Gardening Q: how to balance preventing weeds vs. encouraging flowers to re-seed

I put out some ground covers (sedum: like thisand this) around where we’ve been adding perennials, and that stuff is an AMAZING ground cover. Spreads to form a dense mat, but it’s got such shallow roots that it’s still easy to control and remove from areas where I don’t want it (and then tossed into bare patches where I do!) It looks great in bloom and has done a bang-up job of crowding out weeds and preventing any new ones from sprouting.

So good, in fact, that they eliminated the larkspur. :frowning: While I’ve had lovely stands of larkspurs for a couple of years running, not a single one sprouted this spring … because the sedum had spread and completely covered the area where it had been growing.

It’s that time of year when gardeners who’ve planted bluebonnets are sporting lovely blue front lawns. I want to do the same. However … how do I keep them coming back each year (they’re annuals and re-seed after blooming) while also preventing weeds with mulch and/or groundcovers?

TL/DR: how do I discourage weed seeds from sprouting while still encouraging desirable flowers/herbs/etc. to re-seed? Do you put down the mulch after the seedlings have come up?

** crickets chirping **

Nothing from the weekend crowd? Okay, M-F’ers … got anything?

I’d sure like to see an answer. I’ve got a small border that I put marigolds in every summer that I’d like to encourage growing without me replanting. But by the middle of the summer, I’ve got more weeds than marigolds. And I put down weed control fabric!

The thing is, I do not take care of the lawn. That is hubby’s job and he’s terrible at it. Right now we’ve got more weeds than grass. And it’s the creepying kind. It grows right over the weed cloth and mulch. It’s not totally his fault. I won’t let him use chemical weed control as we like to eat our lawn.

IME there’s not much but manual weeding that will reliably take care of this. Plants have no understanding of or respect for boundaries, and they don’t grasp the concept of sharing. You have to leave 'em where you want 'em and pluck 'em where you don’t.

I have a cute little pocket plot by the back door that is half filled with groundcovers, coleus, violets and cranesbill geranium, and half reserved for my (mostly self-sowing) summer herb garden. And by “reserved”, I mean that I’m in there every spring battling the encroaching violets and cranesbill with tooth and claw. There is simply no way to let a plant know that it’s trespassing other than to grab it by the scruff of the neck and rip it out of the forbidden location.

I’ve used sedum as a groundcover, too, and I didn’t have a problem with it crowding out other plants, but the larkspur not coming up after the sedum covered where it was does sound problematic. I suppose you could put a little border in the ground around plants where you want the sedum to not grow.

As for having a lawn of bluebonnets and mulch, you can’t really have both - mulch discourages growth of all plants, so you kind of put it around where your desirable plants are, and just cover the bare ground with it so opportunistic plants like dandelions don’t take over (as much).

I’m seriously thinking of leaving an SASE and a note in the mailbox of the house with the loveliest bluebonnets asking them to please tell me their methods. They’re not manually re-seeding - the things are coming up everywhere - the edges of the neighbor’s lawn, the cracks in the sidewalk. The plants are clearly re-seeding themselves.

Not a bad idea, but just to be super-super nice and polite, stick a stamp on the note and send it through the mail. Technically, putting anything except regularly delivered postal mail in somebody else’s mailbox is a crime, and some people find it intrusive even when it’s as obviously harmless and well-intentioned as your message.