Ask a Question forum: HELP! Thistle and other weeds taking over LARGE daylily bed!

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Name: Ann Cammack
Greenfield, WI (Zone 5b)
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AnnC
Aug 21, 2013 8:44 AM CST
I planted hybrid daylily assortment on large front yard hill to avoid having to mow this steep hill. I started it about 10 years ago. It looked gorgeous for many years. However, having babies, being busy yada yada yada....I have let it go!

I am embarrassed by how bad and overgrown with weeds it looks! I want to do whatever I have to do to make it look nice again.

But I don't know where to start. The area is roughly 30 feet long by 10 feet wide. I am including an OLD picture of it.

I know thistle is the worst culprit. There is also something else tall and bushy growing that I can photograph if necessary. I did a bad thing and tried to kill the weeds with round up. Some spray spread to my lilies and damaged some growth.

I need to get out there this coming fall and do what I need to make this garden area beautiful again. BUT I NEED ADVICE on how to do it and what to use. My husband has offered to help me with this. We can get free mulch from the city along with leaf mold (if that helps)

THANKS FOR ANY HELP YOU CAN OFFER ME!
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Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
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chelle
Aug 21, 2013 9:23 AM CST
Hi, Ann. Welcome! to ATP!

I'm in much the same situation here. The way I've handled it before (and had great results) is to -

Go ahead and mulch it. Chop down or pull away any major weeds so you'll have space between plants, but get some coarse mulch down. Pile it at least 4" deep in between your daylilies. This will allow moisture to settle into the soil, making it easier to pull the big weeds out later, and it'll smother new sprouts and seedlings. Once the weather cools and your soil is moist dig out any weeds that are still showing, trying to get as much root as possible with each one. Then make certain the newly weeded section is recovered with mulch. Continue down the line, a bit at a time. Don't try to tackle the whole bed it in a single day, just do sections at a time...it's more apt to be done well if you concentrate on smaller bits in each session than if you feel pressed to have it all shined-up in a day.

If you absolutely feel that you want to risk using Roundup again, perhaps for a particularly troublesome weed, just put a dribble in a disposable plastic cup and carefully paint it on the weed's leaves with an artist's brush. To me this takes more time than it's usually worth, but I know that those hateful thistles can be a real bear!

The number one best tip that I've learned and can pass along is to keep some coarse mulch handy at all times. If you have to drop what you're doing to go round some up, the weeds will get away from you again. If you keep the soil covered at all times, weeds will be few and far between...mostly popping up just in the center of your plants rather than everywhere you look. Smiling
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Name: Louise
East Texas, zones 7b/8a
Garden Ideas: Level 1
louise
Aug 21, 2013 9:33 AM CST
I have the same problem with the lily bed in my front yard. I'm thinking of seriously just , with a shovel,
taking each clump out of the bed and placing (perhaps on a large tarp) in the shade. Then, the bed can
be tilled up deeply, more easily clear of grass, fertilized, amended. Then move the lilies back into the
nice rich clean bed where it can be much more easily maintained. I have about eleven different ones
and would be sad to lose any of them.

Louise
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
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chelle
Aug 21, 2013 9:46 AM CST
louise said:I have the same problem with the lily bed in my front yard. I'm thinking of seriously just , with a shovel,
taking each clump out of the bed and placing (perhaps on a large tarp) in the shade. Then, the bed can
be tilled up deeply, more easily clear of grass, fertilized, amended. Then move the lilies back into the
nice rich clean bed where it can be much more easily maintained. I have about eleven different ones
and would be sad to lose any of them.

Louise


This is a lot of work for short-term gain, however; as you till or turn over the soil, more weed seeds and roots will be brought to the surface to sprout. Without the mulch they'll be back very quickly, and thicker than ever before. After many years of too much toil I've learned to dig only during the transplanting or dividing of plants... and in doing so, keeping those thousands of little time-bombs buried. The birds and wind will bring in more all the time too, but a good layer of coarse mulch will lessen the chance of them reaching the soil where they can get a good foothold in your garden.

Smiling

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Name: Greene
Savannah, GA (Sunset 28) (Zone 8b)
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greene
Aug 21, 2013 9:52 AM CST
Am I the only person who uses Preen? I pull up the weed, sprinkle some Preen, add thick layer of mulch, Preen again water it in. Just do a small area each work day until it's done, slow and steady.
Sunset Zone 28, AHS Heat Zone 9, USDA zone 8b~~"Leaf of Faith"
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 21, 2013 10:10 AM CST
Chelle is absolutely right. I had a pretty graphic demonstration of that, too. I had a raised bed that I planted a few daylilies in, and only had enough mulch to cover half the bed. The following spring....Yow! The mulched side had a few, easily controlled weeds poking up. The other side was a mess! And that was with a much thinner layer of mulch than Chelle is recommending. I'm also fighting the same sort of problem in my rose bed. I'm slowly getting the larger weeds out and mulch laid down and the mulch is making a huge difference in new weed growth.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 21, 2013 10:16 AM CST
I just discovered that you can also buy mulch that has Preen already in it! But I thought you weren't supposed to use Preen around daylilies? I know you're not supposed to use it with everything, the mfr recommends not using it with iris or clematis.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Aug 21, 2013 11:17 AM CST
greene said:Am I the only person who uses Preen? I pull up the weed, sprinkle some Preen, add thick layer of mulch, Preen again water it in. Just do a small area each work day until it's done, slow and steady.


I have tried Preen twice. Both times I did not feel like it worked well at all! Of course I bought two big bins of it on sale, AND two people gave me bins also! Just a couple weeks ago I moved it all onto a co-worker

Currently I am not a mulcher. I have a horsetail problem the the mulch makes the problem much worse. I am stuck just being a poor weed puller for now.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
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Leftwood
Aug 21, 2013 12:47 PM CST
Yes, the worst thing about tilling is breaking up rhizomes and stolons of grasses and thistle that will produce brand new plants. I suspect that all around the edges of the daylily bed, grass has invaded. Mulching will not cure this, as the already established grass will come up through the mulch. Barring a chemical approach, I suggest that you will need to dig and remove the grass at the edges, and probably need to dig some of the edge daylilies to extricate the grass roots from the plants. Then mulch.
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 21, 2013 12:53 PM CST
Rick is right; grass is a whole 'nother story! I do seem to recall reading something about being able to use grass-specific weed killers around daylilies, you just have to be careful not to use it when the scapes are forming. And it will make the plants look strange for a while. But I'm not sure where I read that, so don't trust me on this! Does anyone else have any experience with using grass killers (NOT Roundup!) around daylilies?
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Jennifer
48036 MI (Zone 6b)
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jvdubb
Aug 21, 2013 12:57 PM CST
I have used Grass Be Gone around iris but not yet around daylilies. Not a huge fan of chemicals but I do like the Grass Be Gone
Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
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woofie
Aug 21, 2013 1:20 PM CST
There's an interesting and extensive discussion of controlling weeds around daylilies over the the daylily forum. I haven't read it all the way through, but it looks to be worth reading:
The thread "Controlling Weeds" in Daylilies forum
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
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eclayne
Aug 21, 2013 1:24 PM CST

Plants Admin

I don't grow daylilies but, if their root structure is like Siberian Iris, I've dealt with a similar situation albeit about 1/3 the size. A bed neglected for several years had been invaded a wide variety of weeds including grasses, ground ivy and many other unknown plants.

The first year I removed all of those weeds which were visible and mulched with pine bark chunks. By year end many weeds, particularly the grasses were back "within" the clumps of Iris.

I dealt with this 10 x 10 area the following spring, in stages, over several evenings. I dug each clump and realized I had to divide them in order to remove the grass runners and rhizomes as well as possible. Then replanted, re-edged the bed and finally mulched.

I've read too many negative reports regarding the use of Roundup type products, even those designed to only affect grasses, to use them on or near some perennials.
Evan
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
I'm always on my way out the door..
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Forum moderator Garden Sages Garden Ideas: Master Level Dog Lover Cottage Gardener
Native Plants and Wildflowers Plant Identifier Organic Gardener Keeps Horses Hummingbirder Hosted a Not-A-Raffle-Raffle
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chelle
Aug 21, 2013 1:26 PM CST
Leftwood said:Yes, the worst thing about tilling is breaking up rhizomes and stolons of grasses and thistle that will produce brand new plants. I suspect that all around the edges of the daylily bed, grass has invaded. Mulching will not cure this, as the already established grass will come up through the mulch. Barring a chemical approach, I suggest that you will need to dig and remove the grass at the edges, and probably need to dig some of the edge daylilies to extricate the grass roots from the plants. Then mulch.


Yep. I agree

I like to trench the edges of my open beds in the fall. Autumn into winter, and winter into spring are rampant creepy-crawly grass invasion times; trenching slows it way down. If there's still a lowered edge when mowing season starts I fill it in with mulch. It'll still try to get in, but it's much more difficult for it to get established quicker than I can keep up with it. I didn't trench last year, more's the pity. Now I'm forced to play catch-up. Whistling (At some point anyway Hilarious! ...much too hot to work on it today!)


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Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
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Paul2032
Aug 21, 2013 1:35 PM CST
Preen is successfully used to stop seed germination by many iris growers including myself without any problem. Late in the fall you might try trimming your DL's back and covering a few at a time as you spray the perennial weeds in that area with a mixture of Round-Up and Weed Be Gone. Use full strength Round-up mixed with a little water. Grass Be Gone has worked well in my garden on the difficult perennial grasses. Fall is a great time to spray as the plants will draw the spray down and kill the roots....our goal
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
[Last edited by Paul2032 - Aug 21, 2013 2:07 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Aug 21, 2013 2:09 PM CST
Paul2032 said: Use full strength Round-up mixed with a little water.

If you are thinking about taking this advice, ask Paul to explain in detail. The active ingredient in Round up comes bottled in different concentrations, and even more so now that there are knock off brands. And who knows what is meant by "a little water"?!?!?! Please don't guess!
Name: Paul
Utah (Zone 5b)
Grandchildren are my greatest joy.
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Paul2032
Aug 21, 2013 2:13 PM CST
I must admit that I guessed as to the amount of water. I knew that the premixed Round-up wasn't strong enough. On second thought I think it would be better if no one tried this.
Paul Smith Pleasant Grove, Utah
[Last edited by Paul2032 - Aug 21, 2013 2:21 PM (+)]
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Name: woofie
NE WA (Zone 5a)
Charter ATP Member Garden Procrastinator Greenhouse Dragonflies Plays in the sandbox I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
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woofie
Aug 21, 2013 3:22 PM CST
Just remember, Roundup is supposed to kill EVERYTHING! I have heard way too many tales of desirable plants being killed off by a drift of Roundup.
Confidence is that feeling you have right before you do something really stupid.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
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RickCorey
Aug 21, 2013 4:16 PM CST
I had something nasty growing right through the middle of my favorite red-pink-white Rhododendron, and merely cutting it at ground level didn't discourage it enough.

So I saved a heavy plastic bag that had held 2 cubic feet of mulch and rammed as much of the nasty thing into it as i could.

Then I sprayed it well inside the plastic bag, and left it tied up tight for a few hours.

Then I sprayed it again with a different herbicide and left it tied up overnight. I forget when I finally untied it, but it was dry enough that the Rhodie didn't complain.

One other time, I thought I could safely spray some Ranunculus without hitting a nearby Azalea. The Ranunculus had invaded from the neighbor's yard. it also engulfed my only tulip. Ate the bulb, as far as I can tell.

I didn't use a plastic barrier. There was no serious effect on the Ranunculus, but that Azalea still looks like it caught Harry Dresden's death curse.

<-- Rhodie did fine. ----> Azealea looks pink when the sun is too bright. No weeds shown in these photos.
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Ranunculus
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[Last edited by RickCorey - Aug 21, 2013 4:21 PM (+)]
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Name: Ann Cammack
Greenfield, WI (Zone 5b)
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AnnC
Aug 26, 2013 9:19 AM CST
THANK YOU SO MUCH!

After this current heat spell I am going to go out and get rid of as much as I can. Once fall hits and cooler weather comes I will go out and methodically pull, mulch and most likely get some preen down under the mulch.

I hate to admit but I have never mulched since I planted. Ugh! Learned my lesson the hard way!

I REALLY appreciate all of your advice. What a wonderful community!

Ann

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