Yard Overhaul, Part II


Old 09-18-00, 11:05 AM
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Much like a previous post, I moved into a home with a LOT of landscaping in the backyard, which has been neglected for several months. The most troublesome part of the landscaping is white rock which has been spread around nearly half of the yard, which has numerous weeds growing through it.

What I would like to do is remove the rock and most of the flowers, laying sod so that we have some lawn back there, and keeping a manageable number of flowers. The existing flowers are overgrown, and infiltrated with poison ivy. The yard is beautiful when in bloom (we've seen pictures), but would require full-time maintenance if left as is.

Any suggestions? (we live near St. Louis, MO)
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Old 09-18-00, 12:12 PM
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You've got a big job ahead of you but I know it will look great when you're done. This is going to be a little long but hang in there.

Let's deal with the worst thing first - poison ivy. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service. In the government pages under county. Entry usually starts with the initials of your state's land grant college/university. Ask for Bulletin #A1.9:1972/Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac: Identification, Precautions and Eradications.

The main control methods described are cultivating, mowing or cutting, grubbing out roots, spraying, and smothering. Large infestations can be controlled by mowing close to the ground in mid-summer, then plowing and harrowing. (Not easily done in a yard. Harrowing I mean.)

It will eventually die out if you keep it clipped to within an inch or two of the ground with a power mower. Grasses will tend to crowd it out, and it can't get enough height to put out leaves which starves the weeds roots.

Under trees or around your plants you wish to save you can try smothering it out with tar paper or cardboard. A deep mulch will also be effective and more attractive. Use landscape fabric under the mulch as an additional barrier.

Wear gloves and protective clothing. When finished, wash well with any yellow soap, such as Fels Naptha. Put all clothes directly into the washer and launder immediately. Do not mix with your other laundry to do later.

If you burn the plants do not stand in the smoke because the infection causing oils may stick to particles of soot and be carried to the skin.

Do get your hands on the above bulletin for full and complete info. Since you will be landscaping this area you will be able to use the control information in the future.

It would also help to talk to your pharmicist for information and treatment product to have on hand just in case of contact.

Now for the rock. This is going to sound bizarre but hopefully the rock does not have groundcover fabric under it. This will make your job easier if it's not there.

Make yourself a "sifting screen". There is a good illustration of it and how to make in Crocket's Victory Garden by James Underwood Crockett. Available in your local library. See page 303.

In short, it is a frame made of 2x4's approx. 3' square or size to suit you.

Depending on the smallest size of the rock you are dealing with go to your hardware store and get "hardware cloth". Either 1/2" or 1/4" mesh. Build your frame and stretch the hardware cloth over it on one side. Fasten to the 2x4's with heavy staples or nails nailed half way in and then bent over staple fashion.

Prop it up on stakes at an angle and shovel the rock/soil mix on to the screen. This will let the soil fall through and deflect the rock. Wheelbarrow the rock away. Sell it if you have no use for it or find someone who thinks they want "rocky soil".

You can also put the screen across the top of a wheelbarrow and sift the soil directly into the barrow then dump the rock (don't do too large a quantity at one time) into another barrow to take away. This works good if you have someone working with you.

The weeds can be killed down with RoundUp available in your local garden center. Follow label directions and cautions.

Since you are going to be lifting all this rock out of there you'll be getting the weeds anyway so I don't think I'd bother killing them down if it was me. This is a bad time of year as once it starts to cool down you are dealing with mature weeds and they are awful hard to kill now. Besides you can have poison ivy in there as well. I prefer being at the far end of the shovel from that stuff.

That should be a big enough job to keep you busy for a weekend or two or three or four. I don't envy you the job ahead of you but persevere. I just know it will be super when you're done and it will really be something you can be proud of.

Best - Ladybug
Old 09-19-00, 07:11 AM
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never never burn poison ivy. the oil the plant produces is awful if breathed and does not just drift with the smoke. there is a chance of surfaces (ie chairs, tables ) becoming contamined with the residue and still picking up poison ivy. composit (smoother)it for a long time (the longer the better) in a hot composter (one that gets a lot of sun and soil, and leaves) and bake it til it turns to soil itself.
Old 09-19-00, 07:25 AM
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Absolutely correct and thank you for getting that information in here. I should have had that in there instead of burning. Appreciate your input. Best - Ladybug
Old 10-18-00, 09:47 AM
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about that poison ivy, I have huge vines growing on trees on a recently purchased property. One is an arborivita of the neighbors.
Any suggestions on removing? The leaves are at least 8" long and the stem which is wrapped around a huge tree is about 7" in diamiter. Thanks in advance, Anita44
Old 10-19-00, 08:14 AM
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For monsters that size you will need some local advice. Contact your local county Cooperative Extension Service at http://www.reeusda.gov/1700/statepartners/usa.htm. Just click on your state then go to your county and Cooperative Extension Service local office.

Contact them and they will be able to tell you what you need to know.

Best - Ladybug

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