Making my wild yard look nicer with less maintenance

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Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
307
Southern New England
Hey all, as I've previously mentioned I moved into a house with a nice but neglected 5 acre property about 2 acres of which are yard. the front yard is VERY rocky (mowing is a serious pain in the arse) and the rocks are big rocks that are just poking above the surface, also the front yard is has 4 very large "beds" with boulder/rock retaining walls/ boarders that are kind of built into the hill side.

The beds are an absolute nightmare they are over grown with aggressive weeds that will go 2-3 feet tall if I don't take a brush cutter to them regularly. The beds are also rocky and the main one is on a steep part of the hill so planting grass may not be an option.

So what can I do? I like a natural look but I want it to be more presentable and I can't have this be hours of hand work every summer to keep tame.

These problem areas are not really accessible with my machines due to the rocks and how steep they are other wise I'd be brush hogging everything.

One thought is to reforest the front yard which would have the benefit of giving us lots of privacy, I was thinking about planting pine trees that would blanket the ground with needles and keep the vegetation down, however if there are any other tricks to tame this property I'm interested in hearing what others do. I don't really want to wait 20 years to have full grown trees!

Also one final note, I really don't want to blast everything with Roundup, I'm not interested in exposing my self and family to the stuff.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,783
Northern Maine
I’ve used roundup and some other stuff that makes it look like bath water for a long time.

I followed the instructions and used my brain when using it.

I’m mostly OK depending on who you ask.
 

Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
307
Southern New England
I’ve used roundup and some other stuff that makes it look like bath water for a long time.

I followed the instructions and used my brain when using it.

I’m mostly OK depending on who you ask.
I know it can be used properly and safely. And I’m sure the prior owner used all sorts of weed killer. I’d rather not have to worry about spraying the large area I have every year, and I don’t like going out of my way to use the stuff.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,597
Northern NH
My new lot has mostly glacial cobbles with soil in the gaps. I am seriously considering putting down geotextile and just screening the soil from the rocks and dumping them in place of the lawn. The local nearby mountains have extensive areas of similar rock fields above treeline so it should fit right in. The key thing is to keep anything from growing in but my guess is the geotextile and a bit of depth of rock should help.
 

Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
307
Southern New England
Seems like we have a similar situation, I was thinking about going with rocks over fabric some some areas as well. I would just be weary of leaves covering the rocks and breaking down into soil.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,922
Long Island NY
Why not buy seed mixes for native plants that e.g. flower and attract (honey)bees? Have a wild meadow. One time weed whacking one the flower season is over. Wild, rural, but pretty meadow during part of the year?
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,922
Long Island NY
Not a bad idea, we have a bee hive that would love it.

any idea on how to find seed mixes like this?

Is there a state beekeepers association? (That's where I would have gone back in Europe... Don't know here. I suspect @begreen may have ideas...?)
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
90,531
South Puget Sound, WA
If you are on facebook, or Nextdoor Neighbor, check to see if there is a good local beekeeper group. They can help you connect.
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,783
Northern Maine
Geo fabrics will hold debris and the crap will just grow in that.

Save your money and time.
 
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DuaeGuttae

Minister of Fire
Oct 26, 2016
999
Texas
Not a bad idea, we have a bee hive that would love it.

any idea on how to find seed mixes like this?

Try Wildseed Farms and look at their regional wildflower mixes. They grow wildflowers to produce seeds that they sell to state highway departments. We took our kids there for a visit a couple of years ago. It was a great trip..


The prior owners of our house put down weed barrier fabric all around the house. Most of the backyard is covered with river rocks, and it is a pain to deal with. We have a lot of trees back there, and enough stuff has decayed over the years that weeds have no trouble growing on the surface. It necessitates a lot trimming and pulling and the of use of a powerful leaf blower. We don’t have time to do it as often as we should, and I would not recommend it as any sort of less maintenance idea for the long run. I think the wildflowers that @stoveliker recommended above are definitely a better idea. Maybe consider a walk-behind string trimmer for maintenance when necessary.
 

semipro

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2009
4,077
SW Virginia
One thought is to reforest the front yard which would have the benefit of giving us lots of privacy, I was thinking about planting pine trees that would blanket the ground with needles and keep the vegetation down, however if there are any other tricks to tame this property I'm interested in hearing what others do. I don't really want to wait 20 years to have full grown trees!
You're on the right track here.
Regardless of your other beautification activities, plant a bunch of deciduous trees, preferably a mix of fast-growing and slower-growing ones ASAP. You can also mix in some conifers if you want. Have a look at what does well in natural areas nearby.
After 20 years of comparison of our property (which is former pasture) to the nearby national forest areas, I've finally figured out that the shading and leaf fall from deciduous trees results in a nice-looking forest floor, mostly clear of undesirable undergrowth.
If left alone, disturbed land will change over time due to Natural Succession. I've watched this happen for 20 years on our 5 acres. What I wish I'd done was expedite the process to the degree possible with my intervention of selective harvesting and planting. I am doing that now but could have started long ago.

Edit: one thing you want to avoid with glyphosate-type herbicides (e.g. Roundup) is to keep them out of waterways and groundwater. They will degrade relatively quickly to a less harmless form when exposed to sunlight but can contaminate water systems if directly introduced.
 
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stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,922
Long Island NY
You're on the right track here.
Regardless of your other beautification activities, plant a bunch of deciduous trees, preferably a mix of fast-growing and slower-growing ones ASAP. You can also mix in some conifers if you want. Have a look at what does well in natural areas nearby.
After 20 years of comparison of our property (which is former pasture) to the nearby national forest areas, I've finally figured out that the shading and leaf fall from deciduous trees results in a nice-looking forest floor, mostly clear of undesirable undergrowth.
If left alone, disturbed land will change over time due to Natural Succession. I've watched this happen for 20 years on our 5 acres. What I wish I'd done was expedite the process to the degree possible with my intervention of selective harvesting and planting. I am doing that now but could have started long ago.

Edit: one thing you want to avoid with glyphosate-type herbicides (e.g. Roundup) is to keep them out of waterways and groundwater. They will degrade relatively quickly to a less harmless form when exposed to sunlight but can contaminate water systems if directly introduced.

I think this good advice can be combined with a wildflower meadow approach. Get some privacy with trees, but keep a landscape with open areas. Wildlife will abound. (Fence in your garden...)
 
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EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
1,464
SE North Carolina
What I wish I'd done was expedite the process to the degree possible with my intervention of selective harvesting and planting. I am doing that now but could have started long ago.
I think the concept of continuing management probably yields the fastest result. But the plant it and forget idea is enticing. Contact your local extension office. They are a great resource. See if they have any recommendations.

Evan
 

Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,783
Northern Maine
Mostly okay, at this moment. Problems from this crap can show up decades later.
Been here 31 years. Scheduled retirement is 23.
How many decades should I be worried about?
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,679
WI, Leroy
Check your PH levels sometimes changing that will help eliminate some weeds.
 
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MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
496
Idaho
A few years back, I had a hyrdo seeding company squirt my lawn. While talking with them I found out that they also hydro seeded wild flowers. I had that done behind my shop, It worked out well. Each year it came up in wild flowers, virtually no weeds, and I did not have to mess with it.
 
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Bad LP

Minister of Fire
Nov 28, 2014
1,783
Northern Maine
Round up debate aside... I'd rather not have to deal with it unless its a one time situation like killing a sprouting tree stump.

For yearly upkeep no thanks.
Rock salt will do it. I stored some 20% mix only near a 100 foot tall 40” White Pine for one season.
Tree freaked right out. Root compaction from equipment wouldn’t do it. Paving and gravel areas wouldn’t bother it one bit.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
1,922
Long Island NY
btw, possibly superfluous, but if you go with wildflowers, make sure to weed-whack after they have spread their seeds.

Let us know what you do, and show some pics :)
 
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