To Roundup or Not to Roundup?


OVERWHELMED AGAIN as I contemplate all that needs doing, landscape-wise, here at Green Half-Acre. In rough order of priority, this is what I hope to accomplish this fall/winter:

  • Board fence and gate across the front of property (80 feet) to create a feeling of seclusion and perhaps block traffic noise  — which no longer bothers me a fraction as much as it did when I first moved here in May. (It’s true what my neighbors said: “You’ll get used to it.”) I’m allowed a fence 4 feet tall without a Town of East Hampton permit.
  • Eight-foot-tall deer fencing around the other three sides of the property.
  • Gravel parking court in front, outside the fence/gate, big enough for 2-3 cars.
  • Removal of 4-5 large trees to allow for more sunlight and expanded gardening opportunities in backyard.

Last, possibly not until late winter/spring:

  • Construction of a patio. I haven’t decided on size, shape, or material yet.

Then and only then will I begin planting. I’m inspired by an article in a recent special issue of Fine Gardening magazine, called Green Gardens, about preparing garden beds without tilling. You just (“just”) outline their proposed shapes and start heaping fallen leaves, manure, etc. Composting on the spot, as it were. It takes time but saves digging. I hope to outline and prepare some of these beds in late fall and start planting next spring.


When I feel overwhelmed, it helps to remember all I’ve done so far. Above, my overgrown backyard in May ’09, before a major clearing of the property. The more I remove, the better I like it.

Meanwhile, I’ve created a monster in my attempts to do away with the rampant wisteria that invades the entire property. It’s bad throughout, but I’m particularly bothered by one area near the driveway, below, that measures roughly 10’x40′. I spent several hours in June digging and pulling and cutting the roots of wisteria (intertwined with lily-of-the-valley, which made a lovely fragrant bed in May).

Wherever I cut, apparently, fresh new sprigs of wisteria have sprouted up. For every one, there are now ten. I’m at a complete loss what to do. This particular area will be part of my new gravel parking court, so a backhoe will be coming in to excavate and break up existing asphalt. That ought to go a long way toward eliminating the pesky wisteria.


But the situation is almost equally dire elsewhere on the property. Digging and pulling wisteria is a losing game, like trying to stop the ocean from making waves. To Roundup or not to Roundup? That is the question. Besides disliking the very idea, would it even work?

6 thoughts on “To Roundup or Not to Roundup?

  1. Hi Cara, I have made most of my garden beds that way, but I find that a thick layer of newspaper or cardboard under the heaped up organic material helps prevent any grass or very hardy weed from growing through it. I lay my newspaper down, hold the edge down with bricks or stones, as I outline the bed and the just heap everything in. It is amazing how much it settles and decomposes during winter, so you might want to add topsoil in the spring (if needed).
    I love your blog, the stories are always so interesting.

  2. “Wherever I cut, apparently, fresh new sprigs of wisteria have sprouted up. For every one, there are now ten.”

    Sounds just like me and my gray hair. I have no answers to either problem!

  3. focus … on one thing … no fighting … (that’s my motto)
    I can carve out one planting bed at a time and keep it up and then add another and another … until i’m overwhelmed … and then i relax and enjoy and wait for another batch of inspiration and energy ! I don’t try to “conquer” Mother Nature – I try to work with her and coax her or at least make a truce.
    I use the plants that “spontaneously appear” because it’s cheaper and easier in the long run – and let’s face it, Mother Nature is going to win anyway !

  4. No to the Roundup. There was a story just a few days ago about weed killer leeching into drinking water. Anyhow, Long Island already has enough toxic waste to spawn several new Godzillas. Which would explain your mutant wisteria…

  5. Yes, I have to agree you should avoid using herbicide.

    BTW, is that a little gnome by the mailbox? Charming!

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