I have several very neglected flower beds(raised beds with timbers around them. I am thinking that I will cut down the big stuff (trees etc) cut everything as close to the ground as possible, spray with herbicide, cover with black plastic or weed screen, then maybe cover with wood chips? While I would like to at some point try planting stuff, I would be good for awhile just having them not growing anything new until I get everything more under control. Any advise or suggestions would be appreciated.
How big are these beds? And how big are the trees? First, you’ll be better off trying to uproot the trees as much as you can, rather than cutting them close to the ground level - much much better off. In fact, uproot as much as you can. Secondly, I wouldn’t go to the trouble of plastic or a weed screen. Just put down a thick layer of newspaper and a layer of cardboard (not the glossy cardboard though), and put wood chips or mulch down on top of that. Weeds won’t be able to grow through that, and it will decompose really nicely over the next few years. If you need to plant, you can cut out a hole. Don’t bother with herbicide - cardboard will cover it.
the stuff in the beds are trees that have grown to about 2 to 4 inches in diameter, some sort of hedge stuff, polk (did you know that polk will grow to the size of a small tree?) other weeds and grass. I don’t have the ability to dig the trees out once they are cut nor time to dig all of the grass out. My primary goal is to make everything look a little better and maybe later to try planting something. Right now there is nothing I want to save. I will have to hire someone to help me with the heavy stuff as it is.
I will try the newpaper cardboard. I want decompose the trees and hedge stuff as quickly as possible, I read that putting holes in the stumps and then pouring sugar water and then covering with plastic will cause them to decompose more quickly ( a year or two vs a decade or two). I live in the Southen US so the black plastic will heat and bake the soil pretty quickly. Maytbe put some plastic down on top and weight with rocks for a month or two and then remove that before I put the wood chips down.
My plan is to do a little at a time as work and health permit.
There are 5 beds, one is free standing about 3’x3’, has a 3 in diamter tree and a bunch of hedge abd grass, there used to be a beautiful butterfly weed that grew there but I havn’t seen it for awhile.
there are 2 2 ft by 5 ft beds that are against buildings one on the west side of my house one on the south side of an out building. the one against the house has 2 4" trees, some viney stuff and grass. One tree was cut down yesterday as it was pushing on my air conditioner. The other will go soon. the other bed is all bermuda grass.
the last 2 beds are on either side of a concrete pad that maybe a small glider or an arbor would fit. all sorts of garbage including hedge, polk and maybe some smaller trees.
I was given the book Square Foot Gardening and at some point would like to try that but seriously work and trying to maintain the yard just about did me in. that is how I got into this mess in the first place. It is hard to mow and edge 2 to 3 times a week and work 50 or 60 hours as well. I finally got someone to do the mowing part reliably so maybe I can tackle the 10 years of neglected gardens. this doesn’t even start on the front yard which has azalea bushes and a japanese maple tree I do want to keep but are over run with honeysuckle and some other nasty thorny vine.
There is actually a product that will chemically accelerate the decomposition if you put it in a drilled out hole in the stump. You can buy it at pretty much any hardware store. That could really help out.