How to prepare large overgrown area for planting?


The full length of my back yard (about 70 feet long by 16 feet deep) is overrun with wild violets and other unwanted plants/weeds. Though it's usually quite pretty and requires zero work, they've started to migrate into the yard, regardless of the 2 ft. border I added to separate the two areas. I've come to the conclusion that I want to take on the task of converting the area into a shade/hosta garden (I know, it's a large area!)

My big question mark though is how I should kill everything in there to start with my blank canvas? It's about 90% wild violets. I'm worried about using a weed killer as I don't want to make the soil unusable this year. Once I get everything taken out, I plan to lay landscape plastic and mulch. It will probably take me a few years to plant all the plants I want, but at least it will be tailored until I complete it. Any ideas or thoughts?

I've attached a picture from two years ago (background in the image). This is before we went through and manually pulled out all the overgrowth of some tall plant/weed that you see. Without that stuff it's much nicer looking with just the violets. I tried planting hostas in with the wild violets but they're too aggressive and choke everything out.

Thumbnail by Lauratron
Virginia Beach, VA

I had a similar situation 2 years ago where I wanted a new bed but not as shady as yours. It was zoysia grass and now it is a beautiful bed. I did lasagna gardening where i covered the grass with thick corrugated boxes and put thick compost. i compost everything so I had all this big pile to use. After one year it is a beautiful garden but i can not post it because I am on vacation.

Go ahead and weed wack the weeds or violets and clear the area then apply thick corrugated boxes and newspaper. I do not use round up. I also do not use landscape plastics or fabric because it does not disintegrate and it is hard to plant.If you do not have compost you can start by saving all grass clippings and compost kitchen scraps.

The fastest way is cover with the corrugated boxes buy good dirt and walla you are set.

I posted pictures last year.You can probably view it by searching bellieg posts. . Good luck. Belle

This message was edited Apr 10, 2011 1:11 PM

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

Here's the info on doing a lasagna garden

Thanks for the replies. My biggest concern with the lasagna method is being able to come up with enough compost to cover that large of an area. I think this project may be too large for something like that, though I really like the idea!

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

You don't have to do true compost but just grass clippings and leaves over cardboard or newspaper would work great.
Everyone new bed I do I just use newspaper and wet it down, but since you are dealing with a lot of weedy plants you'll need a little more than that(unless you rake it or till it out some before layering)

Virginia Beach, VA

You can do it but it takes time. Start now and next spring you will have a nice bed. My newest bed took a whole year but again we compost everything and I have tons of compost behind our shed. take your time and plan very well. Belle

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how long you have to wait to plant after using something like Roundup?

We might actually not have to do anything major. My husband spent the day really cleaning the area out of debris and leaves and we are getting a good look at what we've got to take out. The wild violet roots are actually quite easy to pull up by hand. There's a good chance that we'll be able to manually remove most of the cover in the area. :)

central, NJ(Zone 6b)

This is the info from Scotts website
For regular Round Up
All ornamental flowers, trees and shrubs may be planted one day after application. Lawn grasses, herbs, vegetables and fruit may be planted 3 days after application.
For the Extended Control Round up, you need to wait 4 months

Princeton, KS

I have roundup on Day 1. Tilled and planted on Day 2 with zero problem before.

Virginia Beach, VA

How is your bed coming along? Belle

It's not really going anywhere yet, other than cleaning the area up. It's been much too cold to work on it--unseasonably cold Spring! We're just waiting for a warm day so we can continue the process :(

Princeton, KS

It has been unseasonably cold her as well. I am quite tired of it!

Indianapolis, IN

Wow! What a nice area when it's all said and done. I like the person's suggestion on the newspapers and mulch. I would run not walk away from that lawn plastic stuff. I put that down one year and I am still trying to get that stuff up. What a waste. If I had an area I was starting from scratch I would definitely think ahead to what type of watering system I planned to use. Whether it be a drip or a spray nozzle I would set the ground work for that now. I put mine in after the fact and that made for so much more work. I have been wanting to know about a device that is used for moisture tester. Does anyone have any information on this website; Also, because you have some shaded area going on I think you're going to want to know moisture test results.

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