Last weekend, I sat in the garden of the Orange County Social Club and talked with a very pleasant woman who keeps goats. Based on her experience with the finer points of keeping goats, the whimsy of the Rent-a-Goat ivy management option has wandered off down the road, bell a-ringin’. I described the condition of the yard, and she said we would probably need to rent a herd of goats for at least a week to see any real results. And, if we did choose to go with goats, there was no guarantee the animals would eat the roots and prevent the ivy from coming back. The absolutely best option, she said (which was supported by several blog commenters) is to buy a goat and let the goat go nuts in the yard for the length of his entire natural life. We live, however, within walking distance of a Cold Stone, which is the lone federal standard required to designate a neighborhood as a non-agricultural zone, and livestock of any whit or wither need not apply.
Back to Square One: managing the ivy by hand.
We’re starting in two locations. The first is by the pool, so we can reclaim space for a garden and a scrap of real lawn. The second is under two gorgeous mature red maples. The red maples make ivy removal difficult, as they are highly sensitive to herbicides and anything used to kill the ivy might kill the trees. One Hired Dude recommended that we never use herbicide or chemical weed control within 25 feet of the maples, since it might soak into the soil and penetrate the roots.
So we’re going to smother the ivy to death.
Since we just moved, we have a metric ton of Styrofoam hard packing sheets and cardboard boxes. These were layered over the ivy to keep out light.
Problem is, the trees need water. We had to leave a twelve-foot opening around the base of the trees for rainwater and whatnot. I’m not terribly concerned about depriving the trees as they are in gullies (part of the water management project on the roster for the spring) and water runs down under the cardboard when it rains, but better safe than sorry with trees like these.
The cardboard will stay over the winter and into the early spring. During the winter, we’ll tear out the upper layer of the exposed ivy but leave the roots. Since the ivy is holding the topsoil in place, the covered ivy and roots will stay as they are until we get around to the big water management projects. Add some shade-loving brush and flowers, and presto! The beginnings of real landscaping.
Good golly, spring is going to suck.