Ask a Question forum: Need help with newly cleared backyard

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Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Jul 6, 2017 7:34 AM CST
It's about .2 acres, was previously overgrown with thick brush and trees. Just cleared it yesterday with a Fecon forestry mulcher, scary stuff if you are brush or a tree -- all that's left is shreds and mulch from brush and trees. Nothing to haul away.

The land is not all leveled- on the right side it slopes up where you see heap of mulch.

-Should we wait till all that mulch dries up?

-Should we burn the big pieces piled on one side?

-Want something low maintenance in place, not grass. Any ideas?

We are first-time homeowners so we are kind of lost as to how to go about this project while keeping costs low (cannot afford landscape designer).

Thank you

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Name: Elena
NYC (Zone 7a)
Daylilies Winter Sowing Hybridizer Peonies Plant and/or Seed Trader Vegetable Grower
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bxncbx
Jul 6, 2017 8:11 AM CST
I guess the question is what do you want? Do you like growing vegetables? Flowers? Would you want to eventually put in a patio, pool or gazebo? With such a blank slate you should really stop and think about how you might want to use the space in the future.

If you have kids now ( or want them in the future) would you want a swing set or maybe an area to practice sports?

Once you figure out your ideal use(s) for the space (even if you don't have the time or $$ now) then we can give you better suggestions. No point in spending the time and money to make raised beds only to tear them all out in a couple of years to put in a pool!
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Jul 6, 2017 8:12 AM CST
Someone more local will have to advise you about an appropriate ground cover. I would get rid of the big stuff, and just spread any other mulch around.
Porkpal
Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Jul 6, 2017 8:40 AM CST
porkpal said:Someone more local will have to advise you about an appropriate ground cover. I would get rid of the big stuff, and just spread any other mulch around.


Thank you for the response. Can you please say more when you say I need someone local to advise on appropriate ground cover. What is ground cover?

Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jul 6, 2017 10:08 AM CST
You could always turn the "big stuff" into berms or hugelkultur beds rather than burn it. A berm might help control water run-off on that slope. Groundcover - aggressive plants that can cover the ground providing some green. Using groundcovers doesn't mean you won't get weeds in it and they're harder to eradicate as you'd be restricted using weed killers.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: stone
near Macon Georgia (USA) (Zone 8a)
Plant Identifier Garden Sages Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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stone
Jul 6, 2017 11:46 AM CST
Actually....
Now is a good time to practice patience.
That material is eventually going to turn into soil amendments.... But.... There's nothing you can do now that won't be a lot of work for very little gain.

In a year or two, (or three), you can think about doing something with that space, but.... Until that material has had time to begin decomposing.... It would be an incredible amount of work to do anything there....
Believe me.... I speak from experience....
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 6, 2017 12:45 PM CST
I would scrape the large stuff , including some chips, to an area that appears to have vegetation there that will soon be annoying and burn it there.
That will kill the weeds in the ground and give you some ash for fertilizer.
Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Jul 7, 2017 7:53 AM CST
@Shadegardener:

What is berm? Do you mean move all those big stuff (big = 6-10 inch long and thick) and create a barrier of some sort? I need some kind of demarcation between my property and the one in the back now that I have cleared the land. Would it be good to simply move this pile of big chips on the back to clear a demarcation? But then over time these will rot I suppose- which is OK and I can plant some short trees in that area. Does this make sense?

And rest of the small chips (still about 6-10 inch long but thinner) would simply decay?

Can I just throw grass seeds in September and will they grow? I am sure I have to keep killing all the sprouts from brush roots that are still in the ground.
Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jul 7, 2017 8:06 AM CST
Random - here's a quick explanation -
https://www.permaculture.co.uk...
I was thinking the mound of wood debris might make a great berm or small mound as the demarcation you mention. Also would make a great planting area next year for shrubs or even small trees. DD in MI is using hugel beds for vegetables and ornamentals with great success without using much fertilizer. Lay out the big stuff where you want your berm and add in the wood chips. If you can find some soil elsewhere on your property to throw on top to fill in some of the crevices along with the wood chips, that would be fantastic. You could also throw grass clippings in there as well. It's kind of a way to make that debris work for you rather than having to dispose of it. As for grass, good to wait until mid-Aug through mid-Sept for sowing cool season grass seed (like fescue or Kentucky bluegrass) as our summers are too hot for little sprouts to survive without an adequate root system.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Sally
central Maryland
Seriously addicted to kettle chips.
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sallyg
Jul 7, 2017 8:09 AM CST
True that you should expect a lot of sprouts in the cleared area. Planting grass and mowing, would control a lot of that. And grass is relatively easy to get rid of later. Under trees, it will not thrive, long term, anyway.

A decent layer of mulch will help a lot with sprouts too.
edited
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Life is a buffet (anon)
[Last edited by sallyg - Jul 7, 2017 8:13 AM (+)]
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Name: Rj
Just S of the twin cities of M (Zone 4b)
Garden Ideas: Level 1 Plant Identifier Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
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crawgarden
Jul 7, 2017 8:09 AM CST
Find the extension service associated with your county, Master Gardeners associated with your extension service can be a great help as far as questions and ideas.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Jul 8, 2017 8:29 AM CST
Attached a couple of pictures of the mulch left behind.. I have collected what I thought was large stuff in a pile- see picture. do you think rest of the mulch is still big and I should clear the entire land or leave alone and let it be till I plant grass in Fall? This is about 0.2 acre so not a very large area by the way.

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Name: Cindy
Hobart, IN zone 5
aka CindyMzone5
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Shadegardener
Jul 8, 2017 8:32 AM CST
You can leave that mulch in place until you're ready to sow grass seed in the fall. The mulch will help keep down the weeds that would inevitably pop up on bare ground. When you're ready to plant seed, rake up the mulch first.
Only when the last tree has died and the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught will we realize that we can't eat money. Cree proverb
Name: Deb
Planet Earth, Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Ferns Dragonflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
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Bonehead
Jul 8, 2017 8:54 AM CST
To establish a line between properties, you might consider a double or triple staggered row of mixed shrubs/trees. Native plants would be a great choice for that, and fall is usually a good time for planting in most regions. I'd go heavy on the shrubs, think carefully about what trees you use, and perhaps leave some pockets for future perennials or some hardscaping (a little 2-chair patio, a water feature, or a bird feeding station tucked in would be lovely). I would avoid a straight line of columnar arborvitae or a hedge, but some folks like that symmetry, and that would work as well. Or you might approach the neighbor and see if they are interested in splitting the costs for a good-neighbor fence (equally attractive on both sides). Depends on how much privacy you want, and how quickly.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Minnesota (Zone 3b)
RpR
Jul 8, 2017 11:08 AM CST
bxncbx said:I guess the question is what do you want? Do you like growing vegetables? Flowers? Would you want to eventually put in a patio, pool or gazebo? With such a blank slate you should really stop and think about how you might want to use the space in the future.

This is the best advice given.
Low Maintenance---- is easy to say but VERY hard to achieve in reality.
Weeds LOVE, low maintenance.

Do you have any real plans in your mind?
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jul 8, 2017 11:38 AM CST
since you are trying to fill a space without spending lots of money-
Shrubs are your friend, plant a mixture of similar sized shrubs all around the perimeter of the property. Choose some that bloom spring, summer, or have purple foliage, or nice fall color ect. Holly-evergreen, or yews. Panicle hydrangeas-I've had no luck w the other kinds, or the oakleafs do well for me. These will grow about 6-8 ft wide. Then you just need to mulch the area heavily or lay old cardboard layers ect around that area for 2-3 years until the shrubs have time to fill out. Lilac, forsythia, wigelia, burning bushes, ect.

Next, choose a couple of trees for the yard unless you want full sun.
Choose trees that will add interest, be affordable and not get too large. Crab apple, dogwood, redbud, small cherry, ect. Do not choose anything that actually gets fruit. The lot is too small and you will have a bee attracting stinky mess unless you really do want to have a fruit tree. ? Site the trees where they will shade patio, house, or whatever you want when they are mature. You can lay mulch around them also. Add some large rocks (sometimes you can pick up rocks on craigs list or freecycle ect) around the trees, this makes it less tempting for you to get too close w mower/weedeater and harm tree.

Third, till an area and work in some compost. You can line it out with concrete stones of some kind-you can get these on sale pretty affordably. This will give you a place to plant veggies, herbs, or cut flowers. Zinnias, marrigolds grow fast from seed.

If your soil is pretty compacted, you can lay a walkway around the yard.
I just laid these on dirt. They last for ever and are very affordable, about $1 each here.
I just buy them a little at a time and bring them home in my van.


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Fourth if you want flowers, and don't want alot of care, choose the old standbys. Peony-comes back every year and they get large enough to crowd out the weeds. Smell divine, bloom spring.
Knock out roses, fuss free, adds color and they are hardy. Pink, red, or yellow. Cheap you can buy them at lowes.
Daylilies, hosta and iris, all very hardy, bloom, and you can choose from an array of patterns and colors.
Spireas are pretty shrubs, some don't get very big and you can cut them back, they flower pretty and have nice foliage. inexpensive.
hibiscus, crepe myrtles, ect. Just go to Lowes and see what is on the clearance rack.
Brown eyed susan, daisies and mums, fennel ect coneflowers are nice.

Next, you can lay some concrete pavers down and add a birdbath, some rocks and some sun loving plants like sedum. sort of a rock garden, but do it on the concrete pavers. This is easy to care for, the birds like it and the weeds will be minimal.

If you really want to go all out, you can put in a small pond. Choose a site closer to the house where you can see it and have electric (outlet on the back?) Since you are on a budget, I suggest go shopping for a liner first, then dig the hole. 2 ft deep is usually enough for goldfish, you can dig a small part deeper for them if you like. If you don't get too large with it, you can just make a filter homemade(youtube this) and just use your free craigs list rocks. Do not add koi, they get too large for that and are fussier than gf. Add lots of rocks around the area-this will take up some space. You could use cattle panels to make an arch and plant vines-clematis, gourds, honeysuckle.

Make a compost area -you can screen it off w plants, stones, or straw, lattice ect.

Just spread the mulch out around these areas. Put the larger stuff in your compost pile.

Doing all of this will take 2-3 summers most likely, but after you get it done and it is growing, you will have no grass. You will have a pretty place with things to enjoy caring for. There will always be some weeds, just pull them and put on compost.



springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jul 8, 2017 11:42 AM CST
ps some cities offer free or cheap mulch, compost. Sometimes you can get mulch by from the electric company if you call and ask. I mulch using straw. Mulch is what keeps the weeds out. Must use lots of mulch to keep down weed, hold in moisture and enrich the soil over time.
Name: Deb
Planet Earth, Pacific NW (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Ferns Dragonflies Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge)
Dog Lover Native Plants and Wildflowers Keeper of Poultry Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Birds Garden Ideas: Master Level
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Bonehead
Jul 8, 2017 11:45 AM CST
Great advise Frilly - sounds lovely. One common error (in my mind) is when folks use boulders they often just plunk them onto the top of the ground willy-nilly. I think they look much more natural when buried 1/3 into the ground, in various sizes, and in groups of odd numbers. I love love incorporating rocks into beds.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Random Bunny
Indiana
random_bunny75
Jul 8, 2017 12:18 PM CST
@Frillylily: Thank you, that is some excellent advice. I am quite a novice at this being a first-time homeowner. So after we cleared our land (quite small actually- 0.2 acres), I am feeling overwhelmed Blinking looking at the mulched up brush, shrubs and small trees that were taken down by the forestry mulcher (the mean machine that cleared the land of all the thick brush and trees in about an hour). I guess I am a bit lost as to how to manage all this mulch- some posters ask how big is the mulch (I guess they mean if this mulched up stuff even qualify as mulch)- so I posted a couple of pictures above of how the ground looks like with mulch. Then there are stumps of the brush and trees that came down with elaborate root system underneath which is I am sure is going to start sprouting. So I think managing this situation is the first task and on a parallel track need to start planning for landscape. What are your thoughts here after looking at the pictures?

I am also posting pictures below of how the yard looks from left to right in that order.

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Jul 8, 2017 3:44 PM CST
that mulch is pretty chunky, rake it all up and pile it in a spot for compost. Use it in 2 or 3 years. In the mean time, throw whatever on it. You can use kitchen scraps too, no meat or dairy. (it stinks and can draw critters) Just google about home compost pile and you can get the basics. It doesn't have to be fancy. I used some concrete blocks and stacked them 3 deep. about 8x8 and I just toss it all in, leaves, plant trimmings, extra mulch, or straw, kitchen scraps ect. You would be amazed at how much you can pile on there and it all just shrinks down to nothing after a short time. It is great because you don't have to haul anything away or worry about burning. You can add eggshells, but I don't. you can use wood shavings, or shredded paper, or grass clippings. I avoid adding invasive weeds if they have seeds on them. don't dump kitty litter on it, it's basically clay. Some say the cat droppings are not safe for veggie gardens. You may even have neighbors that will give you mulched leaves or grass clippings, especially in the spring and fall.

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