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Old 08-17-2008, 06:23 PM
 
Location: in my mind
2,745 posts, read 12,851,069 times
Reputation: 1590

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I'm just wondering. My front yard is a hot mess. Part bare dirt, part grass, part weeds, some clover. We don't use the yard for play (dogs and kids play in back)... so no one walks on the "grass" or whatever you call it in front. The yard is very small so I'd be thrilled with anything attractive that didn't grow tall and have to be mowed/weedeated often... so I have considered groundcover, or just a whole bunch of flowers, i.e. zinnias!

I have one little Magnolia tree growing, some cannas along the fence, and an Esperanza bush (tecoma stans) in another corner of the yard, plus there are 2 older and established Texas Mountain Laurels, about 20 foot-plus each (2 of them) providing some shade on one side. What could I do that is relatively cheap (preferably from seed) to just make it look good for now? One side is partly shaded and the other full sun.

The big question is, before i do any of this do I have to kill off what's there? Is there something that I can plant that will take over and choke out the remaining grass/weeds/clover mix?
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Old 08-17-2008, 06:27 PM
 
Location: Sunny Florida
7,136 posts, read 10,665,956 times
Reputation: 9448
I would definitely kill the grass before you plant groundcover. If you don't, the grass will grow up through the groundcover and it will look unattractive. You can kill the grass with a chemical spray like RoundUp or get a tiller and till it up, but I'd definitely get rid of the grass first if you want a clean look.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:15 PM
 
Location: Thumb of Michigan
4,489 posts, read 6,656,544 times
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Definitely!

Grass is strong foe when working together. A lawn of grass for instance, can choke off a tree or stave its' growth severely. That's why you see mulch around trees in properly manicured yards. Trees were never designed to compete with grass in its' natural setting.

Tiller is the best way to go. I'd refrain from using chemicals. That's just my opinion. Use a border to block grass from creeping into your destinated plot of flowers and ground-cover. Bricks, wood or anything that sinks a few inches in the ground to stop the grass from overtaking it.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:28 PM
 
Location: Albemarle, NC
7,730 posts, read 12,445,614 times
Reputation: 1489
* Don't remove the sod or do any extra work, like removing weeds or rocks.
* Mark the area for your garden using a water hose or a long rope to get the desired shape.
* Cover the area you've marked with wet newspapers, overlapping the edges (5 or more sheets per layer).
* Cover the paper with one to two inches of peat moss or other organic material.
* Layer several inches of organic material on top of the peat moss.
* Continue to alternate layers of peat moss and organic material, until desired thickness is reached.
* Water until the garden is the consistency of a damp sponge.
* Plant, plant, plant and mulch, mulch, mulch.

Lasagna Gardening 101

It's easy, for me it's been almost free, and there's no time consuming back breaking work that could kill your magnolia.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:32 PM
 
Location: In the Pearl of the Purchase, Ky
6,957 posts, read 12,372,463 times
Reputation: 29133
I imagine they have the same type deal in Michigan, but my dad got a soil sample from his yard, about the equivalent of a quart jar full, and took it to the soil conservation office in his county. They sent it to Univ. of Kentucky for analysis. It came back that he needed nitrogen. He put it on his yard the way the directions told him. Within a month he was having to mow his yard twice a week for a while.

Each state probably has the same deal that you might want to check into. One thing he did to improve his yard, but it took several years to get my mother's approval, was to cut down the magnolia tree. Nothing grows under those things!! He got rid of the tree and that part of the yard looks nice and green now.
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Old 08-17-2008, 07:39 PM
 
Location: somewhere close to Tampa, but closer to the beach
2,035 posts, read 4,415,979 times
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..definately agree with sunnydee..the grass should be taken out before you do any sort of planting...the one thing i'll advise you on is that if you decide to use roundup..or any of that chemical weed killers to clear the area,...many of those products can linger in the soil for a year or more..and will stop anything from growing....its a not so pleasent secret the companies may not advise you of...
..as far as removing the grass..and clover..id clear what you can by scraping it out..or renting a sod cutter..which should remove most of the grass and remaining roots...if the grass you have is something like st. augustine..a bermuda grass look alike..keep an eye on the area after its removed because it has a knack of sprouting up here and there from any roots which were too deep to remove..in this case,..id use a spot treatment kill any which appears..
as for plant choices...there are all sorts of choices...but some are obviously better than others...
if you are looking to create a low maintaince/water wise landscape,...look around for such plants as coreopsis...the cultivars 'zagreb',and 'moonbeam' both are great choices which flower all summer long and don't need alot of water once established...salvias(sages)..are also great choices...and those like autumn sage or germander sage stay pretty low...and also flower over a long season..
several varieties of 'sun rose'..or helianthemum grow no taller than about a foot and can spread up to 3 feet wide...they make a well behaved ground cover which looks clean..
in these areas,..you could also incorperate native annuals like blue bonnet and paint brush..for a spring display..and seeds of native perennials like cone flower or blue sage (salvia azurea)..for dependable plants which will remain for years...which will add to summer flower displays..
as far as planting a ground cover that wold choke out the weeds..besides
ivy and knotweed..both of which id never recommend..as they are both quite aggressive, will invite unwanted guests..and spread everywhere. ..i can't think of anything that would keep back the weeds..
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Old 08-22-2008, 11:12 AM
 
11,287 posts, read 16,804,919 times
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I agree with avoiding Round Up. That stuff is lethal and best reserved for desperate acts. Just rent a Tiller from the hardware store. They work great.
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Old 04-23-2011, 06:29 AM
 
1 posts, read 30,458 times
Reputation: 12
I know this is an old thread but had similar question about removing grass from trees. The home we purchased is approx 5 years old. The grass grows up to the trees. I would like to mulch around the trees but was not sure what to do with grass removal before I mulch. After googling a number of sites the reply by paperhouse seems to be the most consistent answer. However, I was wondering if burning the grass would be a good/bad solution with something like a red dragon propane torch then doing the layers and mulching? The soil is clay and there appears to be feeder roots closer to the surface with the grass. Also there is one tree with a stone tree ring that appears it was built fairly high up the trunk above the root ball/Crown?. It looks like there was an attempt to mulch at one time but now its just solid decomposed mulch. If I remove the ring what issues should I be concerned with so I don't damage the tree.
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Old 04-25-2011, 12:50 PM
 
Location: Land of Free Johnson-Weld-2016
6,474 posts, read 13,403,963 times
Reputation: 6404
Quote:
Originally Posted by neonsurfer View Post
I know this is an old thread but had similar question about removing grass from trees. The home we purchased is approx 5 years old. The grass grows up to the trees. I would like to mulch around the trees but was not sure what to do with grass removal before I mulch. After googling a number of sites the reply by paperhouse seems to be the most consistent answer. However, I was wondering if burning the grass would be a good/bad solution with something like a red dragon propane torch then doing the layers and mulching? The soil is clay and there appears to be feeder roots closer to the surface with the grass. Also there is one tree with a stone tree ring that appears it was built fairly high up the trunk above the root ball/Crown?. It looks like there was an attempt to mulch at one time but now its just solid decomposed mulch. If I remove the ring what issues should I be concerned with so I don't damage the tree.
I have some smaller trees and shrubs and here's what worked for me:
1. Hand pulling clumps of grass near the trunk. This works for kind of grass that grows like a rosette, and when the soil is slightly moist. You may need to use those cloth gloves with the rubber gripper. Sometimes I use my bare hands.

2. Removing the sod - I used to use a flat edged shovel, but I bought an edger recently. It has an end that looks like a half moon, and I got it at Home Depot. You press it into the ground and step down, so you make an outline of the area you want to remove. I think loosen the area with a regular shovel. Then I pull it up with my hands. The grass roots are so Strong, that it come up in a sheet.

3. Mulch - Put about three inches of mulch in a 2-3 foot ring around the tree. Leave space with no mulch right around the tree trunk. Maybe 3-5 inches.
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Old 04-25-2011, 01:00 PM
 
2 posts, read 34,139 times
Reputation: 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by paperhouse View Post
* Don't remove the sod or do any extra work, like removing weeds or rocks.
* Mark the area for your garden using a water hose or a long rope to get the desired shape.
* Cover the area you've marked with wet newspapers, overlapping the edges (5 or more sheets per layer).
* Cover the paper with one to two inches of peat moss or other organic material.
* Layer several inches of organic material on top of the peat moss.
* Continue to alternate layers of peat moss and organic material, until desired thickness is reached.
* Water until the garden is the consistency of a damp sponge.
* Plant, plant, plant and mulch, mulch, mulch.

[URL="http://ourgardengang.tripod.com/lasagna_gardening.htm"]Lasagna Gardening 101[/URL]

It's easy, for me it's been almost free, and there's no time consuming back breaking work that could kill your magnolia.
Wow what a great idea!
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