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Fri Apr 27, 2012, 08:58 PM

OK, I'm redoing the back of my house.

It has gotten really ugly back there in the past couple of years. It is a northern exposure, but the house, which is a ranch, is the only real shade source. I have a couple of trees about 30-40 feet away that give a bit of very early morning shade as the sun moves around.

In fact, it has been ugly for the past 2 plus decades. It's not the best soil, dark but not fertile, kind of sandy, and often water-stressed in the summer except for one small area that gets extra from the downspout.

I haven't found too many things that have done well back there. I've tried a lot of things over the years -- clematis, perennial hibiscus, hosta, ferns. Most of the things I've tried haven't ever really thrived. Probably too shady for the clematis and hibiscus.

There are a few things that are doing well back there -- Hydrangeas 'Limelight' and some pink lacecap of unknown/forgotten variety; a couple of rhododendrons that struggled for a few years but are finally doing better and growing. And, a lot of rather ugly dwarf running bamboo Pleioblastus fortuneii that has taken over about half of the bed, and crowded out a few thing that used to do well there, a clump of Japanese anemone, a Helleborus, and it completely killed off a once-thriving clump of Chinese ground orchids. Oh, and I do have a few perennials that still thrive, an old-fashioned bleeding heart, a clump of wild blue flag iris, and a yellow meadow rue.

So, I started tonight -- cut back the overgrown hydranges, dug out a bit of the bamboo then found out how awful it is to dig and resorted to cutting off at ground level.

Tomorrow, if it doesn't SNOW too much (yes, the Detroit area is going to get a dusting of snow tomorrow per the NWS), I hope to get a lot of this done.

My plan is to use thick landscape carpet over the worst of it, and over the entire bamboo patch save a couple of clumps here and there, mulch the entire thing down, use mainly shrubs for interest with a few perennials where I can, and put in some planters full of annuals for color.

I want it to be pretty back there, not ugly as it has been for a long time now. Wish me luck.

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Reply OK, I'm redoing the back of my house. (Original post)
Denninmi Apr 2012 OP
tru Apr 2012 #1
Denninmi Apr 2012 #3
Curmudgeoness Apr 2012 #2
tru Apr 2012 #4

Response to Denninmi (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 08:18 AM

1. It sounds like you've


been planting a lot of shade-lovers in a sunny area? If only the house and distant trees provide shade?

The first thing I'd do is improve the heck out of the soil.

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Response to tru (Reply #1)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 01:58 PM

3. Yup, I did!

Last night, I guess I was too tired to fight the bamboo rhizomes. I went at them this morning with a fresh attitude and a different shovel, and got most of them out. Then I ran up to the hardware and got 10 bags of composted manure and 2 bales of peat and amended the soil with that before I planted.

If only it weren't so blasted COLD here today. No snow, but about 40 degrees, gray, with a steady NE wind. Not a very nice late April day.

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Response to Denninmi (Original post)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 12:17 PM

2. LOL, this sounds just like me, except for the ambition part.

I have been fighting with "ugly" for a long time now---too many plants that take over all the other plants, losing too many treasured plants, and wanting to get it all cleaned up. I also have too many plants that are next to impossible to destroy or dig up---and just cutting them off doesn't even faze them.

Good luck with your project and I hope it goes well. Maybe I will get out there and do the same thing! It is long overdue.

And a word to the wise---if someone is offering you free plants when they are thinning out their gardens, don't take them!!! That is how I got into the mess that I am in.

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Response to Curmudgeoness (Reply #2)

Sat Apr 28, 2012, 03:57 PM

4. There's always a backhoe


I was chipping away at an area and then said I'm too old for this and hired someone to excavate and remove the horrendous gravel, etc. and bring in good soil. I am really enjoying planting there now.

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