Landscaping Help

Hello everyone,

I have a couple landscaping questions, specifically about relocating existing plants.

Flower Bed

This is a photo of the bed that I put in last year. I made the cardinal sin of cutting in the bed around existing plantings. Prior to this, the peonis, day lillies, hostas, etc., were already there. There was not any defined landscaping around them. So, even though I did this backwards, I like the layout.

Here are my questions:

1.) I would like to add top-soil to give the bed height and texture. Do I have to dig-up everything, add 6-12 inches of top soil, and then re-plant everything? When is the best time of the year to do this?

2.) If I do not build up the beds but just want to reloacte some items, what is the best time to do this? How do I minimize risk to damaging the plants?

For example, from the picture you can see that near the sign-post there is a single clump of peonis. Further up the bed is a row of peonis. In the row, there are three clumps of peonis, then a clump of day lillies, then a final clump of peonis. I would like to move the day lillies down to the sign-post and move the single clump of peonis by the sign-post to fill in the spot where the day lillies were.

3.) In a different part of the yard, there is no landscaping and it is quite ugly. I would like to do several things here. 1st I need to build up the area and put drainage for the down-spouts under ground. Then I would like to plant several shrubs for screening and then put in smaller plantings (hostas, etc.) to flll in the bed. What is the best time to do this? Is it okay at the end of summer/early fall to plant shrubs?

Thanks for your assistance!


4.) Oh, one more question - you can see my pooch Mishka in the picture. Anything I can do to prevent those ugly brown-dead spots from where he pees in the grass? He is the King Grass Killer with his toxic tinkles!

Edited for typos… :smack:

When I was laid off for over a year I kept my lawn service; so I’m of no help whatsoever.

I just wanted to say…

“Nice Doggy!”

I don’t know about the landscaping but…

There are additives you can put in your dog’s food to prevent brown spots. I saw some at my vet’s office the other day. I’m sure you can find it at any pet store as well. I’ve never used it myself, though.

Thanks, he is a pain in the arse but I love the not-so-little bugger. :slight_smile:

Disclaimer: IANA landscaping expert, just a home gardener.

In my experience, daylilies and peonies can be dug up and plopped down in a different spot in the garden at any time during the summer, AS LONG AS you put them in their new spot immediately, and that’s as in, “Pop them out of the ground with the shovel, leave them on the shovel, walk directly to the new spot whose hole you have already dug, and drop them directly in”, and as long as you shade them for the first couple of days with a laundry basket over them. I have had good results with this.

However, if all that’s in the bed is daylilies and peonies, and if all that you want to do is increase the bed height by 6", you can add your 6" of topsoil quite easily in the fall after the foliage has died down. Then in the spring the plants will cope quite nicely with the sudden discovery that they are being required to push their sprouts through six additional inches of dirt. So if that’s all ya wanna do, you don’t need to move any plants at all.

The heat of August is a bad time to plant shrubs, IMO. For starters, the shrubs you get in pots from the nursery in August are generally stressed out from spending a hot summer in a small pot and probably not being watered enough. If they look spindly and runty to begin with, they won’t suddenly “put on growth” adequately before the first frost catches up to them.

But if you start out with robust shrubs from a quality nursery, yeah, September can actually be a good time to plant them, because it’s not so hot anymore, so they won’t be transpiring quarts of water from their leaves while their root system isn’t established enough to support it. Also, since the soil temperatures stay warm even after the air temperature has plummeted, shrub root growth can continue longer into the fall.

But ya gotta start with good shrubs. Don’t waste your money on what’s left in K-Mart’s Garden Center by this time.

If it was me, I’d focus on spending the fall getting the drainage right in that corner, because you won’t get another chance to do it right the first time. Then I’d put in my shrubs.

My experience with planting hostas in the heat of summer and fall is that only the old-fashioned lavender-flowered variety copes with it well, since they’re tough as nails to begin with. If you have the newer (read: “More expensive” :smiley: ) varieties, I’d wait to plant them until next year. Many garden experts (and nurseries) will assure you cheerfully, “Oh, yes, you can plant hostas in the fall!” but I have not had good luck with this out here on the prairie. YMMV, there in the Buckeye State.

As for Mishka peeing on the grass, found this:

Adding: Peonies are sometimes picky about how deep they’re planted, and may refuse to bloom, so if that’s the kind you have, and they don’t bloom next year, you’ll have to dig them up and reposition them a bit higher. But you can do that quite easily at the end of May, before it gets too hot to be out there with a shovel.

And they might bloom anyway. I’d go ahead and move them, see what happens.

I have yet to see the daylily that let anything short of a direct nuclear strike, or being mercilessly shaded by weeds, prevent it from blooming.

Thanks for the great posts, I appreciate it.

I’m just as likely to just ditch the daylilys entirely. I have a large planter pot full of them (over 20 years old, given to me by a elderly neighbor who moved them each time he moved.) I am debating just keeping the planter of them and tossing everything planted in my beds already. You are right, they are damn near indestructable…and they spread like crazy!

I understand about the nursery suggestion, I’d be using a good nursery here, not Lowes, Home Depot, type places for the shrubs. I would not be putting anything else into the “new” beds other than the shrubs until next spring. I just want to make sure the shrubs get established since they’ll be crucial to the lay-out and providing a screen.

So my thinking here is move the items in the existing bed the first weekend of September. Do the drainage in the other area the 1st two weekends in September. Bring in the top-soil that 2nd weekend and put it down on the 3rd weekend along with planting the shrubs. Does that get too late into the fall for the shrubs? I can move up the schedule by a couple weeks, just have to suffer the heat. :eek:


Plant when nature plants: in the fall.

Disturb the soil closer to mid to late October, or you will be inviting in weeds.

Any mistakes or less-than-perfect techniques you use (watering, fertilization, root disruption) will probably go unnoticed.

i have never seen a food/water additive that had any noticeable positive effect. What will help, though, is dilution. If you keep a larger watering can and dump some water on the site right after the dog pees, that will help.

Also, the sign post is nice. I have played around with a very similar idea for my yard. Care to share what is on the pointers?

Thank you! Actually it is a sign-post from Franklin Park Conservatory (which is located in my neighborhood) from the AmeriFlora event that was held there in 1992. It points out locations of the Conservatory and other attractions within the park.

As the Wiki link states, it was not a financially successful venture. One of many by our former mayor “Buck” Reinhart. AmeriFloria, Columbus 500, Son of Heaven, etc. However, the Franklin Park Conservatory and park is absolutely lovely and a real gem near downtown Columbus.

Forgot to add: The signs themselves are getting weathered. Still very readable but the wood is beginnign to delaminate, etc. I’m considering replacing all the wood, I just can’t decide if I should try to restore it (original verbiage, etc.) or create new items on the pointers (i.e. Broad Street, OSU Campus, etc.).

Yea… that is one more thing on my To Do list. HA!

My thinking here is that you’re not allowing for Murphy’s Law, which seems to kick in more savagely for gardeners than for other hobbyists, such as, say, knitting mavens. :smiley:

My thinking would be that you go out and get the digging done as the weather permits, and as the spirit moves you. Don’t focus on “calendar time”, like, “I’m gonna do X this weekend, and then Y next weekend”, because sure as God made little green apples and then sent bugs to eat holes in them, what will happen is that it will start raining non-stop, or you’ll have work troubles come up and get too busy to dig, or–knock on wood–you’ll put your back out with the first shovel-full and there goes your nice little schedule…

Also, I have yet to see the drainage problem that resolved itself in a single easy afternoon, that didn’t require at least six trips to Lowe’s, and possibly a trip to the library to look stuff up in the DIY section. You can’t assume that that little drainage problem will take only a single weekend, IOW. Be prepared for things to turn ugly. :smiley:

I’d prioritize as follows:

The peonies and daylilies are the least time-consuming to move, in my experience. The biggest challenge is in deciding where you want them. But once you have that figured out, then it’s just a matter of a lot of gruntwork hole-digging for the new holes, and then you just go lever out the plants and drop them in. However, you can’t figure on doing this in a single weekend, because “bad back time” figures in. If you aren’t used to digging ditches, then you’ll spend Saturday doing half the job, and then wake up Sunday morning too crippled to move, let alone move the other half of the plants. And there goes your schedule.

So what works better is to pace yourself–allow plenty of time, and just do as many plants as your back will allow. Do a couple every night, as the weather permits.


If you think, “The peonies and daylilies are easier, so I’ll get them out of the way,” then what will happen is, as soon as the peonies and daylilies are done, Something Will Come Up, and you never will get the new bed done.

And frankly, I think the drainage problem and the new shrubs are more important. I’d get them out of the way first, starting, like, today, as the weather permits–you can actually plant the shrubs any time between now and October, more or less. In the Midwest, which I will graciously include Ohio in, :smiley: there’s usually no point in waiting for “cooler fall weather”, some magical optimal weather window in which you can saunter outside in a sweater and plant bulbs under a jigsaw-puzzle-blue sky. In my experience, it tends to go straight from “OMG it’s so hot” August to “why is it still so friggin’ hot??” September to “I can’t believe we’ve had a frost and it’s still this warm” October to “nasty gray cold drizzle, how come we didn’t get a Fall?” November.

So go ahead and plant the shrubs as soon as you can, and don’t worry that “it’s too hot for them, I’ll plant them when the weather gets cooler.” Because by the time the weather gets (quote unquote) “cooler”, you’ll have Thanksgiving decorations on your front door. :smiley:

If it does take you longer than you expected to get the shrubs in the ground, you can eke out their time after it frosts by putting black plastic around their roots when you plant them, so as to retain as much soil heat as possible–and then start thinking about moving the peonies and daylilies. Because they don’t have to be moved this fall, do they? You could leave them until next spring if you still want to move them. But the shrubs ought to go in ASAP.

I love your yardwork thus far. It looks great, and your dog is very sweet-looking.

This can be a perfect time of year to plant hardy perennials. If you use very small shrubs (I have filched a few of mines from vacant lots, native species), you may want to put a pot on top of your shrub when winter comes. But next year it will do a lot of growing! Ditto with the drainage and topdressing issues – this is a fine time of year for that kind of gardening. Just keep in mind that it’s also a time when most of the seeds for next year’s weeds get deposited, so be mindful of anything that will increase weed enthusiasm.

I live in Zone 3 and am very time-conscious when gardening – the season comes and goes like lightning – your zone may be more merciful and give you more time to putz around.

I posted a thread a while back about dog urine killing my lawn. You can peruse it here; it may or may not be helpful. What I can tell you is that the story does have a happy ending – with the help of the Pee Post (but mostly with training), the dog now pees on the gravel – at least when we are vigilant enough to stand out on the deck and encourage her to run there, even in the dead of winter. The difference in the grass makes it worthwhile, though – I didn’t have to do any overseeding this year.

I should clarify this, there is not a drainage “problem” per se. (Other than normal stuff with a 100 year old house). It is more about cleaning up the area and preping it for the landscaping I want to do. I have two down spouts that come from a small roof over my kitchen on each corner of a single wall. Currently, the run into that black corrigated plastic tubing and stretch out about 10 feet into the yard, away from the foundation.

ASCII FUN TIME! (Okay, I’m not ASCII artist and I cannot get crap to line up. Just squint at it and things will look clearer)

Exterior Wall

D = Downspout

Each downspout has the above metioned flexible plastic pipe stuff to take the water away from the base of the external wall.

I want to do the following:

Exterior Wall
ggggg | ggggggggggggggggggggggg | ggg
ggggg | ggggggggggggggggggggggg | ggg
ggggg | ggggggggggggggggggggggg | ggg
ggggg ---------------------------------------- ggg
ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg | ggg
bbbbbbbbbSSbbbbbbSSbbbbbbbSSbbbbb | bbb
bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb | bbb

Single lines = underground drain pipes, the right side would extend out to either the end of my property or into a flower bed at a minimum of 12 feet away from the foundation/external wall.

g = gravel area

b = bed

SS = Screening shrubs

Nothing to tricky, just grunt work.

Once that is done, I’d want to level out the ground near the external wall since it humps in the middle and grades to both sides. Then I’d put in a gravel access path along the exterior wall (for utility access) and a bed in front of that (thus shrubs, to screen the view of the utility access area.

Okay, maybe that is a lot of grunt work! :eek:

Lot more than I think you realize. :smiley: Better you than me…

What pops out at me, looking at your diagram, is that you’re gonna want to leave access to get back behind the bed and pull weeds out of the gravel without having to actually stand in the flowerbed. So that means your shrubs need to be small to medium-sized when full-grown. If you put in something like yew or juniper or other huge scratchy evergreens, someday you’ll have tree-of-heaven or mulberries growing over the top that you’ll find yourself extremely reluctant to crawl back there in the spiderwebby evergreens and deal with. And by the time you get around to it, the mulberries in particular will need a pruning saw (they’re so evil, I hate them with the passion of a thousand burning suns), and I have actually been in the position of crawling around in huge, spiderwebby, scratchy evergreens with a pruning saw. 'Taint pretty. :smiley:

This area is already shaded by a large maple. I actually have a very large mature mulberry tree on the opposite corner of my property. Major pain in the arse.

That was bad ASCII and not really in a decent scale. The utility access part will be at least 5 feet wide. I plan to do a layer of sand, then landscape fabric, and then the gravel (with some pavers probably).

You’ll still get weeds in the gravel.
She said dourly.

My thoughts exactly, however was thinking about more exotic locales. :smiley:

Pittsburgh? Monroeville? Squirrel Hill? :wink: Kidding - Sorry, I saw western PA and assumed Pittsburgh area.