Mj Lacey

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since Jul 07, 2013
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Recent posts by Mj Lacey

Julia Winter wrote:It's been a long while (sorry!) but I'm curious - have you done something with this structure?

Hi Julia,

No apologies - thanks for checking in. No, not yet. It was set to be knocked out completely and replaced with a shed, then a veg plot - but the cost of doing some necessary prior work is proving extremely prohibitive. The whole area is surrounded by gravel on top of weed matting, that needs lifting and starting again (absolutely coated in weeds and soil as well now - why people use weed matting is completely beyond me). Its £000,s to do and I just cannot fathom how we will be able to afford it...

Are you facing a similar situation or just interested as to what happened here?
1 week ago

Leigh Tate wrote:Oh my, I had this same problem. I put down weed matting (landscape cloth) thinking it would control weeds and ended up with a terrible mess. Because it covered such a large area, my husband ended up taking a tiller to it to cut through the mass of grasses and weeds growing through it. That was a mistake! It ended up shredding the cloth, resulting in hundreds of tiny bits of the stuff everywhere. I tried to rake up as much as I could, but so much of it had to be picked up by hand.

Years later, I still find pieces of it! I learned my lesson and will never use it again. Unfortunately, I can't tell you the best way to remove it, other than to encourage you to use whatever method shreds it the least. Even if it seems to take more time it will save the backbreaking work of hunting and pecking to find and pick up a bunch of little shreds and pieces.

Please let us know what you end up doing and how it works. I'll be curious.

Thank you Leigh. Great to hear some direct experience.

Shovelling is my plan only to avoid this issue best I can, but what alot of work!

Hopefully someone has a magic bullet answer...
3 months ago
I have an area of my UK, zone 8/9 garden of around 200sqm. The area was used for a swing set for kids, a bunch of ornamentals and a gravel path. Underneath all of this is weed matting that is now, disintegrating or is very weedy with soil now accruing on the surface. Weed matting in this context, just seems to be one of the most idiotic time wasters I could think to apply. I didn't lay it but now I have to remove it...

The material on top is all between 3" and 6" deep. I plan on repurposing the area anyway as - in another act of genius by the previous occupier - this is the south side of the garden and accordingly, tall evergreen plants cast alot of shade to its north. My hope is to remove the taller shrubs / small trees and use for mulch and use the cleaner soil elsewhere. The gravel will go to fill potholes in the drive - although I'm having to build a sieve to separate the gravel from the soil its now in... Then, once the matting is lifted, I am thinking to lay grass seed / clover seed down for paths, and plant in between with perennial fruits / shrubs.

My question at the end of this ramble though - is there a better way for me to remove 3-6" of various materials on the matting, than just with hard graft and a spade? It feels like ALOT of back breaking work, but I'm not sure there is any better way - a digger for example would surely just tear up the matting at the same time?
3 months ago

greg mosser wrote:sure looks like it.

Much appreciated. It looks like the berry is coming up, right where the flower was before the petals blew away. If you have any experience with these it would be great to know if that sounds right also?
8 months ago
In my garden I have two of these and the flower looks exactly like a Juneberry. But I'm not sure - I've seen no berries on it and unfortunately the flower petals get blown off shortly after appearing, we have an issue with wind here...

Attached an image here to help of the leaves and flowers remaining - any thoughts? The is zone 9, south west UK.

8 months ago

Hester Winterbourne wrote:I would tend to agree with the folk who say it doesn't look like it needs pruning.  Why do you think it would "benefit"?  It does look like an oak, and possibly sessile rather than pedunculate, so presumably you're not looking for an improvement in fruit yield.  Seems a bit late to try and encourage a better habit for eventual timber production.  If it's been badly pruned in the past, I can see you might want to repair the damage by taking branches right out that had been cut back, but that's about all.  

I agree with you about UK tree surgeons, they cater for people who want their trees made smaller.  The customer is always right, and it creates more business in a few years when it needs doing all over again.

Much is to do with lateral branches causing embedded stress in the tree. There are a number of branches reaching up into the canopy that are all roughly the same size. Some of those have very long, thin branches reaching away from the tree. I would absolutely hate for something to break in high wind (we are quite near the coast), causing some sort of bigger issue for the tree and suddenly I be faced with taking it out entirely.

There is alot of bad pruning here, anything you can see whereby I have been in recently (three spots in the front) with a pole saw, has been trimming back a branch to the collar. The shortest was just cut off at around 20ft from it and was sprouting substantially. It was also rotting through the middle and no doubt would have been fatal at some point if left alone.

Its right by the house. I want to make sure its in the best possible shape for itself, but also insure best I can, against something that could cause a problem in the future - a root issue under the house or branch issue in the roof.

I am not sure what it is about UK arboriculture, but even those that suggest they care about trees, seem to have no interest really in (or knowledge of) the long term health implications. There is some bravado associated with the industry as far as I can tell. Something about power tools and climbing no doubt.
8 months ago

Skandi Rogers wrote:It looks like an English oak which although it's hard to estimate the girth would put it around the 150 year old mark. it also looks very healthy if a bit unsympathetically pruned, I assume because it shades other things. Lifting or thinning the canopy will not benefit the tree, though it may benefit you and anything you wish to put under it.

It is, correct. Some of the pruning may have been shade related (I've no idea unfortunately, we've not been here long) - the prior owner here was I understand, quite slap dash to this sort of thing and as mentioned elsewhere the only light work I have done has been trying to deal with spots where the tree was clearly in distress.
8 months ago

Mark Reed wrote:I agree with those that commented on what a beautiful tree it is. I can't see a single reason, from the trees point of view, that it needs any trimming at all. It's a glorious mature tree. I bet it's been there a 100 years at least. I wouldn't do a thing to it except protect it's root zone, no digging, no equipment at all, nothing but  a lawn chair or just a blanket where I could recline and listen to it's stories.  You say your in the UK? That tree probably remembers the sound of Hitler's Luftwaffe, the last thing I'd expose it to is the roar of a chain saw.

I am the proverbial tree freak. When I had the forester out to check my woods so I could put my land in "forest reserve" and not have to pay taxes I didn't know what "forest reserve" meant. Turns out it means chop then down for highest profit. He encouraged me to go ahead and harvest a stand of hard maples, some as big as your tree, said I should do that before a storm or something reduces their value.

I politely told hem he had overstayed his welcome and as far as the trees were concerned, they could die of old age and rot where they fall.

Thanks and I 100% agree. If I can leave it be, I'd be glad to. However, its a lack of expertise locally that is the concern. What I suppose I am really trying to do is to ensure that it is indeed healthy and will remain so for the next 20 years at current growth rate / trajectory.

There is dead wood spotted about the tree, a number of spots where laterals have been hacked off way away from the collar in the past (with sprouts) and alot of far reaching, but very skinny (contextually speaking) branches. There is also concern for all those branches in the middle. Many are roughly the same size and not far from 50% of the main leader. This may well all be absolutely fine and positive even, but I cannot say that as a layman. Its touching the roof in one spot and likely to be doing the same in another in the next 5-10 years. I would HATE to be forced to take action against the tree with root issues or hastily in a windy season, so I guess I'm just trying to be the best steward of this I can be for now.

But I absolutely am trying to do the best by the tree.
8 months ago

Jen Fulkerson wrote:I like cardboard, we seem to have an abundance of it because my son is addicted to Amazon. So it's a win win, get rid of the cardboard, and suppress the weeds.  It doesn't last that long, but it gives you some time to get enough mulch, which ever kind you choose, down to keep the weeds out.  If you choose to go with wood chips for paths, and aren't going to have enough of your own, lots of tree company's will give you wood chips for free.  The down side of this is you don't know what kind of wood you will get, or what chemical the tree was exposed to.  Pace yourself, when you have a huge project like that it's easy to get burnt out. Good luck to you.

Thanks. It's unfortunately not the case in the UK (where I am at least) that woodchip is really available. There are only a few arborists within 20-40 miles of me and I've tried them all. None are prepared to dump chips here, zero. I can find manure but that involes collecting, which in turn means I need to spend on buying, fitting and using a trailer for that. I'd rather sheet mulch but to do so is surprisingly hard here.

Cardboard I have been able to source though, in good order (large sheets, no tape or staples) and in a decent quantity.
8 months ago

Allison Whitacre wrote:Short answer, yes you can compost all those weeds! Chop em well and mix them in.

Long answer: use caution. Some weeds (we're looking at the ivy family here..) will somehow continue to grow even when buried into a pile. Baking them in the sun for a day or two first greatly helps prevent this. I love and hate my ground ivy. It's short so doesn't tend to bother my established plants, and the pollinators love the prolific purple flowers, plus it is super easy to pull up since it has a very shallow root and runner system. However, it takes a LOT of work to kill it. It's very hardy. My process is to pull it, spread it out on a tarp in the sun for 2 days, then add it to the compost pile. I immediately pull any very dedicated starts of it from the pile and repeat.

Thank you - thats helpful on the vines. Ivy is here as its essentially a woodland clearing with live in so I will try to take that approach in future.
8 months ago