General Discussion:

Desperate Gardener

Messages posted to thread:

Ian Wooder13-Jul-04 09:03 PM EST
GardenGnome15-Jul-04 06:07 AM EST 6a   
Nancy16-Jul-04 01:56 PM EST 5   
Barbara28-Jul-04 10:27 AM EST 6a   
D.28-Jul-04 01:39 PM EST 6   
Patricia28-Jul-04 06:30 PM EST 5   
GardenGnome29-Jul-04 05:48 AM EST 6a   
Nancy29-Jul-04 01:42 PM EST 5   
dian01-Aug-04 07:09 PM EST 3b   
Lorraine 27-Mar-05 09:20 AM EST 3a   
April 11-Jun-06 08:08 PM EST   

Subject: Desperate Gardener
From: Ian Wooder
Date: 13-Jul-04 09:03 PM EST

I am a very new gardner in Brampton,Ontario. Actually I've just started this year so I am I guess that I'm still probably "green", (no pun intended) at this. My backyard is an absolute mess. I've got weeds and grass growing through the cracks of my interlocking bricks on the patio, which I try to pull all the time.I have used "Roundup" but the weeds continue to appear. As well, my gardens are in terrible shape, everytime I pull the weeds, and there are alot of them, they grow back within a week. Finally, I have some type of vine, that has little pink flowers on it, growing in my grass. It just seems to continue to grow, no matter how often I pull or cut it.I am beginning to lose patience and starting to wonder whether gardening is the right hobby to pick. I am growing desperate.Can anyone please help me?

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: GardenGnome
Zone: 6a
Date: 15-Jul-04 06:07 AM EST

My sympathies, Ian. Welcome to the world of well-established weeds. I'm in the same boat - the vines in the lawn (not sure of its proper name), healthy populations of dandelions, curled dock, garlic mustard, prickly lettuce, buckhorn plantain, etc. etc ad infinitum... I know what needs to be done, but as I have two small children and a dog who love to play in the yard, I'm going to put up with the weeds a while longer. When the time is right, the only sane way to deal with a lawn that is more weed than grass is to get aggressive with broadleaf weed killer and stay aggressive until such time as the other things you will have been doing (overseeding, aerating, adding lots of compost (weed seed-free I hope!!), leaving grass clippings on the lawn) have increased the health of your soil and grass plants. A healthy lawn should be able to choke out weeds on its own, but will always need a leg up from you through regular weeding (once you've gone off the chemicals). Something else to note (I've mentioned this in this forum before) is the recent availability of granular corn gluten meal. This is the protein from the corn kernel that is a byproduct of the milling process and is used in animal feed. Ten years or so ago, a professor at Iowa State University discovered that corn gluten will inhibit root development in newly germinated seeds. I've started using it just this year so time will tell how well it works for me in particular. I applied it everywhere: lawn, flower beds, and under bushes. As for your patio, Roundup and handpulling are probably the only way you're going to be able to keep on top of it. Eventually there will be fewer and fewer weed seeds to take hold, but you've got to be consistent - the weeds will be!

Good luck and don't get discouraged! G

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 16-Jul-04 01:56 PM EST

Welcome to the realities, and some would say the down side, of gardening, Ian. I can echo much of what GardenGnome had to say. Pulling and otherwise getting rid of weeds is a never-ending task. If your garden has been neglected for a long time there will be lots and lots of annual weed seeds in the top couple of inches of soil, just awaiting the opportunity to sprout. I would suggest buying a good circle hoe, that'll allow you to sever the weed seedlings roots without disturbing the roots of any new plants you've put in. A good mulch in your garden beds will help supress the weed seed germination. Don't bother with the landscape fabric. You may like it the first year or so, but as time goes by it just gets in the way of new plantings, inhibits spread of groundcovers and the blinkin weeds just start sprouting straight out of the mulch and accumulated other debris on top. Not worth the effort in my opinion.

Regarding weeds on the patio, some people pour boiling water over them to kill them off, or use a small blow torch to burn them off. Roundup only works on growing plants and doesn't suppress seed germination. Pulling will get the big ones, but disturb the dirt in between enough to encourage the remaining seeds to sprout.

G's probably given you more advice than I can for the lawn, especially in making the lawn as healthy as you can to fight the weeds. The only thing I can add is that if your vine's flowers look like a little pink morning glory then you likely have bindweed, a nasty invasive little devil that will climb all over everything and take over the world if you let it. In my books, it'd be well worth pulling out the big guns if your facing bindweed - chemically speaking. If it has smaller bluish flowers and small round leaves with scalloped edges, then you have Creeping Charlie, which isn't so bad. I just keep pulling it back from the garden beds to keep it under control. In the lawn I leave it least it and the clover stay green in August when the grass is mostly brown.

I don't mind the weeding. After working a full day, there's nothing more therapeutic than strolling around the flower beds, wine glass in hand and yanking out weeds as I go.

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: Barbara (
Zone: 6a
Date: 28-Jul-04 10:27 AM EST

Hi Desperate: We're in the same zone, or close to it. I rely on the boiling water trick. The other replies all have much more extensive advice then this, but I thought I'd send my little solution along too. Good luck and welcome to gardening. It's a wonderful, sometimes frustrating, always evolving experience.

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: D.
Zone: 6
Date: 28-Jul-04 01:39 PM EST

Hang in there....

I'm a newbie gardener too. This is my second summer out in the garden ~ and I have only just planted this year! Year one was spent battling the weeds, sticks, stones and other overgrown and wild things. My garden was sadly neglected for several years but has wonderful potential!

I found that the most rewarding thing has been starting from a clean slate - keep what looks like it'll make it and then plant what you love.

As for the weeds, yanking them seems to be the only way for me. The landscaping fabric was simply too much work with little success and the boiling water worked for a short time. Pulling them is strangely therapeutic...

Good luck!

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: Patricia (
Zone: 5
Date: 28-Jul-04 06:30 PM EST

Dear D.G.: Rather than repeat all the good practical advice you have already received, I would like to point out something more along the lines of an attitude thing: gardening takes time and patience. It is not instant perfection or anything close to it. As a gardener, try to focus more on what you have accomplished rather than on all the imperfect things you wish were all fixed up right away. When you have worked hard, reward yourself with a quiet sit down and a cool drink. Remember to really "look" at your garden once a day without pulling weeds, or fussing over anything. Just look! Admire a flower or marvel at an insect. In a word: enjoy!

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: GardenGnome
Zone: 6a
Date: 29-Jul-04 05:48 AM EST

Hear, hear!

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: Nancy
Zone: 5
Date: 29-Jul-04 01:42 PM EST

Well said, Patricia.

Of all the things I've learned since I started gardening, patience is probably at the top of the list. Shrubs and perennials take a couple of years to fill out and look their best. Some seeds can take a year or so to germinate, but many are OH so worth the wait. Unless you have a lot of money or tons of time on your hands, projects sometimes have to be priortized and spread over a number of seasons. For someone who normally doesn't look much past the next couple of months, it been a very useful life lesson.

What was the hardest to learn was to just stop once in a while to both literally and figuratively smell the roses. To Patricia's point... it's all to easy to lose perspective, get buried in all the tasks, and forget why we started gardening in the first place. After seven years, my husband might argue that I haven't learned this yet. But I'm getting better!

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: dian
Zone: 3b
Date: 01-Aug-04 07:09 PM EST

when I first moved into our home my garden was all grass. and weeds a nd Since I wanted to have an English Garden I nearly had a panic atack when I remembered a piece of advice an old gardener gave me . Which I am giving you.Its Inch by Inch its a sinch Yard by yard its too hard. Get out your paper and pencil and Plan the meat and bones of your garden. Plan what trees you want what shrubs and flowers. Then start making space by pulling out the weeds and crowding them out with plants. I hate to tell you this but weeds unfortuately will only take a week to grow they all have their Seasons But if you dont let it overwelm you it can get done. Scots turf builder is an excellant way to make a healthy lawn which will help to crowd out the weeds. Good Luck and remember that a garden is always a work in progress. A labour of love to a gardener

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: Lorraine
Zone: 3a
Date: 27-Mar-05 09:20 AM EST

I have a very large, old, garden which is in desperate need of a very large load (or two) of good compost or very well rotted manure. Does anyone know where I culd get same in the Edmonton area? Much obliged! It would need to be delivered.

Subject: RE: Desperate Gardener
From: April
Date: 11-Jun-06 08:08 PM EST

I also live in Edmonton and have been amending the soil of the property we bought 2 years ago. I've had excellent results with mushroom compost (no weeds either!!) I get it at Prairie Mushrooms just north of Sherwood park--Only $10 a truckload. Here's the website with all the info: Unfortunately they don't deliver.

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