them in the fall tho. smile i'll let ya know how mine did!

what kind of iris? bearded or siberian? i have bearded and i split them out in late spring/early summer and they bloomed again for me. siberian type i know nothing about.

whatever is around the rose stick Duh

hope this helps some!!

#98231 February 20th, 2007 at 10:41 PM
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hehe, i answered your post in between doing other things...

just saw the pic. looks like NOTHING has been done with that area for YEARS!!!

i would really take things slowly. it's SO easy to go overboard and try to get too much accomplished at once!

for that area, i'd focus on splitting and moving some of the hosta. then worry about what's behind the bench later on. that's a lot of hosta!!

is that a rose growing up through the bench?? you can trim it back and remove the bench. you can take the rose down to about 2 feet tall and it'll just grow back. do that around the beginning of march - before the new growth starts. if you miss the opportunity, you can prune it back in the fall.

#98232 February 20th, 2007 at 11:47 PM
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Whew!! Okay, more questions now that some of that is clearer!! THANK YOU!!

First off, how much space should I leave when I split up the hostas? They *ARE* pretty huge!

That bed that I pictured is a good 3 or more feet deep and part of my problem is that I can't reach to the back of it and I don't particularly want to step into it and crush anything either! So I'm not sure what to do about spacing things.

I'll definitely trim back the roses, maybe even move them- they don't get much sun there and I imagine they are starving for nutrients since that bed has so much else going on.

There is a thin layer of that bright red, wood mulch on top of it right now. Should I just put some compost on the top or would this bury things too deep??

I don't know what kind of irises they are- they were purplish-white and not very pretty- they looked shrively and half dead to me last spring when they bloomed!

I won't be moving the peonies. They are fine right there and since they have that wall, they gets lots of support since I can tie them to the wall AND they have a cage around them. I didn't think about trimming the lilacs but I will research that more when the time comes- thanks!

Oh, I forgot to mention:
There was also poison ivy growing through the lilacs last year, along with some sort of grapevine. It's quite a tangle. I'll have to post about this too- I'm very allergic and can't figure out how to get rid it. I can't use any sort of traditional weed killers either because we are on a lake and I don't want to hurt the wildlife.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for the advice so far!!
'Manda

#98233 February 21st, 2007 at 05:46 AM
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as you remove the hosta, you can create pathways so you have access to the areas in the back of the bed...either leave them mulch-covered or you can put in little stepping stones. something as small/unobtrusive as a brick (just to have something other than a plant to step on and it won't be too noticable) or you can go more dramatic and get some real pavers and make actual little pathways.

i've seen some nice stepping stones in home depot and lowes...they're round or square and they're made to look like stone embedded in concrete - it's some kind of recycled tires or other rubber material. pretty cool! and they look real too!!

for spacing on the hosta's, i'd use the leaf length as a general guide - space them far enough apart so that the leaf tips are just overlapping. should give them plenty of room for new growth. definitely mulch the areas in between to keep stray weeds in check.

if you put them a little closer together, you'll get better coverage over the soil and that will help keep the weeds down (with or without mulch - i'd still put some down, tho). and they'll still have room to grow out a bit.

you might want to just trim back the over-growth and let the rose get more air circulation (they DO need that) and see how it does over the season. you might be surprised! there are some roses that do better in part shade (my neighbor has a couple). and it definitely sounds like it's choked right now (i transplanted some roses from a neighbors yard a couple of years ago - the bed was totally overgrown by weeds...kept finding more roses as i was going through the weeds to see what else was under there!! they've all done tremendously well since i moved them!)


the bright red mulch (probably cedar) can be moved aside so that you can add the compost. you can replace the mulch after you get the soil amended. is the red stuff around the roses? that might be why they aren't growing too well. personally, i like licorice root mulch. it keeps it's color and doesn't block the water too much from getting into the soil. and it does compost nicely (i don't think that red stuff breaks down at all - not sure tho).

if the iris looks like this, then it's the bearded type:

[Linked Image]

if it looks like this one, then it's the siberian type:

http://home.pacbell.net/kenww/bbg_iris/bbg_siberian/BBG_I_sanguinea-lrg.jpg

regardless, if they're overcrowded they're not going to bloom as well or have as nice a flower as they normally would.

splitting them out will help. the bearded are rhizomes - very easy to break apart and then just replant at the same depth. the siberian are bulbs - i don't have that kind, so i don't know if you can break the bulbs apart or if they just propogate from seeds. regardless of the type, if they're over crowded they need to be split.

for all the bulbs/rhizomes i'd put in some bulb food (i use a pellet type) to give them a boost. you can do that when replanting - just put a teaspoonful in the hole and gently mix with the soil and then cover with a layer of soil and then put the bulb in. i also put another little bit around the area at the top of the soil level, too.

if you have bulbs you aren't going to be moving, just work the pellets into the soil over the general area where the bulbs are - watering/rain will get the nutrients down through the soil to the bulbs.

the poison ivy will be difficult to remove if you can't/don't want to use something to kill it.

i'm not allergic to it. even so, i take precautions when dealing with it (it's in my neighbors yard and does grow through every now and again).

i wear long sleeves and gloves and long pants unless i have something to kneel on. as much as i hate to do it, i use gasoline to kill it. just a couple (or a few if it's a larger plant) of tablespoons applied directly to the roots. that's important!! you must get it on the roots if you want to kill the plant.

after treating, i let it sit for a couple of days - until the gas is taken up into the plant and it dies - depending on the size of the plant that can take up to about 5 days.

then i put on the long sleeves and gloves again and carefully pull the stuff up...even with the gloves on, i still use a plastic bag to actually handle the plant and then i put it right into a trashbag and seal it up when i'm done.

the thing with poison ivy is that the plant gives off an oil and that can transfer to anything - clothing, animals, other plants. all you need to do is brush against it to release the oils. and it doesn't dry up...so it's very, very easy to spread the oil and not even know it. anything that i am wearing when dealing with the p-ivy gets taken off as soon as i'm done and is cleaned seperately from my other clothing.

other than gasoline/diesel i don't know of anything that actually will kill the p-ivy.

the grapvine thing may be wild grapes or it may be an invasive vine that looks similar. either way, that one should be easy enough to pull up. it does grow underground, so use the same technique as with the regular ivy - moisten the soil beforehand to make it easier.

#98234 February 21st, 2007 at 07:50 AM
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Manda, it sure sounds like you've got your work cut out for you! eek It's going to take a lot of work, but I'm sure it will be worth every minute of it. wink Just don't try to tackle too much at one time. frown Your flowers look really healthy and you've got such a wide assortment to work with. thumbup I hope you're going to keep up posted with pictures of your progress and all your flowers. wink

#98235 February 21st, 2007 at 04:46 PM
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I will definitely keep you posted. I can't wait to get out there and start on it, now that I've had MONTHS to sit here and think about it!

First on my agenda is to remove that bench. I might replace it with something else decorative, but I think it's silly to have it sitting there when you can't sit on it! I can better use it on the patio or in another part of the yard.

I'm definitely going to see how to better take care of that rose too- I've had pretty roses in the past, so I think I can nurture it to a better state than it's in now, for sure!! I want to pull back that mulch and add some compost for one thing. I'm not sure there is any help for the rose "stick" in the front yard, but it's worth a try before I give up on it!

I also think if I start with splitting the hostas and getting some of that sedum moved as well, it will clear it out enough for me to see what all is hiding in there and plan what to do next.

I don't feel nearly as overwhelmed now, thanks to you! sca

#98236 February 21st, 2007 at 06:31 PM
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i'm glad that you don't feel as overwhelmed as you did to start with!!!

as patti said, you must post some pics - befores and afters!!!

#98237 February 21st, 2007 at 06:51 PM
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Hi there. I just thought I'd toss in my two cents. Here's some good info on dividing hostas Bob\'s Hosta Growing Tips. The info about dividing is towards the bottom of the page.

Although your garden looks like a jungle, you've got some beautiful plants in there, just waiting to be liberated. I'm so jealous of the plants but not the work! lol. Keep us posted!

Sarah

#98238 February 21st, 2007 at 11:48 PM
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sarah, that's a TERRIFIC site!!! thanks for posting the link!

#98239 February 22nd, 2007 at 12:30 AM
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Sarah, what a wonderful link. kissies


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