It didn’t take long after my husband and I moved into our two bedroom bungalow in Denver to be overwhelmed by the amount of work our new home needed. Of course, when you buy a renovator, you are well aware of the weeks or months of DIY projects on the horizon. We were prepared for the necessary practical work on the interiors.
But the ever-increasing challenges of outdoor space caught us off guard.
We bought our house in the fall, but in the spring bloom it was an obvious mess: no one had touched the garden in ages and neither of us knew anything about gardening.
We postponed tackling the backyard for a year, and by the time we were ready to take out the pruners, what had once been an average inconvenience had turned into a veritable sprouting disaster. Our enemies: three types of invasive trees, including the badly named tree of paradise, a lawn composed mainly of weeds, and the devil’s favorite plant, Virginia creeper.
Three years later, we have managed to turn most of the fiasco into something wonderful. How did we do this? Read on to find out how to get started and kill these weeds for real.
Take out your favorite meditation app and hit play before removing a single bush.
“Take a deep breath and know that recovering your backyard from weeds is doable but won’t happen overnight,” says Amy enfield, a consumer horticulturalist with ScottsMiracle-Gro.
“Take on one area of the yard at a time,” advises Enfield. “Start by salvaging the back patio or cleaning the landscaped beds.”
There are two strategies here: do the more difficult and stressful thing first, or choose something small and easy to quickly feel accomplished. There is no wrong choice. To start somewhere.
Make good use of the weedkiller
It is not enough to pull out the weeds. To kill them for good, you’ll want to hit the weeds with a punch: spray them with a weed killer before pulling them out. (And then spray the area again.)
This is because perennial weeds, which come back year after year, have deep and complex root systems.
“If you don’t remove the entire root system, weeds can grow back from the remaining pieces,” explains Joe tomasiello, the Managing Director of Florida Lawn Maintenance Company Dean’s services.
A herbicide ensures that your “weeds are killed right down to the roots,” says Tomasiello.
There is a lot of debate about the safety of commercial weed spraying, so you could make your own with ingredients you have at home rather than buying one in store. Whichever approach you prefer, now is the time to go scorched earth on your, well, earth.
Get rid of your weeds quickly
Tempted to leave all the weeds pulled up in piles on your lawn? We understood. But leaving a pile of weeds only perpetuates the problem.
“Poor weed control can actually cause these seeds to spread, leaving you exactly where you started,” says Tomasiello.
If you sprayed them with a herbicide, your weeds are 100% dead. But if you pull them by hand, the plants are “still alive and can spread,” he says.
Destroy your weeds by burning them or placing them in a black garbage bag and leaving it in the sun for at least two weeks.
Check with your city for disposal options or try the landfill
Unfortunately, many dumpster companies restrict what materials you can throw in their trash cans, and they often throw out things like trees, excessive bushes, or dirt. Or maybe you just don’t want to put $ 460 in a dumpster. Fair enough!
You’re in luck: Many cities offer garden waste collection or drop-off points, Enfield says. (Keep in mind that you may need to purchase special garden waste bags for your weeds and branches.)
Determining the schedule for your city can save you a small amount of money. And if you can’t find any information online, go ahead and call: not all shows are advertised.
No chance? All is not lost, especially if you have access to a truck.
“If you’re looking to get rid of large tree branches and other larger garbage, talk to your local dump,” says Tomasiello. “Most municipal landfills allow you to get rid of large waste for free or for a small fee. “
You can also search for disposal companies. While the restrictions can make your search more difficult, you can usually find a company happy to take your trash in exchange for money.
Keep control of yard maintenance
You’ve emptied your pile of weeds. Congratulations! But if you don’t take proactive steps now, you’ll be back to square one in a year.
“Once you’ve recovered your backyard from weeds, it’s important to stay on top of the situation,” says Enfield. “A small weed problem can quickly turn into a big weed problem if not controlled early.”
While you can use your leftover herbicide to stay on top of the new growth, you can also use good old-fashioned manual labor. Devoting an hour or two every weekend to weed removal will keep your garden in good shape. And as the years go by and fewer weeds are laying seeds on your lawn, you’ll find that you’ll spend less time pulling and more time hanging out.
Grow something new
One of the best ways to keep weeds away is to plant new shoots. What you choose depends on your aesthetic goals.
If you’re a traditionalist, a beautiful, lush, grassy yard “will choke out any weeds that try to sprout,” says Tomasiello.
Make sure you choose the perfect grass for your area, aerate your dirt, and fertilize regularly. Don’t know how to grow a lawn? (Don’t worry, we were too.) Your local garden center will offer some great advice.
You can also choose to landscap your lawn and use mulch or stones to keep the rest of the dirt weed-free. This eco-friendly option requires the use of local plants to create a natural landscape that uses less water, thus helping the environment (and your outdoor appeal).
Don’t let an overgrown lawn overwhelm you. By taking a deep breath and tackling your issues one by one, you will soon have your disputed space.