The Q&A Archives: redoing our garden

Question: I have a list of questions. We just bought a house in April and I am planning to redo the whole backyard and front yard so it will be nice and green by next year.

Because my husband will be deployed I will be doing everything except for the tree trimming (they are big, tall trees. I want the easiest and not so expensive way of doing it.

1) first I want to kill all the grass so I can start fresh. and I do have small patches of shade so I want something that will grow in the shade as well.

2) after I kill the grass what do I have to do to before I seed new grass and when should I do it during the year.

3) I also have a lot of black spiders and other insects that I want to kill because I have a baby and I would like for him to enjoy the back yard next year. I know some insects are benefical but i just want to kill everything so I can start fresh.

4)I also want to plant flowers but i don't know if there are some that will last long during the year instead of just in the spring and summer.

Answer: I think redoing an entire landscape is a huge undertaking, but it you work at it a section at a time, you should be rewarded with an outstanding new yard. You can renovate a lawn by using a vegetation killer, then rototilling, adding organic amendments, then leveling and broadcasting seed. This is best done in the fall when temperatures are cool and rainfall abundant. Once you've killed the weeds and grass, you shouldn't have problems with insects (they'll go where the grass is greener and they can find other insects to eat.)

Right now I think I'd concentrate on the flower beds. Dig out the weeds first, then lay a 4-5" layer of compost over the top of the bed and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". Level the area and plant your annuals and perennials, then cover the bare earth with weed barrier and top it off with a decorative mulch such as bark or rocks. This will keep the area virtually weed-free for a very long time. Perennials popular in your growing region include the dozens that are listed on the following website:

When you click on a plant name, you'll see a photo, a complete description, and growing requirements. Make your plant choices to correspond with whether the planting site is sunny or shady.

Best wishes with your new landscape!

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