my pet peeve: dyed mulch. what’s yours?

I LOATHE DYED MULCH, among other pet peeves I see here and there in gardens (and every gas-station curbside bed). The above doodle by Andre Jordan clearly states my point of view (as does my all-about-mulch FAQ page), but what’s your Number 1 source of horticultural or landscape irritation, the no-no’s on your personal list? What would you outlaw if you were HRH The King/Queen of Garden Good Taste?

  1. narf7 says:

    BAD PRUNING! People who just hack away at beautiful trees and shrubs without any sort of idea what they are doing. Its the middle of winter here in Tasmania and we just passed some incredibly bad pruning performed on a stand of olive trees. Topping trees can be added in to bad pruning…please people, if you don’t know how to prune, get someone who does to prune your plants, they deserve that much!

  2. This is so funny! I can’t stand red mulch either. Absolutely drives me up a wall. My husband has a landscape supply business (Border Valley Stone & Mulch in Amenia) and several years ago I put my foot down on the red mulch. NO MORE! It was a very small personal victory in my fight for the beautification of our little corner of the world…

  3. Teresa says:

    Hah…good one!

    I think the 2 main things hubby and I would outlaw in a garden are Round-Up (used lazily in lieu of hand-weeding) and planting non-native invasive species. Ah, it’s good to be king and queen. ;)

  4. Minnie says:

    Crape murder – topping crape myrtles. Besides bearing colorful flowers for months during the worst of the summer heat here in the South, gently pruned crape myrtle’s reveal exfoliating bark on smooth, muscular stems and branches. People who give them a crew cut deserve jail time.

  5. Mary Ann says:

    People who ask me to save seeds or a seedling for them but never come to get them. I now have a rule: want it? come and dig it. and do it before the season ends. And another peeve is having to retrieve borrowed tools.

  6. Carolyn says:

    What my mother-in-law referred to as ‘little round balls of aristocracy’, ie the shrubs perfectly cut into balls when they were never meant to be shaped such as dwarf nandina and forsythia. Weeping trees that are cut into half bowls are just as bad. It is not natural, atrocious and involves much too much maintenance.

  7. sharon says:

    Ivy allowed to grow into and strangle trees. I’m on a campaign to Free the Trees! Giving my second talk on the subject next month.

  8. Sofia says:

    I agree with Rebecca, fake flowers are the worst! Why would someone put fake flowers in their garden, in fact why would they put them anywhere? There is none of that lovely flower scent, they provide no oxygen to the room or garden, and they look terrible!

  9. Martha Ellen says:

    I totally agree with you on this one Margaret! There seems to be an overabundance or ugly mulches around including that rubber mulch–In my opinion, mulch should be something that will break down into the soil and improve it!

    1. margaret says:

      Hysterical, dsmith74. Thank you. I have now changed my opinion and will try to find some for myself!

      Nice to see you, Debra, and I could not agree more. Ugh.

      Also nice to hear from you, Martha Ellen, a fellow hater of shredded tires as mulch. What are they thinking?

  10. Gosh, everyone did such a great job of listing icky stuff I thought perhaps I would have nothing to add…but I get all prickly when there is noise generated from mowing, trimming, chipping at inconsiderate times and burning of garden debris when the wind is moving in the direction of my garden.

  11. Alisa says:

    Sharon–I am moderately obsessed with ivy strangulation myself. I’m strongly considering going out in the cover of darkness and relieving some of my neighbors’ trees from their ivy cloaks. Ditto on asian bittersweet. People around here seem to think it’s desirable or something, trimming it neatly around chainlink fences. Makes my blood boil to see… that along with all the bittersweet infested plantings around 85% of all commercial buildings around here. For Pete’s sake, people! Pull your weeds already!!! All your berry-covered invasives just make it harder for me to maintain my own space! Grrrrrr…

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Alisa. Bittersweet is my most prolific alien here…I must pull several thousand seedlings every year. The birds just “disperse” it everywhere (meaning poop it out from a perch in my shrubs and trees). Oy!

  12. Tracy B says:

    Love this site. Love the information, love the way you handle the know-it-alls (with a welcoming greeting and a quiet one-up in facts…brilliant), love the conversational tone that makes it feel like one is leaning over the fence chatting to a smarter neighbor, and love the wry sense of humor embedded in so many posts. Bet you’re a great friend.

    My question, if you please: I’m looking for a clematis or other large flowering climber to scramble up a few 10′ – 12′ tall, young pussy willows. The challenge is that they’re in bright (but total) shade until very late afternoon when they receive about 2-3 hours of very horizontal, weak sun. The other challenge is they’re tucked in the very back corner of a very large bed and will therefore have to have flowers that ‘read’ from a bit of a distance.

    Any suggestions? I’d so appreciate any you could throw my way.

    Thanks, and please keep posting, I read them daily!

    1. margaret says:

      Thanks, Tracy B, for the kind words. Your question is a hard one. I know vines for shade, but FLOWERING vines for shade and BIG FLOWERS that will read from a distance…oy! What about starting in the advanced search “plant finder” on gardenvines.com (you can start here at this link). Put in your zone and check that you are in shade and so on and do some reading up on the suggestions? For instance, if I put Zone 6, and then check large-flowered Clematis and check the shade box, I get three results, like these.

  13. Terri H. says:

    Matthew said “Forsythia pruned to within an inch of its life.” If you see mine, Matthew–I DIDN’T DO IT! My husband hired someone to trim the box elder before our family reunion, because I wasn’t going to have time. Well, I THOUGHT it was just the box elder. But the guy trimmed EVERYTHING–and all he did was whack with a hedge trimmer. ARGH! I HAD pruned the forsythia right after it bloomed. He left it looking like a bundle of sticks. Never again!!

  14. Anne Allbeury-Hock says:

    OOOH At last I can gripe!!! Over pruned azaleas, improperly pruned box wood (really bad) and the someone with electric sheers who butchered the weeping
    willows at the town pond…..sheering then off flat at the bottom. Ugh! Is it proper
    to prune those Knock Out roses? Best from Anne in very hot Maryland.

  15. Anne says:

    Pet peeve #1: Overuse of one plant, because it is easily divided. Like hostas. Just because they divide and transplant easily doesn’t mean you should do it. Show some restraint. Also, white rock mulch.

    1. margaret says:

      Yes, Anne, and YES! Hate white rock mulch (love gravel in appropriate places, like a dry garden, but more of a natural color). See you soon!

  16. Robin says:

    I agree Lara! Mulch volcano’s cannot be good for trees either! The thing that drives me nuts is when someone plants a dwarf evergreen or a yew right smack in the middle of their lawn. All alone, by itself. UGH!!

    1. margaret says:

      Hi, Robin. Lonely conifers are sad, I agree. Sometimes I like a really narrow vertical one as an exclamation point at the end of a path or something — but not the way you describe, in the lawn all alone probably.

  17. Jenny says:

    Artificial hanging plant greenery. Especially when it stays out there all winter. Nobody is fooled at that point! (And yes, butchered forsythia.)

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