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Old 06-21-2010, 01:15 PM   #1
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Help with low maintenance landscaping in Oregon.


I know, everyone hears it all the time, "Well what could you do that would be low maintenance?" or even worse, "What could you do that wouldn't require any maintenance?"

I'm not looking for a magic bullet.

Short Version (summary) at bottom.

Long story: I do, however, have a friend who would like me to do some work in her back yard for her. I've done plenty of gardening labor for friends and family before, but I've always avoided learning about plants for some reason. I guess I was afraid I would get too into it and spend a lot of time learning about plants, gardening, landscaping, farming, you name it--I hear it's a wonderfully never ending journey.

Last year I opened up my friend's 20,000-35,000 sq ft back yard by weed whacking black berries and a few thistles and patches of grass, and then hand digging every last blackberry root I could find. Not only is this safer for her daughter who is now playing back there than spraying would have been, but only about 3 or 5 vines out of the 1000s I dug up came back at all, and they did so very feebly.

Her backyard is on a slope. It slopes away from her house at about maybe a 15-20 degree angle, I know it's huge. I build a pathway for her last year and had to terrace it, by hand because there is no way to get anything larger than a lawnmower back there without using a crane.

I planted some strawberries and a raised bed for non-fruit bearing veggies (since the soil hasn't been tested and is in a city and likely to have something that would get into the leaves, tubers, roots, stems, w/e of veggies.)

THIS YEAR: I've come back and checked on the plants, which are doing mostly fine. The ferns, heather, a few rhododendrons, and other similar sized shrubs are doing well, but the grass and thistles are back with a vengeance (I didn't bother to pull all of them). I've pulled them out of the beds and weed whacked the rest. But I'd like to do something to keep them from coming back, especially in the veggie gardens. Someone suggested that I use straw, does anyone have any experiences with that? (FYI she doesn't want me to use landscaping fabric, or black plastic..)

Also I'm looking for some low maintenance ideas for landscaping. She didn't want to spring for an irrigation system, but I can temporarily setup a soaker hose on a timer(normally used for the veggies), until the plants are healthily adapted.

Short version (summary): I would like to know,
  1. Does straw around veggies work to keep weeds down, or slow their spread?
  2. What are some good, inexpensive, low maintenace shrubs and bushes for the Willamette Valley in Oregon?
  3. Any advice on ground cover in Willamette Valley in Oregon?
  4. Any inexpensive trees that thrive in Oregon?
  5. Any good privacy barrier plants that are good for fence lines?

Thanks for taking the time to read.

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Old 06-22-2010, 11:42 PM   #2
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Help with low maintenance landscaping in Oregon.


Fellow Oregonian here. I've found it's difficult to keep weeds down in the Willamette Valley, but using mulch from the lawn, straw or even bark nuggets always helps. If you're going to be laying mulch from the lawn around vegetables, make sure it hasn't been treated with weed'n'feed, or similar.

I'd say the lowest maintenance shrubs to use are those that are native to the area - Rhodies are great, obviously, but so are Oregon grapes or huckleberry plants - both can be found growing wild all over the state. Whatever you do, avoid planting invasive plants like Ivy, etc.

As far as ground cover goes, try lithidora - thrives in our climate and is beautiful.

For fence-lining shrubs, I'd go with Rhodies or Bamboo. Both are low maintenance and grow relatively quickly.

Good luck!

Fellow Oregonian here. I've found it's difficult to keep weeds down in the Willamette Valley, but using mulch from the lawn, straw or even bark nuggets always helps. If you're going to be laying mulch from the lawn around vegetables, make sure it hasn't been treated with weed'n'feed, or similar.

I'd say the lowest maintenance shrubs to use are those that are native to the area - Rhodies are great, obviously, but so are Oregon grapes or huckleberry plants - both can be found growing wild all over the state. Whatever you do, avoid planting invasive plants like Ivy, etc.

As far as ground cover goes, try lithidora - thrives in our climate and is beautiful.

For fence-lining privacy barriers, I'd go with Rhodies or Bamboo. Both are low maintenance and grow relatively quickly.

Good luck!

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