The area behind and to the side of our garage has been a perennial sore spot. At times it has been the place we put the trash, old construction materials, or unused mulch bags. Over time it has accumulated some pernicious weeds (Virginia Creeper, Multiflora Roses, Blackberries, Poison Ivy). At one point we put down landscaping fabric and put mulch on top of it. Eventually the weeds came back but even before that our scheme was foiled by Woodchucks which insisted that the area under the garage is their claimed territory. And when they dug their holes the earth came out on top of the mulch and landscaping material and provided a nursery ground for the weeds.
Nevertheless, as our horticultural pursuits press outward from the yard per se, we aim to give this spot a try again. Yesterday and today I knocked down the standing weeds with my Mattock and then brought in 8 or 9 scoops of topsoil with the front-end loader from the large reserve we have in the pasture. I didn’t take out the landscaping fabric which is already covered with years of mulch and deposited earth. It’s broken in many places but would be a real pain to remove as well. This is an awkward spot to rototill in any case and to plant shrubs we just need to dig a hole where the plants will go. I raked the soil into place and left it to settle in.
This garden is going to be facing two special challenges (beyond all the normal gardening vicissitudes). First the Groundhog is still there under the garage and he’s already dug his entrance again after I filled it in. I’ve trapped and trapped that family so that they now have a whole extended clan down by the Monocacy River. I’m not sure what else to do. And the weeds haven’t gone away. They are all just under the surface waiting for more of this really pleasant weather to pop up. So the plan is to mulch the hell out of this bank. Our local landfill sells double ground mulch for $8.50 a ton. I picked up two tons (1 ton = 1 pickup load) today and I’ll get more next week.
So the idea is that somehow we will find some low maintenance, highly attractive shrubs that will dominate over the weeds and yet not be invasive themselves. This is not an easy challenge. The location gets a fair amount of sun but is sort of a sun/shade exposure thanks in part to the neighboring White Pine. So far we’re thinking maybe Hydrangea, Potentilla, Clethra, or Viburnum, mixed in with some substantial grasses. We already have a number of Holly, Nandina, and Pieris in the yard so probably not those even though the Holly would fit our needs very well. Any other ideas?