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Backyard Help!


We recently purchased our home (in the winter), and much to our dismay, found the yard completely out of control come spring/summer. There is a "ground cover" which has completely taken over all the lawn area, and is at risk of suffocating some beautiful plants (especially peonies!). There are dandelions as far as the eye can see, and the lawn area is covered in mud patches from where another ground cover was ripped up.

Please help!!! We are new to any type of gardening/landscaping and are at a loss for where to begin. Ultimately, we would like to have grass throughout the backyard rather than the groundcover, and perhaps add some flower beds. I am unsure what the ground cover is and how we can get rid of it.

I've attached some pictures to give some visualization to exactly what we're working with (no judgment please - we blame the previous owners :p).

Thanks in advance!


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Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Backyard Help!

At this point, I would just start over - rent a tiller and till everything up except the peonies and whatever like that you want. What you need to do is till it all up, let it sit for 2-3 weeks or so, so all the weed seeds in it sprout and then till it again, tilling in some fertilizer and compost and whatever other soil amendments you might want to add and then plant grass seed.

HOWEVER, you can't plant grass seed in the heat of the summer. You have to wait until the weather breaks. You probably could start the tilling process about the first of Sept.

In the meantime just mow all the ground cover down. Keeping it mowed short will start reducing its vigor and it gives you that look of an even green carpet. My "lawn" is mostly weeds and clover anyway. As long as I keep it mowed, it looks just like anyone else's lawn.

Use this summer time to make plans, where you want flower beds, etc. If there's any hardscaping you want to add (paths, water feature, fire pit, expand the little patio, etc) you can be doing that now. Fall will be planting time.

Best Wishes! Keep us posted on how it is going. Be sure to take before and after pictures. You will be glad to have them to look back on later.
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Posts: 11225
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Backyard Help!

Agreed, it has more weeds than anything else. It might be better to start with a blank slate. You will need to hand weed around the plants you want to save. Make sure they are watered, fed and mulched. The rest of the yard, I would rather just basically use round up first. Clear off the dead stuff and do not compost it, it goes in the trash or to the dump. Rototil and water and wait for the weed seeds to germinate, either pull them or round them up again. Repeat rototilling and roundup until you don't have weeds coming up after. Keep it that way by hand pulling after that. Then add 4-6 inches of compost, 1 inch of manure and rototil it all in to the top 7-8 inches of soil around August.. Make sure when you grade that the grade slopes away from the house and toward the street. If you are doing this yourself and not calling a landscaper to clear the lot (except for the plants you want to keep) I would start now.

I would plan out the yard and where you want to put things. I would also be researching how to take care of the plants you have and anything you want to put in. You can usually get manure for free at stables and farms. They are usually very happy for you to take it away. As long as you are only using it on ornamentals it is fine. If you have a composting facility and a truck, you can get bulk compost from them cheaper than by the bag.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Tue Oct 20, 2015 1:12 am
Location: central Ohio

Re: Backyard Help!

Dig up those tulip bulbs before you till the entire yard, if you decide to till the yard. Store them in a cool, dark area indoors until you decide on a good spot to replant them. They should be replanted by mid October in my area.

During your year of waiting and deciding what you want to do, make note of how much sun the area gets. Your amount of sunshine will determine what kind of plants you can put in this fall and next spring.

I would clean out all the stuff you don't want. Hand pull weeds and lay mulch around the rest. And mow the areas in between until you get a better idea of where you want to go with the area. If you want to add some plants this summer it would be a good idea to put them in pots which you can move around if necessary.

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