Big war, big weapons.. a very honest post about goutweed control


Way back when I moved here last year, I overlooked some things I would normally deem as a potential realty dealbreaker. We had goutweed! Everything else was an ideal thing that I let it go.

But I didn’t let it go, really. I didn’t want it to spread anymore. I didn’t want it at all! But anyone who has ever seen this “beautiful, fool proof ground cover” or had the PLEASURE of trying to eradicate it, will agree with me: It’s not an easy feat. And many just give up. Don’t give up.

The majority of this bed as freshly emerged goutweed. I’m told it’s great for gout, or goats like it, and people eat it. But I’m not gonna eat it. It’s going to eat dirt.

I’m here to discuss goutweed this week and how I’ve managed to control it so far.

But first, I need to sit you down and have the talk. Yes, you know the talk, we all dread it. It’s the talk regarding Round-Up. No, I don’t mean my yearly round-up post. I mean, the toxic, disgusting glysophate spray people love to ask for, love to hate. I don’t like to use non-organic methods of clearing things out. I don’t like to use synthetic fertilizers in my gardens because I don’t like the steroid-type dependency it creates. I also don’t like using spray on weeds either. But you need to look at your situation and determine if this is one where such a drastic action is needed.
Round up is not advised to be used in lawns or near vegetable gardens, do not use near water sources or wildlife. I’ve read its warnings of being highly carcinogenic. I’ve also spoken with vendors who tout that it has a ground residual effect for two weeks.  It should not be applied with children or pets around. You should wear protective gloves, goggles, face respirator. It’s nasty. It also smells like a sickly pina colada.

The times in which I DO believe it is acceptable as a LAST RESORT are as follows: A noxious weed that cannot be removed manually, either due to an aggressive spreading habit or due to irritating toxins in the plant that can cause major discomfort. IE: Poison Oak/Sumac/Ivy, Japanese Knotweed, and GOUTWEED. If anyone has ever tried to remove goutweed, the initial… how shall we put it, carpet, is so densely rooted into the soil that it requires a good strong tool to lift it. But to snap any roots is to propagate the plant further. It loves it. It thrives on it. I remember hearing reassuring comments from friends and gardeners. Once you get into it, it’s not so bad. But there I stood, I declared, “oh the humanity!” who on earth ever thought it was a good thing to plant?

So I listened to so many points of advice. Working in a garden center, I hear a LOT of gardener tales. What people do, what they try.

Smother it. Go ahead. There will be a good chance it will pop up at the edge of the cover. Try carpet if you can bear its ugliness. I’ve heard this is the best weapon.

Dig it out. Yeah okay. Get the biggest excavator you can get and dig a meteor-sized hole around the whole patch. You may win. (I considered this, and I may still)

You can try a number of vinegar/dawn/water potions. I’ve heard these work, but then, the next gardener in line whispers, “no It doesn’t, she just doesn’t know it yet.”

I saw a gardener come in this summer looking for trays. She was removing all her perennials, cleaning their roots carefully of any bits of goutweed. They would then dig the entire site.  Yeah, maybe. That is incredibly meticulous for a gardener whose veggie garden is tapping its toes, waiting to be harvested, with a greenhouse to tend, and a family to care for. I had no emotional attachment to anything in this bed. So I did not care.

The thing I tried though, was Round-Up. I don’t like to use this word, and I don’t like to promote it. But when you compare the state it came up in this spring versus the state of the bed after July, you will see that it’s quite effective. The reason I chose it was due to its systemic approach. Those roots lie in wait and spring up when you aren’t looking. I had to get serious.

After a week of festering with Roundup, the goutweed shows some stress, but still thumbing its nose.

But stop. The journey doesn’t end here. To this day, in September, there is still nothing new planted. After it lay there, like salted earth, all summer long, I decided to poke around.

And look what I found. You WISH this was a spaghetti garden. Nope, these are all still quite plump and fleshy roots from goutweed. I also found a few pieces sprouting up under the Privet shrub. It’s still alive.


I continue to monitor and target any survivors.

Next year, there will be more popping up after a long and restful winter. I am counting on it. And I will be there, waiting. Spraying. Root-digging. I don’t expect to plant here for a few years.

So, now you know the truth, and why good people would go and do bad things. Sometimes, emergencies happen. Desperate people do desperate things.

I am not proud that I resorted to this product, but I also know it is a very challenging task, to destroy Goutweed. But I can tell you something else about this “magical potion” everyone thinks they desire. It isn’t fast acting! My advantage is likely to our very dry summer. And it isn’t a 100% sure thing the first time around. It’s a pain in the ass in terms of pet and child logistics, and papers even suggest telling your neighbors you intend to use the product. You will probably have to re-spray the keeners sprouting up. The war is not easily won.

After the first rain in the middle of summer, the only things that were reborn were clovers and maybe the odd sprig of goutweed and other miscellaneous weeds. Nice!

In other news this week, I’ve been working on the rock garden to get it back in a state of tidiness.
You will likely see that this is going to become my primary focus next year as it is just about finished anyway. I’ve been giving my home business a lot of consideration and the main artery to this business for a customer is this walkway. I want it to look interesting, clean and polished. The upper parts are done. I’ve just got to wait for the perennials to fill in. The Sedums have done very well this summer, thanks to all that hot and dry weather. Further down, it gets a little bit more confused, but the edit to take place here is the bottom. The bottom is mostly daylilies, but I think I will probably fill most of this area (along the trellising) with Perovskia (Russian sage) and the bottom I am still considering. The Artemisia seemed very mighty, but it falls over and this isn’t really ideal for passerby.


As a final note this week, I confess, I’ve been a little late in my updates. Frankly, there is less to discuss as the season winds down, so I’ll be posting once every 2 weeks (with the exception of some exciting posts I can’t wait to share) from here until probably march. I’ll try my best to keep things interesting, maybe bringing some topics to the indoors, and product recommendations.

Have a fabulous week, and dance in that cold, delicious rain!


Forcing oneself to garden when stuff’s tough, when you’re tired, when summer’s over…

Well, there isn’t a lot on the ‘ol agenda from here on out. There’s a lot of me reminding myself, gosh it’s chilly in the mornings, maybe I should bring in my tropicals. So there will be some focus on the lows and bringing more things in here and there. I also see some very sad planters that need to be emptied out and either replaced with something more seasonal, or stored away. Those heliotropes are very sorry at this point. My herbs need to get used up or put into butter to freeze for fall/winter months. Everyone loves a good herb butter!

20160918_135020But my focus this week is the bed around the deck in the back yard. Look at it. Ugh. It’s just a jungle of sickly green. I took that picture on Tuesday. I then proceeded to walk the length of it to really take notes of the things I want to do to it. So the editing and extractions continue! The things that bothered me the most was that in all of that mess, I hated the motherwort.. it’s a self seeder. And the Euphorbia just looked like a collapsed mess. I already have a Euphorbia in another spot so this one took off. You can’t see them too well on the account of MESS. So they may we well go anyway.

The other thing I had to force myself to do (and I wish I had made this decision earlier in the year) was to plan out my gardening into week-long area projects. I ran around like crazy all summer from one spot to another every day.  When you’re dealing with such a large piece of property, and want to garden it as ambitiously as I do, I feel that a little order is needed so I don’t feel too overwhelmed with stuff to do. Next year, I’m going to break it down every week by zones, rather than doing everything I can and moving to the next when I finish. If I do that, I’ll never get out of an area. So if I limit each garden to one week, and then revisit it later down the road on another week, it feels like I have less to worry about. And like I said earlier, this week was the deck garden. Next week I’ll be tackling the rock garden again and doing a bunch of work in the greenhouse.

14339256_10154596978329306_1311749795_o.jpgI suppose now you want to see the end result of my week of the deck garden, eh? Well, there it is. There is no color here! But it’s a little cleaner after a good deadheading and extraction of the two mentioned perennials. And look! I have a late-blooming Buddleia, just by the window.


20160918_115045.jpg Ah, beautiful. This one is ‘Low & Behold Blue Chip.’ A smaller selection, ideal for a tight space.

So for now, I’m hosting a lot of daylilies here. But you know what I realize, we realize it together. Fall color is required here to continue a bit of interest. So once we remove that lilac. Yes, that naughty little lilac there, I will plant a nice Rose of Sharon that needs a home. I’ve been overwintering it for a while now, but it will do much better here. I might also consider other fall blooming perennials. I still have a few left to put in the ground. And those duchess blue ice asters are still looking gorgeous, albeit a little flopsy.

And that concludes my week. I definitely didn’t get to do as much as I hoped I would, but I’ve been rather tired and bummed out. I have a hack for that. You know how I feel about gardening as great therapy. Sometimes the medicine is hard to take. The easiest way to get a little ambition to work is to go outside. The hardest part is opening the door. Bring some snips with you. Don’t commit to anything but snipping little dead heads off or brown tips. You’ll want to do more, likely. I promise.

Now to relax with a little tea and let the rain showers do a little work for me. I’m going to enjoy the gazebo a little longer. It’s going to come down very soon!

Been walking through the rhodo forest

So you might remember my late winter post of the forest that needs a little bit of interest. Well since then, I’ve done a LOT of work. It has probably been focus #3 of the summer, after the rock garden and veggie garden. Since the last post and walk through, I’ve planted a lot of rhododendrons and azaleas and a few perennials too. I planted a few other shrubs. I’ve also lost a few things in here over the summer just because it was too tinder dry, as you know. You can only tote so many watering cans to the forest, and plant so many things to water in the heat of the summer. Especially when you have a full time job that is quite tiresome when you get home and just want to relax.

20160909_121349.jpgThe last thing I did last week in the forest was dig out some of the garbagey looking stuff at the entrance. I thought it was a positive way to end something: to draw people in to the beginning, visually. I peeled away all that old yucky grass that we never mowed anyway and made room for a Clethra alnifolia, an astilbe, a wood poppy (just as a filler) and a heather. The heather was an established shrub given to me by such a generous gardener who said it was just 2″ taller than its tag suggests, but it’s lovely enough for me. I’ve got space to fill!


20160909_114117.jpgThere was also some weeding to be done over the summer. Squirrels like to plant their little walnuts here because the soil is spongy and easy to dig. You would likely spot walnuts everywhere sprouting up. If they’re young, they’re easy to pluck out.  There are also suckers everywhere that are impossible to remove except by hacking them down.

Pictured, you can see glimpses (from the beginning of the path) of Pieris japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ and Rhododendron catawbiense ‘Alba’ …but not really. I will promise a better walk in late spring. 

So as you can see, there is almost LESS beauty here at the moment compared to the last time we walked through together. It’s all due to the dryness, and the season is probably less interesting at the moment than it is in the spring.  I apologize for poor timing, this is also a lesson that the forest needs winter interest.

It also needs a structural feature. Two, actually. I want a large pagoda, and I want a concrete or stone/natural bench (not this broken 2×4 thing between two stumps). But If I discard the placeholders, I’ll forget the intent for these spots. So there, they stay.


20160909_114208.jpgNext spring, I will dig up some of the millions of sunflowers from the wild forest so they can colonize a bit in the back parts of the forest facing the field. Why would I do that? Because at dusk, when the sun has begun to set, your eyes will always gravitate to the vertical lines of the trees and shadows of the forest and the golden color that emanates from the west. Why wouldn’t I amplify the golden sunsets with some yellows? It will also give a bit of a softer visual break between the forest and the field.

In the heat of the summer and my inability to keep up (and this is a classic gardener’s story, it happens), I have lost 1 rhododendron (Impeditum) and one is stressing quite significantly (Hellikki). I never rip anything out until the following spring, because you never know what might come up.

It’s funny, to you, and to anyone who walks through, and maybe even to myself initially, it was just a nondescript mass planting of white pines. It took some time, some meandering and contemplation to find the path through it. You can see the rows, when standing at the right angle. They are all planted in rows. You begin to become familiar with each pine. Some are very sorry. Some are dead. Some are so much more beautiful, or fuller, than their brothers and sisters. And you come in, lay some sort of a flow, and it becomes something new.

So that is it. That is what my story is this week. You never need to resign to what’s there, you can cultivate your wild. So go out there, walk a wildness in your garden, and see if there’s another path through it, another corner that needs to be emphasized. Maybe it needs editing, maybe it needs additions.

That’s about all for this week.

I’ve got to cope with the immense work load of this place. I’m restructuring my task work load a bit. It does sound a bit over structured and anal but I thrive on such things. I’ll get into that later. I think this week I’m going to tackle the deck’s garden in the back yard. It’s been begging for some love.

Minor updates, thinking of haunting the forest

Just PACKED with stuff! Now the lights need to come on when I spend any time in the greenhouse.

So a new month has come upon us and it’s time to look at the things I need to get done for the first part of the month. Ah, temperatures are so fair now. Bugs are less annoying. And apple pickin’ time is soon, as well as canning season. I’ve already made some hot pepper jelly, and hopefully I will be able to make some salsa. Despite all of the peppers and tomatoes I planted, I’m a little disappointed in the yield quantity. Maybe for several reasons. Not enough water, too many weeds, maybe not enough compost in the soil. I’ll be addressing all of these things this fall. Once everything is harvested I’ll throw down the compost and work it in so it will be ready for spring. Of course, I also said I had planned on building a few raised beds every year, so I’ll have to be careful to not waste my compost where the beds are going.

Hawkweed, thyme, dandelions, oh  my! But it’s still green! And bees are quite pleased.

If I had time to mind the lawn this year, I’d be liming it, especially since the pines nearby surely make it incredibly acidic. I’d also look at overseeding, but it’s been too dry a year, and we have some serious weeding to do. I’m trying my best to contain the fury that boils inside of me at the lack of rain. It can’t be helped, but between a 40 hour job and life needing to go on as need, there is never enough time to water everything. So yeah, that grass seed can wait another year for me. There’s just not enough time to water. Besides! why would I want to get rid of my incredibly diverse lawn that is mostly a non grass lawn?





So in the last week or so, I’ve sown some more seeds for fall harvests. I’ve planted swiss chard, radishes, and carrots and peas, both in the ground, and for fun, in pots. I was going to pull the pattypan squash plant I was growing in the greenhouse, but then discovered my last few weeks of hand pollinating them was successful finally! For those who wonder, I had the greenhouse doors closed to prevent my little gardening squirrel from planting things in my greenhouse, as he was destroying work I was planning to sell.  I will also be planting some spinach seeds both inside and outside the greenhouse.

I’ll also be carefully watching the nighttime lows. I have a few tender tropicals outside, particularly my beautiful, giant hibiscus. It will be coming in once those lows consistently drop below 10. When I bring in my tropicals, I always spray them with either insecticidal soap or horticultural oil and allow it to dry before bringing them in. Hibiscus is a notorious aphid and whitefly magnet, but I’ve never had these problems because of my faithful spraydown.

Damn! Just missed the orchids in bloom. They are everywhere in the forest.

There’s something else I’ve been looking at and thinking about now that September is here. It’s a bit early, but never too early to consider the Halloween season’s plans. I want to haunt up my forest! It does have a set path, and some shrubs have already been planted. But it sure is creepy in there at night. Wouldn’t it be delightful if it was a creepy haunted walk through around Halloween? Yes. Yes it would be. Don’t argue with me. I already have my costume half started from last year, some finishing touches this year should make it a perfect tour guide through.  I might even have a big  bowl of candy at the exit.

So I may do another edition of “Dawn does Pinterest!” this fall involving halloween crafts and some progress of haunting up the forest. I may also have to offer you all a quick tour through the forest before it goes to sleep for the season.

What are you doing here anyway? It’s labor day! Time to celebrate and relax. Summer is kind of over now, isn’t it? That’s why my post is short this week. I’ve got some …well, I’ve got one day to spend with my families! Can’t let it go to waste.


Sedum ‘Jaws’ soon there will be splendour and interest again in the garden.