Garden Gnome: How to expand your gardening area

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If your gardening adventure is being curtailed by another member of the household who insists on having grass, take a good look around for other areas to conquer.

If your gardening adventure is being curtailed by another member of the household who insists on having grass, take a good look around for other areas to conquer.  Sandy Hodson/Staff
Sandy Hodson/Staff
If your gardening adventure is being curtailed by another member of the household who insists on having grass, take a good look around for other areas to conquer.

For example, between our backyard and the neighbor’s backyard to the west is an ugly line of nandinas, dreadful Carolina cherries, English ivy and monkey grass. Even worse are those awful sticker vines weaving between everything to create a garden of evil.

Since this mess also tries to bully its way into my poor flower bed, I’ve decided the ugly line of trash plants must go. In its place I want to put in large hydrangeas and a few snowball bushes to become the back border for the current bed. Because years of fallen leaves have been left in this area, the soil is in great shape.

All I have to do is clear out all the unwanted plants. If you find yourself with a large area to clear, there are several options:

Nonselective herbicides can be used to kill off all vegetation. It requires a good bit of care to ensure none of it blows onto wanted plants, and it can also harm insects and other backyard visitors.

Another method is to cut down all the plants as close to ground as possible, cover the area with cardboard or eight or more layers of newspaper, and then cover the paper with three to five inches of mulch. In several months the area should be ready to plant.

There’s always brute force – dig and pull up the offending plants.

I will probably go the hard way because I’m impatient and uncomfortable with the prospect of using herbicide over such a large area.

It’s probably going to take the rest of the summer, but the hydrangeas and ferns from the recent McCorkle Nurseries’ giant plant sale will do better if I wait until fall, anyway.

Whichever way you go, consider adding a pre-emergence herbicide to the area once you’re done.

Weed seeds love a newly cleared area and will move in before, during and after you add those prized plants.


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