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I have bought a house that has been left unoccupied for a long time. The garden was once lovely but sadly left to over grow. It's a cottage style garden with a mixture of shrubs and herbaceous perennials. I started by cutting back hard last year and to my surprise it's come back great but I have a big problam with rye grass in the borders. Itr's perticully difficult to remove from an area with geraium wargrave and mixed iris. Is there anything I can do. I really do not want to dig the border up and start again.
Can you give us an idea of the size of the problem? Are we talking about square feet or square yards?
Around two square metres
Oh, piece of cake! The grass roots go everywhere, as I'm sure you know. And every little bit that you leave in the ground will start off again as a new problem. In the autumn, I would dig up one prized plant at a time and split it into manageable pieces then go through each piece with a fine-tooth comb pulling out all the bits of grass root you can find. Then, with the bed relatively clear, go through the soil and do the same. You don't have to do it all in a day, the grass won't be growing then. You can do one plant at a time and have a rest in between.
As the garden has been neglected, you will be doing the plants a favour by lifting and splitting them anyway as they must be quite large and getting on a bit and in need of rejuvenation.
I'm not in favour of weedkillers myself, but I would say that they would be very difficult to apply inthis case anyway as you can't spray just the grass without hitting the plants you want to save.
A long job but worth the effort. Good luck!
both the geranium and the iris have grown and merge in together over the years. In other parts of the garden I have managed to dig up the roots but the iris tubers in this area make it difficult to do.
Thanks for your reply water butts posted previous before reading yours.
I was hoping I could avoid this. But I know you are right!
I have just cut the geranium back to ground level as they had finished flowering/looked tired from dry weather. I don't know weather they will have second flush of flowers? So was thinking of doing it now, but I never give it a thought to leave it till the autumn.
I will lose all the geranium though as it would be impossile to do. Don't fancy the fine tooth comb option
You needn't lose the geranium. Dig up a clump and prise off a bit from round the edges. It will probably have a shoot part and a root part. You can push these bits into pots of compost to keep them alive while you are busy on your hands and knees giving the grass roots the shove. If you take several (a lot?) you can then replant them in a loose clump in your newly weeded bed and they will soon grow together into a mass.
You won't get any more flowers this year, though if you had kept the seed heds you couldhave grown some plants from those.
I'm afraid there is no option but the fine-tooth comb. Just bite the bullet and then relax in a glow of virtuous achievement.
Any advice on replanting the iris. I have never used them before. should I store the tubers over winter or replant into weed free bed.
The iris should be hardy. Just clean them up, sort out the bed and plonk them back in again. Then put the kettle on.
KNNC - I am told by a lady who I just bought lots of iris from that they should be dug up and divided every few years anyway - if yours have been in the ground for ages they will be delighted as waterbutts says, and you will have lots of new little rhizomes to plant elsewhere.