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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:51 pm
Location: Nebraska

Old garden full of weeds and ditch lilies

Hi everyone! I moved into a house last spring with a lovely huge garden space - unfortunately, it is overgrown with ditch lilies and many other weeds. I tried to fight it last year by digging up all the plants I could, but never got very far. This year I'd really like to turn it into a nice vegetable garden; it's a beautiful piece of land that just needs some love.

My question is - what's the best way to get rid of all the junk in there? I'm pregnant and have small children, so I'm not interested in any chemical solutions, but I want to make sure these lilies and weeds get out and don't come back to choke our garden. I really want to plant this year instead of letting it lie fallow, but if that's my only option that's okay too. Thanks for the help!


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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Lots of choices - traditional would be to rent a tiller, till it all up and rake the loosened weeds out of it. Wait a couple weeks until a lot of the weed seeds you exposed sprout and then till it again, tilling in some compost/ composted manure/ other soil amendments.

Least destructive to the life of the soil would be just to chop all the weeds down so they lie down flat. Cover everything with 2 -3 layers of cardboard or a bunch of layers of newspaper. Then cover that with at least 3-4 inches of good topsoil (mixed with compost etc) and plant into it. Water thoroughly at each layer. The wet cardboard will break down and disappear within few months, but in the meantime it smothers all the weeds.

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Joined: Fri Feb 03, 2012 2:51 pm
Location: Nebraska

Thanks for the tips!

Marlingardener - When would be the best time to put up the sheet? It doesn't get very hot here until about May, which is ideally when I'd like to be planting; would the technique still work if done during colder weather? The trees are junk trees we're planning on having removed this spring as well, so with them gone there will be lots of light. And yes, I have two little gardeners that are very eager to help me out with all the garden chores :)

Rainbowgardener - We rented a tiller last year, but there are some thick roots (mostly the lilies and some tree roots) that pretty much stopped the tiller dead. The lilies are about 1/3 of the garden, so it wasn't the best solution. I like the cardboard idea; we'll have to give it a go!

Greener Thumb
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Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:29 pm
Location: Central PA

looks like someone was a day lily fan . . .

tilling up the lily roots is a not good idea. some/most/all the chopped up bits and pieces will "propagate" - ie start new plants.

if you catch the soil at the right moisture state, dig them up with a garden fork for disposal. around the tree roots, yeah, that's going to be a bit more tedious. you won't get them all.

it's unlikely you'll solve the lily invasion in one season. you'll need to keep at it for 2-3 seasons - a heavy smothering cover/mulch should do the job.

those "roots" are actually tubers - they store "food" - so the plant can "survive on" for quite some time even if smothered - hence the need for multiple season attention . . . .

Susan W
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:46 pm
Location: Memphis, TN

Given the size and situation, you could try a combo of above mentioned options. Perhaps you can do the dig-it-out in a smaller section, cardboard the larger center space etc. If you catch it damp (after a rain) but not muddy, digging out isn't too bad. But do take it easy being pregnant and all. If you are doing most of the work, that is a large area to tackle this season given that it all needs amended.

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