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I have been spending a lot more time in my garden this year than ever before. I have tackled some bigger jobs and seem to be making progress, but there are some plants that will not quit coming back to haunt me! I cut and I cut and I cut, and it seems that they are back almost the next day. The biggest problems in my yard at the present are privet,

Virginia creeper,

Vinca major

and poison ivy.

Two native plants and two non-native plants.

Privet is a large shrubby plant that is in full bloom right now.

You will see it blooming all along the roadsides. Some like the sweet fragrance of the flowers, while others find it offensive.

I have found that I am allergic to it. This is the first time this season that I am taking allergy pills regularly, and my eyes still itch like crazy. The problem with privet is that after the white blooms, the plant sets a copious amount of black berries which the birds adore.

They eat the fruit and drop the seeds and voila, more privet.

They grow quite quickly and the problem just multiplies. My neighbors yards are full of them, and I try to keep everything cut from mine, but it is a never-ending task. One of my favorite garden tools is a pole chainsaw. Mine is three years old, and this season it did not cut very well, so I bought a new chain.

My what a difference a sharp chain makes. I am sure there is some way to sharpen the old one, but for $11 I figured a new chain was worth it. I used it until the battery died and made quite a dent in my privet population. Then I lugged all the branches to the street. I will tackle more this week.

Second only to privet as a dreaded weed in my yard, is the native Virginia creeper.

It is everywhere this year, even more so than poison ivy--another native. Virginia creeper doesn't creep, it runs a marathon! It grows up my house,

the deck, in flower beds and even in the vegetable garden I will get sprouts. It is everywhere. It has a gorgeous fall color,

but I don't want an entire yard of Virginia creeper, which I would have if I didn't constantly pull it and cut it. I had a huge pile for the yard trash this week.

Vinca major is still sold at probably every nursery in Arkansas as a groundcover.

You could come dig all you want for free from my yard.

Again, I have neighbors on two sides who just let it run and run it does--all over their yards but also into mine. I weedeat it

and I have found pretty good success with the landscape fabric and mulch this year,

but I haven't done the entire area, so it will keep coming.

I have heard from many that they have more poison ivy this year than ever.

I think we can again thank the birds. Last year poison ivy did have a good fruit set.

The birds are not affected by the toxicity and they eat the fruits, then deposit the seeds in our gardens and again, we have more poison ivy.

Learn to recognize it. Many get poison ivy and Virginia creeper confused.

Poison ivy always has three leaflets, while Virginia creeper can have three when young but has 5 leaflets when mature. Look at how the leaves are attached. On poison ivy, the bottom two leaflets are touching while the middle leaflet has a small petiole or stalk. The Virginia creeper leaflets are all attached at the same point, regardless of how many of them there are.

Maintenance of a garden is not always fun, but a job that must be done. Be careful what you plant, and learn to recognize what is growing.

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