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clearing weed- and frog-infested bed

(9 Posts)
rachelp73 Sun 27-Jul-08 23:34:10

We have a border at the back of our garden which has been neglected while DS2 was very young and demanding! He's going to be in nursery 3 mornings a week from September so I'm going to have a bash at clearing it then, and putting a laurel hedge in next spring (to eventually mask a huddle of ugly sheds behind our fence), and some nice small shrubs in front of that.

A couple of questions. It is completely weed-infested for the most part - some brambles, ivy, grass, perennial and annual weeds etc. But we have a lovely patch of montbretia and also some nice ferns which we'd like to try and keep. Is there any way to keep these while we try and get rid of all the weeds around them, or is it best to clear the whole area completely?

Secondly, as it has become so wild, we have LOADS of little frogs living there. I am absolutely dreading the prospect of going in there to clear it. How do I do it so that I don't cause frog carnage?! I have visions of me sticking a fork in the ground only to find it has turned into a frog kebab!

girlywhirly Mon 28-Jul-08 09:58:54

You might do best digging out the whole root balls of the ferns, and the monbretia. You can pop them into a bin liner with the crowns of the plants out of the bags, this way yoou can keep them intact and moist until the ground is cleared and ready for your chosen planting scheme.

Regarding the frogs, they will relocate themselves to somewhere else while their habitat is being altered, but you can encourage them back when it's all done. Making small log piles at the back of the bed, or upturned old terracotta plant pots with a hole chipped out on one side (as a door) will make new homes for them. Never underestimate the benefit of little frogs for slug eating, they're terrific! Once the shrubs have established you won't be able to see the 'frog houses'. I think vigorous rustling of the brambles might make them hop off when you start the clearance, but accept their might be a few casualties.

rachelp73 Mon 28-Jul-08 22:26:13

Thanks, girly. Very helpful. Will do as you suggest with the ferns and mobretia.

Good hint about the frog "houses" too. Will try the terracotta pots idea. Really don't want to lose a single one as the kids love seeing 'em hopping about. I think I'll have to do the initial digging when the kids are not around, I don't want to traumatise 'em if my worst frog kebab nightmare happens. smile

By the way, I have heard that frogs actually scream - is that just a myth? God, I really think I am going to give myself nightmares tonight worrying about what will happen to these damn amphibians.

MARGOsBeenPlayingWithMyNooNoo Tue 29-Jul-08 01:23:08

I keep moving a toad in my garden to my borders hoping that it will eat all the slugs but it insists on going travelling hmm.

sushistar Tue 29-Jul-08 01:31:23

I think it's froggy breeding season? Maybe later in the year there'll be fewer?

girlywhirly Tue 29-Jul-08 10:27:52

Yes, frogs can scream! They do it to frighten off predators, i.e. when they've been caught by a cat and it is tormenting them. I don't think they'll do it if they get forked! Little frogs will be this from this springs tadpoles. Is there a pond in your garden or nearby? They will return to the same pond to breed year after year, so excellent ongoing slug control. I think that newly hatched slugs are the most voratious and do most garden damage as soon as they leave their eggs, so if you have a small army of hungry frogs, you'll be laughing. SO much more efficient than slug pellets, which can also be dangerous when ingested by children and pets.

You can also get hedgehog houses, they look like tiny kennels made of wood, you put in straw and dried leaves from around September time, and if a hedgehog likes it, it will hibernate there. You situate the house in an area of the garden sheltered by fairly dense shrubs.

rachelp73 Thu 31-Jul-08 00:29:13

Girly, our next door neighbour has a pond, yes. Come to think about it, I hardly see any slugs in our garden. So they're doing a good job with them. Pity they don't do the same to snails. A few months back, we were plagued with the damn snails and when DS1 was sent home from nursery with a list of bugs and other garden creatures to find, I thought the snail tickbox would be easy to fill in. So I go out there one morning before nursery with him and a jar (for putting easily-caught (ha!) snail in), only to find we had a snail holocaust. I gave up trying to find one alive or not fizzing after counting more than 30 dead snails in the immediate vicinity. Turns out DH had put slug pellets down the day before. Poor DS1 was a bit horrified. Also not impressed with the fact that he couldn't find one to take into nursery a few days later for the snail racing! hmm

Damn things are starting to come back again now.

girlywhirly Thu 31-Jul-08 09:40:37

I think you'll find hedgehogs will eat snails, as they have very strong jaws and sharp teeth! If you do get one in your garden, don't use slug pellets. I know when they have visited my garden, as they usually leave a little black poo on the patio or lawn - the only animal poo I'm happy to find in the garden!

Shame about the snail racing!

whistlejacket Wed 06-Aug-08 14:42:31

The montbretia and ferns will easily survive being moved. Montbretia are really tough - you can lift the bulbs, store them and replant them when you've got a spot for them. To get rid of the weeds you can cover the ground with polythene or old carpet for a few months. Unsightly but the lack of light will kill off the weeds and save you some hard work. Digging out might be tricky as some perennial weeds have very deep roots or if you leave one tiny bit of root in the ground they come back with a vengeance! Good luck with managing the frogs!

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