Cleanup: double dose

This is going to be a long post.

Saturday was supposed to be rainy all day, so I was prepared to stay indoors most of the day and possibly sneak outside for a few minutes when a break in the rain happened. Instead, the rains came Friday evening, and Saturday turned sunny and nice, but cooler than it has been lately, so I jumped outside in the morning for some cleanup work.

I started with this small bed all the way in the back corner of my yard.


Some more Japanese Bloodgrass, a patch of bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus) which I hedge-trimmered down in 5 seconds the other day, and a volunteer vine I thought was native Clematis virginiana but might be Clematis ternifolia. (I just learned that when looking up the link for it.)

I chop it back every year so it doesn't get as large, but now that I'm not sure it's the native Clematis, I am considering getting rid of it. I'll have to research more.

You can see a little blueish-green sedge growing there to the right of the vine. There are several of these in this part of my yard, and although I'm pretty sure they're a native sedge (Carex), I'm not sure which one. Could be Carex platyphylla, or Carex flaccosperma.

Here's the bamboo, which has spread nicely and I'll need to think about restricting it's spread further in a couple of directions. I had already been keeping it from going into the lawn, which is my neighbor's.

That job was quickly done, so on to the large bed adjacent to my patio:

The large grass I chopped the other day is to the right. This Chasmanthium latifolium is actually two, and there are seedlings all over my yard -- but that's a story for another day. I like this native grass, so it stays. Just a quick chop.

The Sedum 'Matrona' next to it has been tasted by the deer:

I leave the old stems on the plant to help deter them, but I don't think it helps too much. Maybe it does. This one plant they feel too comfortable coming up to. I need to figure out how to stop them from getting this one, as they usually don't touch the one that is 3 feet further away.

With the grasses gone, the last task in this part of the bed is this Spirea japonica 'Neon Flash', which needs to be pruned a little bit to keep it from getting too large.

I'll just take 8" off or so. Some years I'll take much more, but that's it for this year. Here's what it looks like half-finished:

I also like to take some of the thicker, older stems out each year, cutting them all the way to the ground, but there are only a couple of those this year so that's an easy job.

That's it for that. On to this area:

I don't know if there is a worse-looking bed in my yard right now. This was going to be a groundcover thyme bed. A few years ago I planted six or more different thymes and it was promising at first:

They didn't like the area so well, and all but a few of them died, so last year I put some annuals in there, and stuck in a single post for an annual flowering vine. Here's a closeup of one of the annuals:

They really don't hold up well over winter, do they? Another thing about this bed is some of the thymes and the Santolina icanca 'Nana' spread over the season, and the older parts die, or appear to die.

Sometimes they take a while to wake up and put on new growth, so I'll leave them as they are for a while longer until I'm sure the dead parts are actually dead. Unfortunately it makes the bed stay sort of dreary looking, but it's finished for today:

Time to move on to another task: the front yard. I've been ignoring the front of the house because I don't see it that often. Everybody else does though, so time to get it looking nice -- or at least better. This little bed once contained a short-lived 'Shaina' Japanese maple, but now contains a potted bamboo (which got a ton of winter damage), a Hakonechloa macra, some ivy, some groundcover sedum, Ajuga reptens, some euonymous and "creeping Jenny" (Lysimachia nummularia) which is starting to get out of control.

Here's the "after" shot for comparison:

The only tricky part of this task is thinning out the Jenny. If you don't thin it out, you eventually get this:

Thinning is simple: just grab a handful and yank as much as you can. It's impossible to get rid of it all, so my advice is to be brutal. Just keep ripping it out by the handfuls. I actually think I didn't remove enough, but the bugleweed (Ajuga) will start battling for control of the bed once it warms up more, so it should be okay.

That's it for the first part of the day. Headed inside, got cleaned up, Several hours later it was time to come back outside for round two: the lawn. I'm not a crazy lawn guy who needs to have a perfect, weed-free, lush green carpet. I do know that this is the time of year when the lawn is really... uneven. Some parts have been growing like crazy, while other parts are still waking up.

I'm not going to document my lawn mowings this year, but rest assured that they are occurring. Today I just mowed the front yard.

Now, some quick hits on the rest of the cleanup for today...

This growing patch of Chasmanthium lantifolium plants needs a chop:

Which reveals some euonymous that is getting out of hand:

And there we go -- back in check:

I like the tree stump, as it adds contrast. Big hunk of wood looks better than a bunch more green leaves in this case. A little euonymous is fine, but it quickly spreads, climbs, and can take over. Moving on...

That is the left side of the front porch. That ivy is getting out of hand, and even though I did rake the front yard this Fall, there are always a lot of leaves that blow around during the Winter, and they end up next to the house. So clip, pull, and rake. There was much more ivy than I expected.

Now moving on to the right side of the entry:

More grasses, more leaves. Simple stuff.

There were a lot of ants in there. These aren't fire ants or anything crazy (we don't have them here as far as I know), but they do bite sometimes, so make sure they're not in your gloves or crawling up your arms! Remember, I don't cut the Mexican Feather Grass back, but I did find several seedlings that were growing under the main plant. May have to do some transplanting later.

Moving on to the right...

More creeping Jenny. There are some Heuchera in there, which are being overpowered by the Jenny. So time to yank out handfuls of the stuff.

You might be thinking that I don't like the Jenny. If I didn't like it, I would eradicate it, but I do like it. It's a nice groundcover, and a good color contrast to the darker plants. It just spreads so quickly! (Not uncontrollably, just quickly.)

Gotta keep moving on, as the sun will be setting soon. Moving more to the right:

The deer have been helping with pruning on these, especially the one on the right, so I won't do much with them right now. Once more plants are actively growing the deer will leave these alone (I hope). I will clean up the new growth at the bottom, since I like the exposed trunks.

For the most part, I like natural, unpruned shrubs. In this case though they looked really dull until I removed all of the bottom branches a couple of years ago, so I keep them pruned now. More ivy to pull, and some raking as we move a little more to the right:

That's Hydrangea 'Lady in Red', which is really filling out nicely, and a variegated euonymous next to it, which needs to be pruned a bit as it's spreading in an ugly way. Anyway, rake, rake, rake...

Looks good, and feels better because that's about it for today (except for hauling to the compost pile and putting away the tools). It's been a productive day, but breaking it up into two parts the way I did was good. If I hadn't I would have been out here all day and I would have been too exhausted and sore to really enjoy the gardening.

There is a nice sense of accomplishment, and it will magnify in a couple of weeks when the plants get larger and the ratio of brown to green is much smaller. 

How long did it take?  3:00 
Total time spent on clean-up so far this year: 18:00 (18 hours)

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