Expanding beds, reducing lawn


Often, I find something unfamiliar sprouting in my garden. I know a lot of weeds/undesirables from experience, but when I can’t tell a plant, images online can be discouragingly useless. Wildflowers are shown in closeups of the flower itself, with none of what’s needed—a clear look at the leaf type, the size of the plant relative to others, changes from immaturity to maturity. A good database of newly sprouted weeds doesn’t seem to exist.

So I’ll help where I can, with photos and labeling, as above.

Virginia Creeper and wild grapevine are both natives, hosts for insect larvae, and beneficial at forest margins. In a flowerbed, they’re problematic. Both also root tight, hard to pull if you don’t catch them in time. As to pokeweed, the first leaves look a lot like a tomato or pepper, so you may be hoping for a volunteer. You can tell poke because it’s a little waxy and has a purple-red stem. Pokeweed, at the edge of a property large enough for a wild spot, is fodder for deer, and draws them off your good stuff. But you’ll want to rogue it out quickly from the flower and vegetable patches. 



Now, some information about my stick borders.

Above, is an edge at stage one, where branches and sticks I gather from my yard are defining the bed, and providing shelter. This dahlia survived from last summer, even despite this year’s late cold snap. Decomposing wood generates some heat in its own right, and keeps soil from freezing, which keeps biological activity going, which makes food for soil organisms, which release nutrients for plants, etc. 



At stage two, I start filling in with clippings from the lawn, and leaf mold, which can sink and settle for a year.



Stage three, I add soil. The effect is of a raised bed, while also this new planting space, encroaching outwards, replaces its foot or two of lawn, and makes an organic (in the artistic sense) undulation to the overall design of garden beds. The paths, when the whole thing is reduced to only beds and paths, will curve and snake, adding that sense of discovery as you walk through the garden.



Fourth stage, larger perennials well-rooted. When you first plant, everything needs watering frequently, because the hump drains more freely than flat ground, and the roots aren’t established. In time, these plants should be especially trenched in and able to withstand dry spells.

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