How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations?

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ThankYouJack
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How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations?

Post by ThankYouJack » Thu Apr 02, 2015 7:43 pm

I'm planning to put a good size mulch island with a couple trees, flowers and possibly small plants. Any tips on the best way to set it up? I'm guessing I need to dig out all of the grass. Should I also dig out a trench? It would be nice if the island has a bit of a slope to it.

Where's a good place to buy a lot of mulch? I may just do Lowes / Home Depot unless the price savings is significant

Also, any recommendations on a basic lawn mower and battery string trimmer?

livesoft
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by livesoft » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:24 pm

What do your neighbors do? What "beds" have you seen that you like? What native trees do well in your neighborhood?

I went to google.com and typed in "beds landscaping rocks" (no quotes) and looked at images. Lots of possibilities.

Also one can use maps.google.com and "walk" neighborhoods near you from the comfort of your own laptop. You might even see me in my front yard as the google camera car captured me working on my lawn. :)

If you suggest plants and a zip code, I can tell you whether those plants would work for the weather there or not.
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CABob
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by CABob » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:28 pm

Check with the company that does the green waste recycling in your area. They may have a good deal on mulch.
My local sewage treatment plant sometimes has the stuff they recover from treatment available for free. I have picked up a couple of trash cans full a few times.
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Flobes
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by Flobes » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:40 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:...Any tips on the best way to set it up? I'm guessing I need to dig out all of the grass...
Step One: Solarize the grass. Google will show you several strategies.The highly-effective, labor-reducing, non-chemical, simple process eliminates the grass for good. It takes six weeks. And during that time, you can plan the rest of your installation.

dolphinsaremammals
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by dolphinsaremammals » Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:01 pm

You don't want to plant too much stuff under the drip line of trees. They will compete with each other. It's also not good for trees to get the amount of water smaller plants need.

For a minute there, I thought you had bought an actual island.

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6miths
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by 6miths » Thu Apr 02, 2015 11:49 pm

Yes I was thinking an actual island too.

Costco beats HD and Lowe's around here for mulch. Usually cheaper than bulk delivery as well but you could check that out. Costco only has mulch in these parts in May and June.
'It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so!' Mark Twain

The Wizard
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by The Wizard » Fri Apr 03, 2015 4:33 am

I get a cubic yard of mulch in my pickup when I need it.
I have a modest rock garden that I fiddle with from time to time, mostly digging out unwanted plants, it seems...
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barnaclebob
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by barnaclebob » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:37 am

Instead solarizing or digging up grass just put cardboard on top of it then put your mulch or dirt on top of that. By the time the cardboard decomposes the grass will be long gone. Works great with raised beds, if you're not burying the grass very deep (<4") then maybe it wont work. I only say that because I haven't personally tried covering up grass with cardboard less than 4".

A Mattock and shovel seem like the best tools for the job.
Last edited by barnaclebob on Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Flobes
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by Flobes » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:25 am

barnaclebob wrote:...just put cardboard on top of it then put your mulch or dirt on top of that. By the time the cardboard decomposes the grass will be long gone...
I tried the buried cardboard strategy, and it failed. Grass is surprisingly strong and pernicious; it seemingly grows best where you least want it. This season, I'll be solarizing the fourth major section of the yard, using the very same high-grade special plastic.

barnaclebob
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by barnaclebob » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:30 am

Flobes wrote:
barnaclebob wrote:...just put cardboard on top of it then put your mulch or dirt on top of that. By the time the cardboard decomposes the grass will be long gone...
I tried the buried cardboard strategy, and it failed. Grass is surprisingly strong and pernicious; it seemingly grows best where you least want it. This season, I'll be solarizing the fourth major section of the yard, using the very same high-grade special plastic.
Huh, it worked great for me. How much dirt did you have on top of the cardboard when you tried it?

vesalius
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by vesalius » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:21 am

barnaclebob wrote:
Flobes wrote:
barnaclebob wrote:...just put cardboard on top of it then put your mulch or dirt on top of that. By the time the cardboard decomposes the grass will be long gone...
I tried the buried cardboard strategy, and it failed. Grass is surprisingly strong and pernicious; it seemingly grows best where you least want it. This season, I'll be solarizing the fourth major section of the yard, using the very same high-grade special plastic.
Huh, it worked great for me. How much dirt did you have on top of the cardboard when you tried it?
This may work with some lawn grasses, but not others. Some southern grasses, such as bermuda, zoysia and maybe St Augustine, will happily fight their way through cardboard and even many types of landscape fabric for the first 2. Most northern grasses would not.

Now in regards to the OP's question, these more invasive southern grass species do not grow well in dense shade so the cardboard may work in this instance.

LeeMKE
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by LeeMKE » Fri Apr 03, 2015 10:59 am

by barnaclebob » Fri Apr 03, 2015 8:37 am

Instead solarizing or digging up grass just put cardboard on top of it then put your mulch or dirt on top of that. By the time the cardboard decomposes the grass will be long gone. Works great with raised beds, if you're not burying the grass very deep (<4") then maybe it wont work. I only say that because I haven't personally tried covering up grass with cardboard less than 4".

A Mattock and shovel seem like the best tools for the job.
I've done this in Northern and Southern climes. Here's how it works for me:
Dig a trench around the area you want the bed. This will serve to drain off excess water both now and after the bed is established. Just 6 " deep and a half shovel full wide. If you have grass that spreads by runners, (St. Augustine, Zoysia) the trench must be deep enough to sever existing runners. You might want to go 8" to be sure you have disconnected the buggers.

Cover the island with at least 4 layers of newsprint. Use a hose to wet it down while you are working so it isn't an nuisance blowing around. Cardboard can be used instead of 2 layers of newsprint BUT the problem is that ANY cracks that allow sunlight radiation in will thwart your project. I put down the newsprint two pages thick, water, then put down another layer of two pages thick that covers the edges of the first layer. Extend the newspaper cover over the trench, with edges beyond the edge of the trench. If I have plenty of newsprint, I put down more. If you have grass with runners, there is no such thing as TOO much cover.

Get bricks, stones or gravel and pour in the trench to COVER the edges of the newsprint. NO SUNLIGHT must be allowed to get to the soil in the island. I tuck under the outside edge of the newsprint so it can't be seen past the bricks.

Cover the island with mulch. 4" to 6" of mulch works for me. You can use the cheapest stuff you can find because you won't be planting in it for a long time and it will break down and be harmless by planting. I pile it on generously. 8" is not too much (as I found when our neighbor accidentally took delivery of enough mulch to cover his entire lot and I carted as much of it as possible to my yard to help get rid of it)

Leave it alone for a year. The neighbors will think you planted something that takes a long time to come up.

The following year, scrape aside the mulch where you want to plant, shovel though the paper, plant the trees, shrubs, etc. and put another layer of newsprint around the new plant, and a thinner layer of mulch (2"). It will take several years for the thick layer of mulch to break down. In the meantime, your plants will be in little bowls of less mulch.

TRUE STORY: We bought a house with nominal landscaping and I hired a landscape architect to design a plan for me. There was an island in the front corner that had a sad tree in it. She removed that bed in her plan, so the first summer, I removed the island. By the end of the summer, the lawn next to this island was dying from too much standing water, and we had water loving weeds taking up residence downhill from that previous island. I realized this had been a water trap to solve a drainage problem, but now I had lawn in place. Installing a drain was very expensive. So, I did the practice above, and researched plants/trees that were tolerant of having their roots wet. The next year I planted my "water garden" and the neighbor's lawn recovered, and those water weeds went away.

In Texas, I installed a brick edging after the one year killing. That St. Augustine would get back into the bed if I didn't, but that was the case with all our beds.
The mightiest Oak is just a nut who stayed the course.

ThankYouJack
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Re: How to landscape an island and lawn tool recommendations

Post by ThankYouJack » Fri Apr 03, 2015 12:11 pm

Thanks for the replies. I like the green, easy maintenance options the best. My only concern is it's tough to visualize how it will look and if it will look odd having a big island of mulch in my front yard.

I think this looks nice but the trees are too big for the amount of space in my front yard.
- http://bahcetedarik.com/Images/urun/IMG_00881.jpg

I may call a couple landscapers and see what they recommend

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