Q: In August 2010, my family moved into the home that my great-grandparents built at the end of the 19th century. We are limited in time and resources, but are trying to slowly “reclaim” the beds. We are overwhelmed with Florida betony. I need some fresh gardening perspective from you as to how to tackle the yard, step-by-step with my kids.
A: Millen is lucky to have you making it prettier! With so much on your plate, I think your best bet is to conserve what you have, fight your biggest enemy (betony) and use copious amounts of mulch to unify the landscape. If the kids are old enough, use them to spot betony sprouts and put red survey flags by each one. Then you can come out on your own time to spray the weeds with glyphosate (Roundup, etc). Older kids could draw a scale landscape sketch, place water hose to mark bed lines and research low-maintenance plants to install together. Once your beds are relatively weed-free, spread mulch. It’s wonderful how $100 spent on mulch can make the whole landscape more pleasing. As the years progress you can decide when you’re ready for a more involved landscape. Or you may decide to concentrate on your family and let the landscape remain in “basic mode”. Let this advice be your guide: If you are feeling guilty about what you haven’t done in your landscape, you are attempting too much.