A Little Help?

Welcome to my problem spot.

When we moved in, there was a giant, out-of-control forsythia bush bogarting this entire space. Or maybe it was two. Yeah, it was at least two. At any rate, we dug all the bushes up, due to their scraggly beyond-hope nature. This, unfortunately, left a giant dirt pit, devoid of grass. I tried growing herbs and a rosebush here, but they all failed miserably. The rose still lives here, although you can’t see its teeny bare twigs in this picture. (Draw an imaginary line down the edge of the house, and the rose lives about half an inch down from the foundation on that line. Yeah, that bushy thing that looks like just another weed.) I also planted some of Scott’s tiger lilies over on the left, by the fence, and I mulched them today. (You can see the line of red mulch by the fence, barely.)

But OMG, look at the rest!

*puts head in hands*

It looks sunny enough now, but a.) this is just before sunset, and b.) this is still spring. The leaves haven’t come in on that maple tree overhead quite yet.

I can’t dig or roto-till or anything here, really, because our TV coaxial cable runs dangerously close to the surface of the yard. We’d have to be really extra careful if we dug up the dirt, even just to plant grass. I discovered this while I was digging up the area to make it a weed herb garden two years ago.

So, questions. Andrea, if you read this, this is especially for you. Melody, too, but I don’t think you read my blog very much, if at all. (Prove me wrong!) 🙂 Anyone else who’s garden-savvy, go for it. Please.

1.) There are plants coming up that don’t look like standard broadleaf weeds. Should I try to identify these, or just say Fuck It? Some of them look kinda neat, but don’t flower. I wonder if some of my herbs came back (sage in particular)? I do know that some of these are the forsythia trying to make a comeback with its remaining root system. That fucking thing will NOT go away.

2.) WTF should I plant here? Bulbs? Grass? Or mulch it and pretend something should be growing? We don’t have very good luck with grass; we’ve tried growing it in various parts of the front and back yards, and only succeed in killing it with heat and drought in mid-August, while allowing weeds to sprout up mighty fine. And those were in sunny areas. This is very, very shady in summer.

3.) Should I transplant my hybrid tea rose? The foliage keeps coming back (but no buds or blooms), for two springs now, despite the fact that I continually forget to cover it in autumn. It’s shooting up tiny canes and leaves from the crown, and the rest of it is pretty much dead. But the crown is alive, so the rose is alive. Right? So, should I try to move it before it finishes dying, or try to nurse it back to health and strength before I move it, if at all? The place it’s currently living is between partial sun and partial shade, I’d say.

I feel like such a damn failure sometimes. As long as I can Set It And Forget It™, I’m good to go. If forgetting to water for a week will kill a particular plant in a particular spot, well, yeah. That’s how I roll. Although I am thinking about trying a new ghetto irrigation system I read about in You Grow Girl that might work for whatever I try to plant under the overhang this year. We’ll see…

4 thoughts on A Little Help?

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  1. OK, here’s where I try to help. “try” being the operative word.

    one) The only reason you’d want to identify the weeds is to know just how acidic the soil is. That denotes what you can grow in their place. So they don’t look broadleaf, OK. Chances are they’re something that likes disturbed soil, like pineapple weed, burdock, garden-variety thistles/pricker plants, plantain, or chickweed. All edible, but there’s really no reason to try. I say Fuck it.
    If it’s the herbs making a Spring comeback, they’re gonna be the perennial type (sage, thyme,rosemary, basil in rare instances, and oregano/marjoram.) I doubt they’re resurrecting, but it can and has happened.

    Bummer about your coaxial cable laying damn near surface level. That leaves one of two choices fer ya: #1: bury it deeper and have your way with the yard, or #2: make a raised bed for what ever you deem necessary, be it herbs, roses, lilies, WTF. A raised bed (a glorified sandbox full of peat and other dirts with plants instead of tonka toys, but built in pretty much the same fashion) will allow you to avoid the cable, remove most of the contamination of pre-existing grass & weeds by burying the ever-loving shit out of ’em, and it makes a spot you don’t have to mow. I recommend a raised bed for any gardening endeavour you’ve got going on here, especially since I have no idea what the pH is to your soil, the sand content of yer dirt, or what was left nutrient-wise from the Forsythia from the Black Lagoon.

    Just a warning: The maple tree’s going to be competitive towards your garden, be it a raised bed or worked earth. You will find roots in either place, eventually. (Another point in my argument towards a raised bed.)

    two) If you want grass, there’s a shady blend you can find. I’m lousy at planting grass; I’m always trying to eradicate it for other, beneficial plants. Bulbs you must plant at least four inches down, some six, and some eight. With your coaxial problem, I do not recommend ’em. Though, Lily of the Valley like it right next to a foundation, and I don’t think you have to plant ’em too deep, and they like the shade.

    So do hostas.

    three) I cannot grow roses. They are tempramental, whinny primadonna plants. Sorry kiddo, but I am devoid of advice fer ya there.

    Don’t feel like a failure over this gardening stuff. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally to everyone. I know a select few of my acquaintences who can actually pull off growing anything successfully; of those few, two of ’em can throw a stick at the ground and have it be a tree in two years (Elfin freaks!) Keep in mind this is suggestion, not law from me, despite my years of (forced)practice. I hope I could offer some helpful suggestions here. Other than that, I got nothing.

  2. I have lilies of the valley currently growing in a container (see past gardening entries), and was thinking that they might like the mostly-shade next to the house there. They’re entering their active growth right now; do you think it would be OK to transplant them over by the house?

    After reading my “You Grow Girl” book, I’m inclined to think that I have mildly acidic soil, especially with the pine tree dropping needles not far from that maple. I haven’t tested the pH, though — would it be worth it to do that? It’s pretty sandy, too, BTW.

    Thanks for the gardening advice! You rock. I’ll keep you updated.

  3. news: Melissa the Garden Guru at my work says I really need to move my rose to a sunnier spot ASAP. She also says that it might be grafted, in which case the top part having been killed by the winter is a Bad Thing™. I am to keep her updated on its progress. 🙂

    Tell you what, getting garden advice from real people is SO much better than searching the internet or even books.

  4. Kris Plants Grass Everywhere · Wed 26 Apr 2006 at 4:12PM ·

    A shady mix grass seed. mix a some topsoil in with the what appears to be sandy soil. burlap it and water it. you have plenty of *other* areas in your yard that would provide a better area for your gardening. if you guys ever want to get rid of that pesky tree and evergreen in your back yard, i have the name of somebody.