Caution: New Garden Under Construction

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.   

The Before Picture — Back of the Garage

The Before Picture — Back of the Garage

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.

New Shrub Garden

New Shrub Garden


Nice Top Soil

Nice Top Soil

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.  


Delivery the Mulch with my Pickup

Delivering the Mulch with my Pickup

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?

4 comments on “Caution: New Garden Under Construction

  1. blossom

    It is a challenge alright. But I bet it’s worth the effort. You’ll have a lovely garden in no time. I would love to see it some day. Good luck!

  2. Jonathan

    Also a good spot for that quince you were saving up!

    1. jw

      Yes, I definitely want to get that Toyo-Nishiki Quince out of its pot this year. Unfortunately I noticed that the rabbits have been chewing the bark — not a good sign. It’s got lots of buds but it’s nearly girdled on one of the branches. The older big red Quince has never had any damage from animals.

  3. gail

    I’ve noticed that the critters that tunnel in my garden have had an active few weeks! Where does your GH tunnel out? I do think that a wall climber might be nice…a native vine like a lonicera that has pretty color, smells nice and will give a pleasant vertical to the planting bed. Bees love it and will pollinate your other plants. gail