Wild weed west – reclaiming an abandoned garden
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May 18, 2009 at 11:00 am #28833
The first thing I would do honestly is to find the most knowledgeable person you know about plants, and cajole them to come out and take a look. Promise them a home cooked meal, a couple hours of weeding in their garden, a bottle of their favorite adult beverage…whatever works…It’ll be worth it!
After a year of neglect you’ve got more than your share of weeds I’m sure…but you may have some real gems in there as well! Another great source of help could be any neighbors who might have noticed different plants growing/blooming during the year. A stunning display of asters in late summer are going to look like a whole lot of weeds for much of the year. A stand of crocosmia is going to start out looking suspiciously weedy and it would be such a shame to lose something so beautiful and FREE! It’ll be a little difficult to tell right now as so many perennials are just getting started so having someone really knowledgeable will be invaluable!
Try to identify the weeds and get them under control. If you’ve got a big patch of weeds, I’d forgo the weed control matting and use many layers of newspaper and a few inches of mulch to deprive them of sunlight. It’s not fast, but it’s effective and you can till it into the soil after the weeds die and the newspaper and mulch break down. A poachers spade is great for getting at those deep taproots! My favorite tool I think! Boiling water is usually effective too for lots of newly emerging weeds…but will kill just about anything it touches…so you’ve got to be careful.
I’ve picked up and started new gardens a couple of times and one of the best pieces of advice came from a dear friend and knowledgeable plantswoman who took me under her wing. She said to wait one year (as incredibly hard as that is) and walk your garden daily. Start a journal and take note of the light and how it changes both during the day and over the course of the year. Take note of the plants and shrubs and bulbs and the birds and trees and the winds and rain :-) . Which parts of the garden are dry, which parts tend to be soggy. If you have a digital camera I would take a snapshot(s) every week of the garden overall…after a year you’ll have a great tool in planning your garden out. Also take shots of some of the plants you think might be something and note their location so you can not only keep an eye on them, but recognize them this time next year. And if they’re weeds…you’ll be able to spot that this time next year too! Just as valuable.
Worst case scenario…nothing noteworthy pops up in your garden (very unlikely!), but then you have a blank slate to work with! If you really just can’t resist digging in and getting your hands dirty…after eliminating all of the weeds, you can always throw yourself into putting together some really nice containers.
LOL…this was probably more answer than you were looking for! Best of luck! I’m curious to see how others respond to your question.
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