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What to do for ground cover . . .

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2005
by Carly on August 05, 2005 11:20 AM
Here's my problem - a big lot, 5 different sections - as you know I've been doing a lot on it - little gardening beds in shapes, etc. A lot of weed transplanting goes on with me, 'cause I don't see buying good plants as an option, especially in light of the drought we just went through.

I prefer to follow the natural course of this land - acidic with pines, some austrian - some maple on the north part, some scrub maple (a lotta' scrub trees, I could live without), and a lotta' weeds too.

A lot of clay in the soil.

Rain and any other nutrients are (I suspect) sucked up by the trees. The only things that really do well are the weeds.

I've been cleaning - I have ended up with some big bald patches.

For instance? The middle lot . . . some grass, that I'm sure is mostly scrub growth - that lumpy stuff.

This is what I think I should do:

1) Keep weeding, transplanting what are truly wild plants and grow into nice ground cover;

2) In the fall get some topsoil and rake it over - tilling is out of the question - there's too many roots sticking up out of the ground;

3) Get some seed and spread it over the topsoil;

4) Water it well, then let the gawd-fearin' leaves fall on it;

5) Hold off raking the leaves till November when it's all fallen.

I think this will bring grass for next spring - but . . . but, but, but . . . I would truly like to forget about grass. I'll tell you why . . .

I don't really consider this as being 'grasslands'. I don't really think this land should be lawn. I think of this lot as a 'woodland'. And a woodland doesn't look like 'grounds' on an estate - it looks like a place with trees and natural wild growth.

But I need something - something other than big patches of dust.

I'd like to plant clover! Why? 'Cause I like clover - it's green, it's lush and it's just so pretty.

Am I right in thinking this?

Any other ideas? Like some kind of seed that will bring me good ground cover - bugleweed, something like that?

Or should I just keep following my gut instinct, keep right on collecting flat stones from the lakeshore and making the places where I have to get green going, smaller and smaller.

Should I make a proposal to the landlord (who is Jeff's employer, he being the Superintendent/Manager). Should I start getting quotes from landscapers and let somebody else do it?

You know how I'll be if I do that - I'll be at the front window jealously looking on as the work progresses.

We might not even be here by next spring - we're hoping for a chance to move on somewhere - a place where we can have more freedom to get away together.

But still - I care about this lot - it's fallen into my hands and it's mine.

Oh, I'm so torn. If I came into a boodle of money I'd hold the old lady who owns it hostage till she sold it to me.

Jeff would want an immediate divorce, but I could console myself by looking at all my clover.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 05, 2005 11:27 AM
Maybe I'll go get about 10 bags of wild flower seeds, lay them out on a tray, then whistle . . . heh! heh!

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by MaryReboakly on August 06, 2005 01:16 AM
Hey Carly,

I kinda like the wildflower idea [Wink] but you could also try planting some vinca or phlox (though I'm not sure if phlox are hardy in your zone) - both are creepers and tolerate clay soil.

And for cripes sakes - don't ask for landscapers - you know you wouldn't be happy with that solution! [Wink]

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by rue anemone on August 06, 2005 02:06 AM
You don't need to rake your woodland area. By raking you are taking away all the nutrients from the broken down leaves, that in nature would return to the soil. Leaves are also a great mulch for your plants.

In some areas vinca can be considered invasive. Invasives in our area are ivy and euyonmous.

Dry woodland shade: Epimedium, wild phlox and wild ginger are great. If you have a bit more moisture: hostas and astilbes are good.

No need to till. Here is what I do every time I plant something. I dig the hole bigger than needed for the plant. Add peat moss and sand to the hole digging and redigging until I can plant with out a shovel just my hand.

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by rue anemone on August 06, 2005 02:17 AM
Have you ever been to this place?

They might be able to help you.

http://www.wildflowerfarm.com/

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by Carly on August 07, 2005 08:47 AM
OK, thanks all.

Yes, I think you're right - I shouldn't be raking it clean, I guess.

I just have this obsession for order, I guess and I Mother Nature should be telling me to mind my own business.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 07, 2005 08:55 AM
Vinca likes full sun, I see from this site here - so that's out . . .

http://www.richfarmgarden.com/vinca.html

Phlox needs partial sun, partial shade - I might try it, but it also needs rich soil, so I'd have to put more soil on.

There's a house down the road here who has some kind of deep red groundcover sprawling over the sidewalk every year. I don't see the mess yet - maybe I'll wait till I do. Then I'll tap on the door and ask if I could trim it for them, for the price of taking home the thinnings.

I think that might do me.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 07, 2005 08:58 AM
I put a cyclamen in there today - kept it in its pot.

Here's the picture (which is on the gardeners' chat forum) to give you an idea of what I'm talking about . . .

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 07, 2005 08:59 AM
The bottom part of the picture is on the south lot.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by rue anemone on August 08, 2005 02:25 AM
Oh, I was thinking of the vinca - myrtle that is perennial, Vinca minor. The annual vinca is Catharanthus roseus and does require sun.

The cyclamen you planted is beautiful. I love those leaves. Epimedium would compliment the cyclamen nicely.

http://home.earthlink.net/~darrellpro/

There is a sedum ternatum that is native to the North America. It likes shade and has a pretty white flower. Check it out:

http://2bnthewild.com/plants/H117.htm

Very nice brick sidewalk.

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by Carly on August 08, 2005 11:16 AM
OK - but I don't know where I'm going to get that right now - I'll keep the name in mind - it looks nice.

What do you think of white clover?

I know I love the stuff - don't worry about it being invasive - there's nothing to invade really - ha ha!

I only have a few pieces growing wild on the lot, but I know of several places around here where I can go pluck it.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 08, 2005 11:18 AM
There are two walks like it. We put them in when the fire department demanded an extra one be made to accommodate the hose if it needs to be brought through.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 08, 2005 11:20 AM
Here's three pics of the middle lot . . . one of them should show the two walks:

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It's a lot more interesting now - those were in the spring, I think.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by Carly on August 09, 2005 11:27 PM
I have a lot of stonecrop - I put some of that in there.

There's all kinds of scrap stuff growing on the edges of sidewalks around here, so I'll just keep snooping around.

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.
by rue anemone on August 10, 2005 02:56 AM
We don't treat our lawn so I can have my clover and violets.

Would you mix it in with the grass? I have never noticed does clover die back in the winter?

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by Carly on August 13, 2005 08:59 AM
No, clover's always there. We have a lot and I take pieces and plant them where I want 'em.

But rather than throw grass seed, I'd prefer clover. It makes more green and it's thicker.

I like white clover - the big leaved stuff.

I also like the wild violet - it's just starting to show up. I found some on the front scrub by the sidewalk. I'm going hunting for it in the rain tomorrow.

It's so nice to have this rain - it drizzled all day and every plant - both wild and cultivated - are standing up expectantly.

When it thunders they really look good - I have a friend who says it's 'cause the plants dig their feet in deeper when it rains - ha ha!

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When sorting seeds, do not whistle.

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