Ask a Question forum→Old garden with lots of weeds (gardening newbie)

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Connecticut
Salundy
May 6, 2020 2:40 PM CST
So i'm renting a property with a small backyard and some old gardening beds. I haven't lived here long but the gardens look like they haven't been maintained in years. There are a bunch of weeds that are starting to look like small trees but could be easily cut down. (Pictures of the garden bed below).

I want to get rid of these now before they fully grow out of control later this summer. Best way to dispose of these? Should i just dump them in garbage bags and throw it out with regular trash? And what tools do you recommend using to get rid of these?


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[Last edited by Salundy - May 6, 2020 2:42 PM (+)]
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Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
May 6, 2020 4:56 PM CST
Your town might let you put yard waste out on a separate bin/day.If not, just trash.

They look like lopper size jobs
https://www.homedepot.com/b/Ou...

i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Milpitas, CA
SoulReaver009
May 7, 2020 12:48 AM CST
I would use a pick-axe!
And leave it there to decompose! You can easily throw a layer of dirt over it and make it non visible. Sprinkle some used coffee grounds to attract worms. Sprinkle some lime juice 1-2 weeks later. And they will decompose it and...

COPY AND PASTE:
Check this out...
https://richsoil.com/lawn-care...

This has helped me learn quite a bit. It works. I didn't see what your goal is (endgame). Or if you already have a plan and want advice with it. I don't know what it is or what your thinking or leaning to...

I turn my dirt with weeds everywhere, once. I wait for them to hit 7-10 cm in height. Or for the low growing weeds, the same in diameter. When you turn the dirt, water it. Weeds will grow again! Don't fret. Wait a week. And... turn the dirt again. This time will be easier. And all the weeds and seeds will have grown, germinated, and are now dead with this second turning. Maybe 1 or 2 will sprout up after this, but it will be easily taken care of.

With certain weeds such as dandelions (which I grow!) they can have a huge tap root. If just 1 inch of the root lives, the whole thing can come back. They mostly die once winter hits. I live in CA, so if they die here, I'm sure they will die there. The ones that make it to next year (not that many), you have to dig up COMPLETELY, and dispose of, if you want to get rid of them (I transplant them!).Baby ones are easy! Only have to dig a few inches. But they can disperse hundreds of seeds at a time. I chop off the head and collect the seeds. Don't ask me how many seeds I have...

Other weeds, can simply be chopped at the surface. They are plants after all. Most need the top leaves to make food and survive. Dandelions on the other hand... aaaarrrrggghhh!

Turn over the dirt easily, where the weeds are and see which come back. Some will come back because they are like dandelions, and some will come back because of germinated seeds. If you observe enough, you can tell which is which. And which need to to be dug up completely and which can just be chopped at the surface. Garden pests love a damaged plant, and can become your ally by attacking the plant you just chopped.

I don't know what your resources are, or what you are capable of. Not sure if my advice is of any help to you specifically, but if there's something I missed or anything else... Just mention it!
Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 7, 2020 1:10 AM CST
You may want to identify what you have before you start chopping, digging and removing. I saw in your pics what I'm thinking is a yucca, or maybe a large clump of iris. There is a small evergreen plant of some kind there, perhaps an arborvitae. In the left side of the pic, at the base of a stump is what appears to be hosta coming up. These would be plants you might want to keep. Check your sunlight level throughout the day to see if the light is sufficient for these. There is some kind of shrub to the right that appears to be blooming. I would either post individual pics of the plants on this website for ID, or perhaps contact your local Master Gardener group through your local extension agency for help IDing these plants.
I'm living in my third rental home and I have often found some very nice garden plants in overgrown gardens just like this. I'm sure there are a lot of undesirable weeds there, but don't cut anything until you're sure. In the house I'm living in now, I found a very nice azalea in my backyard almost buried under Japanese honeysuckle and Chinese privet.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Connecticut
Salundy
May 7, 2020 8:19 AM CST
Thanks for the feedback everyone. So i should probably say that I am fairly new to gardening but I'm looking to get started. My goals are to grow stuff like strawberries, cilantro, mint, bell peppers. Simply planting flowers for cosmetic appeal doesn't really interest me at the moment. But certainly clearing out all that mess of growth and cleaning up the backyard would be aesthetically pleasing.

I used an app on my phone to ID the greens growing in this old garden bed. They are Lesser Burdock, Adam's Needle, Norway Maple, Eastern Red Cedar, Autumn Olive, Blue Plantain Lily.

I guess I'm also wondering if the time its going to take to clear out the weeds, kill/prevent future growth, and then get started on planting what I want, am I jumping into this too late into the spring/almost summer? I have been reading up that laying down something like cardboard or plastic sheets/tarps is a good but time consuming way to kill weeds. But I'm worried if I start that will the growing season be over by the time i want to start planting? And I live in Connecticut if that matters for what I want to grow.

I have also been looking up on composting. If I compost leaves, small branches and the weeds and other greens i pull out of the garden, is that good enough or would it be a waste of time and money to invest in a composting bin?
[Last edited by Salundy - May 7, 2020 3:38 PM (+)]
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Milpitas, CA
SoulReaver009
May 7, 2020 11:39 AM CST
It's not a waste of time or money. It's free. It does take a year for the organic material on your compost to be broken down by decomposers. So you won't be able to use it this year. I read that you can speed this up by attracting worms with coffee grounds. And then 1-2 weeks later you sprinkle lime juice. The lime juice is a powerful aphrodisiac to worms. If you get my drift. The more worms working...

I don't know if you are going to grow your veggies and fruits from seed or buy them already started. I grow from seed. I start them inside. After about 2-4 weeks they will be ready to go outside. If you buy them as plants, they will be ready as soon as you get home.
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
Charter ATP Member Houseplants Keeper of Poultry Vegetable Grower Region: Maryland Composter
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sallyg
May 7, 2020 11:57 AM CST
strawberries,
FInd plants at the garden center, plant soon, they mostly have fruit in spring. Then send send out runners and make more plants for next year.

cilantro,
FInd plants or seed. Needs cool weather. Short lived, will bloom and die. I have not had good luck.

mint,
Find plants.

bell peppers.
Find plants. THey are slow growing so seed would make it pretty late. Needs full sun, warm weather, plenty of water to give good bell peppers. They are not a super easy crop, mine are usualy thin, not thick and crunchy like growery store ones.
i'm pretty OK today, how are you? ;^)
Name: Carol
Santa Ana, ca
Sunset zone 22, USDA zone 10 A.
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ctcarol
May 7, 2020 2:58 PM CST
Before you waste time and money on vegetable plants, you need to know how much sun they will get when that mature tree leafs out. Most of your choices require full sun...that means at least 6 hours a day. If those saplings are suckers from the big tree, they need to be removed where they come off the roots. They can be cut at ground level with loppers, but they will come back. You could grow some veggies in large pots (at least five gal. size) or portable planters in sunny spots until you know what seasonal changes are. We often recommend spending a year in a new environment so you know what will do well where. By all means, remove any known weeds ASAP.
Connecticut
Salundy
May 7, 2020 3:49 PM CST
Thanks for the feedback.

Upon further examining the backyard, I realized I have a tremendous amount of work ahead of me. The shed was a disaster this morning and i took it upon myself to start cleaning it out. Picture below of what it looked like before. The backyard is more weeds than actual grass with lots of patchy dirt spots. If i dont take care of those weeds throughout the yard is it going to be pointless addressing the weeds in the garden bed? Picture below of the backyard.

Since i'm just starting out and have a lot of work to do, i'm thinking i'm better off getting a couple of large pots and just growing strawberries already partially grown. Keep it simple and just test out the waters if growing food is really what i want. But getting the backyard cleaned up feels like more of a priority than anything else right now.
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
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gardenfish
May 7, 2020 3:50 PM CST
I agree with Carol. However, the maple , cedar, olive and plantain lily ( hosta ) are certainly not weeds. If you are set on removing them, you might find someone who would be happy to get them. Burdock is a weed. Not sure about what is called an Adams needle, but I suspect that is another name for some kind of yucca. Not a weed, either.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
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stone
May 8, 2020 7:16 AM CST
gardenfish said: the maple , cedar, olive and plantain lily ( hosta ) are certainly not weeds. If you are set on removing them, you might find someone who would be happy to get them. Burdock is a weed. Not sure about what is called an Adams needle, but I suspect that is another name for some kind of yucca. Not a weed, either.

I planted burdock seed on purpose....
I haven't started cooking it yet... It's been slow to get going from seed....
Maybe google burdock recipes?

Whereas... at my house... yucca... very weedy. those flower spikes are pretty enough to leave some... but... it increases like mad from the tubers... and walk near it... get stabbed... So... [I] dig and dig try to get those tubers and free up some space for something edible.

autumn olive... eleagnus?
an invasive... I'd certainly call it a weed.

In Conneticut, It seems like you should have some time yet to do soil prep... long cool Spring up there, and no summer to speak of...

I'd be thinking about carrots and beets, green beans, fava beans, english peas and radishes.

Just because a project seems to be an endless task shouldn't discourage you... at my house... I can plant a row or a single bed of something without worrying about an acre of garden that I have yet to dig...

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
[Last edited by stone - May 8, 2020 7:19 AM (+)]
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Name: Lynda Horn
Arkansas (Zone 7b)
Eat more tomatoes!
Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Container Gardener Lilies Cat Lover Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Zinnias
Organic Gardener Heirlooms Bee Lover Hummingbirder Echinacea Tomato Heads
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gardenfish
May 8, 2020 3:44 PM CST
Well said, Sally! I tip my hat to you.
Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.
Mother Teresa

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