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How to clean rock garden/mulch?

Posted by Contrary_Mary_CA z11 CA HiDsrt (My Page) on
Fri, Feb 25, 05 at 17:33

I am currently breaking my back attempting to clean my rock areas of dried leaves, petals, and so forth. This stuff builds up about every 3 mo's. and is very hard to blow out of the large and medium size river rock. I have moved the large rocks aside, cleaned and reset them. Sometimes vacuuming the stuff is a bit easier but is still time consuming, not fun at all and hard work. I can't hose anything down because the rocks are very efficient at holding in the moisture and the plants will rot. I found out the hard way.

The landscaper planted Lily of the Nile, a Crape Mrytle tree, low junipers, African boxwood, a Banks rose, a 2 tree roses within these various rock covered areas. My neighbor also has a mature Willow tree that drops most of the leaves and twigs onto my yard, much of it on the rock areas. I am at my wits end and not enjoying the gardening experience as I should. Any ideas?

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: How to clean rock garden/mulch?

Hi Mary, We had the same problem you speak of with debris accumulating in the stone. In our situation, we had just started gardening and had put landscape fabric down w/ decorative rocks over the top. We finally gave up and removed the smaller river rocks and the landscape fabric. I guess I don't have a solution to your problem, I do know of folks who put nets up in the fall to protect their ponds from falling leaves; but this wasn't practical for us since the garden area was so large. The leaves make excellent compost, though... ;-) My fatherinlaw has a hillside garden which he set up the same way with the landscape fabric covered w/ fieldstone. He didn't clean up the debris and now, 20 years later, there is enough compost built up to grow plants on top of the landscape fabric in between the rocks, which is a nightmare to deal with. He's thinking of redoing the whole area, and going with just the large stones the way we did. Good luck, Mary, and if you find a solution, let us know.

RE: How to clean rock garden/mulch?

use a leaf blower

RE: How to clean rock garden/mulch?

Hi all:
I made an executive decision over the weekend regarding the rock areas and hopefully it is going to work out - I am tearing out the landscape fabric under the rocks so that nature can do the job she does so well, break down debris. The landscape fabric has not detered the weeds from growing right through, and literally tearing holes by some of the bigger weeds. We have so many ants of different kinds here that make nests and collect seeds from the desert floor. Until the first rains hit there is no guessing where the weeds may be concentrated. The point though, the landscape fabric is not functioning as it is supposed to, so away with it! I am putting down preemergent in the rock areas, along with ant repellant and I think I will have a fine rock area. The plants may even do better as the ground may dry a bit and I should not have the issue of plants rotting from too damp earth. I think that this has been a learning experience as you said Krensgarden. So I will live with this for the growing season and fall and then make a judgement.

A note of caution to gardeners who may be putting together a rock area that also is subject to garden debris blowing around it, don't put down landscape fabric!

RE: How to clean rock garden/mulch?

Hi Mary,
Our two climates are extremely diverse, with you in the CA desert and our garden located in WI, but we both had the same problems with the landscape fabric. I wonder if anyone has had any good experiences with it? I know just what you mean about the aggressive weeds and the moisture retention problems, it's been almost 20 years since we last used it. After removing the fabric and the plants established themselves, maintaining the area was actually less work than dealing with the so-called labor saving fabric. We also use a mulch of wood chips between the plants to keep down weeds and retain moisture, which in turn improves the soil as it decomposes.

I have to admit my knowledge of desert gardening is almost nonexistent, Mary, but I am fascinated by the subject. Can you use a mulch on your desert plantings, or does that retain too much moisture as well? We are sort of dabbling with alpine plants at the moment, trying new things out. Though our soil is very sandy, we still have to work on learning some of the best methods of providing the proper growing conditions, and this has been a learning experience, too! Best of luck, Mary! Karen

RE: How to clean rock garden/mulch?

We have 3 soft mapleI have the exact same problem & am very pleased to have read your conversation. We have box elder bugs which also love breeding and laying eggs in the rocks on my deck furniture and plant leaves. We have 3 100 ft soft maples which drop stuff about 75 % of the non snow season. I have tried all of the things that u 2 have and am close 2 calling it quits. I wondered why most of my neighbors refrained from gardening. Now I am pretty sure I understand. Summer is just too short.

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