Mj Lacey

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since Jul 07, 2013
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Recent posts by Mj Lacey

Artie Scott wrote:Hi MJ, just curious, what concern are you trying to address?  Is it the aesthetics, or something else?  In my experience, gravel begs for weeds to grow up through it. It is permeable, and the stone and fines do a great job of acting as a mulch, conserving moisture to nurture the little weed seeds till they sink deep roots.  Unless it is heavily trafficked, it will grow weeds. Look at any gravel driveway with a strip of grass down the center.  Honestly, it is easier to get grass and weeds to grow in my gravel driveway where I don’t want them than it is in my pasture where i try everything to get it going!

It isn’t necessarily bad though - if the point of the gravel is to support foot or vehicle traffic, it will still do that even with the weeds or grasses growing through it. It likely even helps reduce erosion and washing away of the gravel in heavy rain events, and doesn’t absorb as much heat. You would need to mow it periodically tho, so that’s a negative. It might also be somewhat more slippery when wet, depending on how thick it gets.

I think the best option if it is for appearance is to invest in a landscape rake for your tractor or riding mower, as Skandi suggests, and rake it regularly.

Much of it is aesthetic - the nature of the house and the paths is that if I let the weeds run, it looks highly uncared for - which I don't want to be the case! But you raise a fair point in erosion concerns. As noted in the original post, I'm not adverse to cultivating some of the driveway at least, at least then I can take a yield from it from clippings or something.

Chris Kott wrote:Hi Mj. I agree with your assessment about the replacement strategy. That would be a lot of continuous work.

I recently suggested a flame weeder to family with a rock garden. They had been using roundup previously. Another option that might work is spraying with cleaning-strength vinegar. Also, if you have access to crushed lime to top up your gravel, and if the stuff growing in your gravel doesn't like the corresponding change in pH, that might do it for you, as well as filling in air spaces and blocking out sun access.

I hope you find a solution you like. Good luck, and keep us posted.


Hmmm - lime is a good idea, I could likely source some. As silly as it sounds, I hadn't thought about spraying non poisonous substances. Thanks.
I'm wondering if anyone has any effective means of dealing with weeds in gravel. We have recently taken on a property with a gravel drive and paths - and it wasn't long before 'weeds' started appearing. I've spent a good few days pulling weeds all over the property, but as is the age old problem, its merely days before they are back and another few days of work are needed. The gravel is definitely in need of updating and increasing in places, but it would be an enormous expense, not to mention a huge volume of material, to introduce enough to completely kill off any weeds.

I have had a few ideas but nothing that really works in my view:

Replace gravel paths with another material - grass or wood chips. Expensive, labour intensive, would mean a yield at a later date for the garden. Probably not a good idea on the driveway.
Burn the weeds - if I can remove any dangerous materials from under the gravel (there is degraded plastic sheeting in some paths), this strikes me as a very fast way of removing weeds when they poke up. Fast, but feels quite extreme and merely kills, rather than actively deals with the weeds.
Plant the gravel - I don't think this would work, but I had a thought that at least on the driveway, I could move gravel from the middle of the drive and actively cultivate this area, maybe with some hardy grasses or something that could be used on the garden. I could use the surplus gravel to fill pot holes but this doesn't really deal with weeds anywhere but the middle of the drive.

I'm sure nobody is keen on being on their knees for days on end, pulling weeds so does anyone have any strategies they have employed to at least minimise this ongoing issue in this medium?

Joylynn Hardesty wrote:Do you have any pictures of the trees?

5 months ago
I have 2x apple trees that sit in a flat ish, clay ridden soil that is quite prone to flooding in the wet. They sit under the shade of a taller canopy and have been neglected for some years, with shoots everywhere and very gnarly branches. This has all resulted in disease for both trees by way of a canker and additional fungal disease. One of the trees I have been advised, isn't salvageable - every single branch and part of the trunk is diseased significantly and I have nothing to cut back to in terms of healthy wood. If I have to fell it accordingly, there will be a stump in the ground and I figured its worth at least exploring, reusing the rootstock?

Could I graft onto the stump, healthy new scions, maybe even some that are going to be better tolerant of the conditions? Or, in general is disease going to be in the roots too, so I will only ever grow disease ridden trees here? I'm not sure if there is a reset available to me.

No idea how I would identify the age or what the rootstock is (if it even is a 'rootstock' in the modern sense). They have been there for some time, but not sure how long exactly. The site has been a mill since the 13th century and in the last couple of hundred years at least, there has been some pressing for juice happening here. They don't look this old though.

Any thoughts appreciated. Trying to avoid it just being a stump in the ground.
5 months ago
I plan to start introducing organic matter to an area of my garden that is quite clay ridden, but very rocky and if we have consistent rain here in the UK, prone to some flooding. Given the resources I have at my disposal, trench composting is I hope a good solution for now to introduce, organic matter and break uk the soil some. I may also spread a green manure type cover crop, as at the moment its all grasses and weeds.

The intention for this area is a forest garden, so I want to make sure I have good soil / soil depth for planting this sort of a system and (this is just a guess) I might mitigate some of my flooding issues, by changing the soil (or at least the topsoil) a bit further away from being clay), increasing permeability and therefore, opening up the types of trees I can plant here in the next couple of years.

I was hoping to get some broad ideas as to the best approach to trench composting for the above intention and have a few specific questions. Hopefully someone can offer some advice on:

  • How deep to dig down and bury the matter? Normally I believe 1/2ft but is that enough given I will plant trees in the space.
  • When backfilling, I've had advice that I should tread down the soil to compact it a little, but should this still apply is a clay soil already seemingly fairly compacted?
  • The rocks and stones are plentiful. I dug a small hole circa 3 ft long and 2 ft wide. Every shovel down hit a rock - generally fist sized, some smaller. Some people seem to have removed rocks, other left them suggesting that others will only appear in their place later. Any view on whether these should be filtered out?
  • Some of the organic waste comes from other plants in the garden. I've seen it suggested that weeds, seed heads etc all can be composted in this way - but is it not prone to then being weedy / plants popping up from the seeds?

  • In particular I have Euphorbias elsewhere in the garden that I absolutely want to get rid of. They are poisonous, take up enormous space and have spread seed all over the garden. These species also don't seem to flower so not alot here for pollinators either. I am not sure if I can add these and all their milky sap into trenches / general compost. If I can trench compost these, fantastic - but its so pervasive that I really don't want to risk it returning just in a new spot. What can I do with problem plants if not composting? Burn?

  • Many thanks for any advice Keen to get off on the right foot.
    5 months ago

    Mike Jay wrote:I think it could work very nicely.  You might want to check out Edible Acres on youtube.  He has some "cattle panel" greenhouses that are pretty cheap.  Here's a permies link to some of the videos: Link  If the plastic is removed in the winter, the snow won't crush it (if you have snow).  If it's just holding out critters, chicken wire down low may be all the additional fencing you'd need.

    Thanks - yes I subscribe to Seans channel, I've had the privilege of meeting him at a PDC. He really is a nice guy.

    If its a workable idea, why don't more people do this? There must be some horrible downside I'm missing!

    No problem on merging, not sure why it went up twice apologies...
    5 months ago
    My veg patch has so far proved something of a failure due entirely to the community of rabbits and alike that live in the woods adjacent to our property. They've enjoyed all its returns enormously so far. Its also too far from the house - I had little choice on placement as around the house is very shady / very mature already. This is of course far from ideal, both for my access and for ease of access for critters.

    It was built while I was designing the rest of the site and its becoming clearer to me that the rest of the site, is more akin to a forest garden than anything else. I'm questioning having an annual garden at all at the moment, but the returns coming in months rather than years would be really nice to have.

    Any veggie / annual garden I plant likely needs to be fenced and thinking back to Ben Falk's book he talks about fencing in crops, rather than animals which I think is something I need to look into. In doing so though, I was wondering if I could kill a number of birds with a single stone so to speak. Rather than just fencing, why not build a polytunnel? It would give additional security, longer growing season, a slightly controlled environment - and by containing the annual garden, I no longer have to dedicate additional space to that.

    What are the downsides to having your annual garden, in this sort of environment though? As far as I can tell:

    Expense - cost of the tunnel / greenhouse.
    Irrigation - without direct rain access, one would need an irrigation system (although that could be delivered via rainwater catchment most likely).
    Ongoing maintenance - the structure would need maintenance and replacement somewhere in the future.

    Anything else? Just exploring the idea.
    5 months ago