5 rules to reduce maintenance

Sounds like they at least make one for size of property. My mower in in the shop now the the grass is growing, and growing, and growing.
I like the name your daughter gave your mower. :smiley:

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Again, thank you all. This has been very useful. Even just to think about how I can reduce my maintenance time in the future.

In my situation mowing IS the fastest way to reduce insane weeds/invasive plants/tick habitat. I just never thought about it - but now I’m so glad I did.

Wood chip mulch also makes sense for me because it’s cheap and easy for me (and I can’t mow right up to the trunk of a tree). It also makes sense for me to look into leaf mulch.

Especially right now, I am wishing for more wood chips. I’ve had only .44’’ of rain in the last month. I am having to irrigate all my young plants. I’m about to put down drip irrigation for my older fruit trees, since they are a bit troubled and I think having enough water will help them stave off (more) disease and recover from the pruning many have had. If I didn’t cover the drip tubing with woodchips I don’t know what I’d do about the excessive weeds/grass.

Also, the conversation about winter is cracking me up!!! I am one of those who likes the heat. Give me a hot humid summer to work outside in (my friends think I’m crazy)! But I also love winter sports so I’ve learned to dress and play in the cold; the trick is that I’m miserable if I don’t get to come home and have a hot shower and crank up my indoor heat and put on a fire and sleep under my heated blanket. =)

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I spent several hours the other day weed whacking and clearing brush. It’s among my most despised tasks and it spurs me to figure out some solutions.

Here, I’m weed-whacking along an overgrown french drain and came across a currant bush which was swallowed up.

You can see the partially freed current bushes on the far right of the pic, along the bottom of of the rocks.

The rock area was probably the most work. Not only is it hard to get at, I tend to ignore it (as it’s hard to get at…), so everything gets very overgrown. In order to clear it, I need to pick my way along the rocks, trying to not fall, but also blocked by branches from the trees. I remember when I planted them, I figured that I could let the low branches grow out over the cliff, where they would get plenty of light and airflow. Now, I’m going along and cutting anything I can’t safely duck/reach under (partially done in the above pic).

It was hard enough using the WW that I ended up sitting down on the rocks and pulling weeds by hand. Tough to do while standing, as you don’t want a week to unexpectedly give way and leave you toppling over the cliff.

The weeds were tall enough that they were using the lower branches on the trees as a trellis.

While going around the yard, I realized that I already did that in a small patch of the hill. Looks like the weeds grew right up through a 4-5" thick layer of leaves. Maybe I need cardboard underneath the leaves next time.

One hope I have for a longer-term solution comes from @tonyOmahaz5. He’s used cement board as a mulch and says it is very long lasting.

I started using it a couple years ago and it is a lot better than cardboard, but I’m not sure it will endure too long. Some of it still looks decent and it can be mowed around.

But, if you look closely, some of it has started to break down.

Note that these pieces are fairly small, as they were leftovers from renovations. I have a few other larger sheets that I’ve also used.

My preliminary thought is to put cement board in the hardest to reach places. Cement board would be tough for any spots where the ground isn’t level. Best thought for that is maybe herbicide. Or just continuing to muddle through while thinking of something else :slight_smile:


you could break the sheet rock, it’ll bend into lumpy spots that way. maybe a bit of cardboard layered on it if you can see the ground through the break

Good thought- I’ll need to take a closer look. But at that point, it might be easier to just pour wood-chips in the cracks, even if it would just be a temporary measure.

I should also note that it is cement board, not normal drywall. The cement board (also known as backer board, hardiboard, etc) actually has cement in it and is used for the wall in showers, rather than the drywall you would see in a bedroom, which doesn’t handle moisture well at all.

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I’ve used old carpet to suppress grass and it works fairly well. And there should be plenty of it if you have rentals.


@Fishsauce @BobVance

If you use old carpet, i would cover it with wood chips. In many areas, they would frown on using carpet. It is a great weed suppressant.

Carpet works for a while, but is difficult to remove if you change your mind later. Some weeds eventually sneak through it.


I’m definitely going to try the carpet route, I have a lot old carpet, but I will bury them deep under some wood mulch, otherwise they won’t look as nice. My sister won’t like it.

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I remember someone posting pics a long time ago. It seemed like after a while the carpet broke up and there was a lot of plastic debris left over. Maybe it depends on what type of carpet it is. That is one reason I like the cement board. Most of the leftover is just cement crumbs, though there could be a bit of mesh in it.

Actually, almost none of my rentals have carpets. Tenants don’t like them, especially an old one from a different tenant and there is a lot of overhead in replacing them all the time. They are good for noise suppression, so we suggest tenants get throw rugs. Whenever we do a renovation, we use LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) from Costco instead of carpets.


I currently use cardboard, but I’m thinking of trying gyproc sheets. Sounds whacked, but it is compostable and adds gypsum to the soil.


Just wonder with all the talk about using carpets and cement board, etc. Are there any concerns about harmful chemicals from those materials leaching out to soil and/or absorbed by our plants/fruit trees like old tires or treated lumber (in the past)?


My comfrey plants are so large they cover the base of most of my trees. Lately they have started to fall and I just chop them up. Thankfully they suppress weeds (or hide them) really well. I tried mulch (chicken throw everywhere), landscape fabric (broke down and got caught in the mower), wire to hold the fabric down (caught in the mower), wildflowers to compete with the weeds (the weeds won), glyphosate (drift harmed some trees), and now back to comfrey.


Not sure about cement boards, but I remember something about new carpets can have toxic fumes from VOCs (volatile organic compounds), which shouldn’t be a problem with old carpets being used outdoor.

There are over 15 different modern formulas for drywall. All but 1 potentially contain harmful ingredients that you do not want in your soil. When using drywall for alternative purposes it is best to only use basic whiteboard that you know has no anti mildew or mold ingredients added.

Greenboard may be safe since it is often the same center covered in a waxy, waterproof, usually green colored layer on the paper instead of the regular absorbent paper layer. Greenboard much like calling drywall gypsum board is not a standardized material or term. Instead it is a category contractors or manufacturers may use for a variety of similar drywall types. Companies don’t typically state whether their particular drywall product contains anything else to further reduce the risk of absorbing moisture or developing mold.

Most other drywall contains fiberglass and/or chemicals. Including basic paperless drywall.


on the topic of odd mulch materials old roofing wins in my experience easy to move around ever few months once the weeds are dead. Relatively toxin free depending on what you use painted or not etc. Very unsightly of course, and hazardous to bare foot walkers, also potential snake houses.

@Kaliska … i acted as general contractor when we built our home in 2001. I picked out and purchased all materials… hired all the subs, scheduled everything, etc…

The sheetrock standard material I purchased is nothing more than gypsum sandwiched between 2 thick sheets of paper.

No fiberglass, no mold or water or fire resistence type chemicals included.

I have cut several panels myself… it basically looks like chalk and paper. Absolutely nothing else in it. My brand was made in the USA… about that time … not long after we built… you started hearing about homes being built with drywall board made in CHINA… and there were several problems related to that.

Yes… you could get drywall board with chemicals and materials other than gypsum and paper…

I am sure the same is true for cardboard or other weed block materials… so yes be careful what you put down to block weeds.

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I didn’t read all of this but of course that’s not going to stop me from adding my two cents. :slight_smile:

I have an orchard roughly 65’ x 180’, mostly apples but also some pears, persimmons and blueberries. It’s surrounded by a 7 1/2’ fence to keep out deer with a chickenwire skirt to keep out rabbits, squirrels, woodchucks, etc. So far it is working beautifully.

I used to mow underneath the trees, but it was a huge PIA. Also, voles seemed to love the weeds and grass. I couldn’t walk through without scaring up a big fat vole or two.

Last year, I covered the whole thing in wood chips. A lot of wood chips. I have an unlimited supply from local arborists. My assessment is (1) weeds are 95% suppressed. I’m still wrestling with bindweed and wild blackberries, among a few others. (2) voles are 100% gone. (3) Insects that over-winter in the ground are reduced, though this may be a 1-time benefit. (4) The ground stays moist. (5) The air above the ground seems less humid. And (5) to my surprise, the temperature is slightly elevated. All of that is good.

While the fruit trees are still small-ish, there’s room between the trees for some potted figs and some vegetables. Planting the veggies has been a breeze. I just pull away the wood chips from a space of weedless ground, loosen up the soil, then plant.

Unless I get some unexpected nasty surprise, I’d never go back to a green floor that I have to mow.


After reading this thread, my husband and I decided to remove the 2 palm trees in the front, this time, we’re going to hire somebody to do it. The roots of these palm trees are everywhere, very thick. I even had a root barrier for each tree. I better do it now before we get too old and feeble,lol. While I’ve been doing all of my gardening work up until now, it’s almost impossible to remove these ugly roots DYI, we need to make gardening simpler for us to maintain.

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I just planted a dozen bareroot apples/cherries with about 8’ between each. Right now there is grass/weeds between them.

If I were to kill off the grass/weeds with wood chips, how thick of a layer would I need initially? I’m thinking it’s best to lay down clean cardboard over the grass/weeds first then put the wood chips on top?

I’m just looking for a clean path between the trees that I don’t have to mow…