Living in the Garden of Weeden

I have a dirty little secret, actually it’s more like a weedly little secret. While I’ve been working on this side of the yard…

Perennials Bed Along Side Brick Walkway

I’ve been trying hard to ignore this side. I just wasn’t ready to face the disaster that awaits on the other side of the driveway. Years ago my perennial garden contracted a terrible weed infestation. I’m talking super-dooper, on steroids, kind of weed infestation.

Garden of Weeden

I’ve weeded it numerous times but there’s some kind of vine or weed in there that no matter how many times I pull it out, I can never get rid of it. It always comes back with a vengeance.

More Weeds

I think I may even have some poison ivy, poison sumac and poison oak in there. I’m highly, highly allergic to all that kind of stuff so today I dressed in long pants, a long shirt and gloves and started pulling the weeds, yet again.


Besides the vine weeds, another hard-to-get-rid-of-weed I’ve been battling is this one—Chamber Bitter.



May I just say, I’m super bitter about having Chamberbitter in my yard! The back of each frond is covered with wall-to-wall seeds, so sometimes as you pull out one weed, it scatters seeds and replants 200 more! If you have that plant in your yard, the info online suggests pulling it out and then putting out a preemergent to try and stop the seeds from growing new plants.


I filled up an entire large trash bag and half of another one with the weeds from this area.


But I realized the situation was hopeless when I started pulling out all the weeds and vines in the rest of the garden. As I pulled out the viney weeds, they all kept breaking off at the ground level, leaving the roots firmly in the ground.

I need a better plan. I’ve been here and done this before. Many times. It obviously isn’t working.

When I was having the front yard sodded with Zeon Zoysia, I temporarily thought of just giving up the perennial garden and letting my landscaper dig it all up and sod over it. But I loved this garden for many years before the super invasive vine-weeds took over. So I’ve decided to rebuild it from scratch. You can see it in its “glory days” in this post: Creating a Perennial Garden

I have someone coming out on Wednesday to discuss the trees and shrubs I’ll be planting around the front of the house and in the back this fall.  I’m going to ask her about this area. I think what it needs is someone coming in with a small bulldozer thingy and basically digging everything up. Not sure I’ll even try to keep any of my existing plants. I’ll only do that if I can make sure none of the weeds are staying with them.

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While I was working, I discovered I wasn’t alone.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

Someone is out here working full time trying to keep the garden bug free.

Black and Yellow Garden Spider

This is the second one of these spiders I’ve seen this week.  I looked it up online and it’s called a “Black and Yellow Garden Spider.”  Uh, duh—we kind of knew that, right?  πŸ™‚ It’s scientific name is  Argiope aurantia, just in case you wonder about those kinds of things.

This spider feeds on small flying insects like aphids, flies and grasshoppers. The info I found said they can bite people, but rarely do. And if they bite, it doesn’t normally cause any real problems. Good to know, right?  I know they are beneficial since they eat the bugs we don’t want in our gardens. I’m so glad I didn’t try to weed that end of the garden first!

Black and Yellow Garden Spider 2


Before I end this post, I have to tell you about these awesome garden gloves! I was in Walmart a couple of weeks ago and came across these. You know how garden gloves can be kind of expensive? Well, these were only $2.97 for a pack of three!  I didn’t expect much from $1 gloves but they are awesome! I liked them so much, a few days later I drove back and bought 9 more packs. So I’m set for gloves for a long, long time.

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I always like garden gloves that are rubbery on one side and have stretchy, breatheable fabric on the top side. The sleeve part is long enough and snug enough, it keeps dirt from getting down inside the glove. The fingers aren’t too long either so you don’t get all that empty finger space at the end that can make gardening really hard while wearing gloves. The mediums were perfect for my hands. I love ’em and you can’t beat the price at a $1 a pair! Just wanted to share this find in case you need garden gloves and don’t like paying big bucks for them.

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Have you seen any Black and Yellow Garden Spiders in your garden this year? Ever been bitten by one?

Are you living in the Garden of Weeden, too?

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  1. Thanks for the tip on the garden gloves! A gardener never has enough gloves. When parts of my garden have been taken over with invasive weeds, I have covered the area with heavy cardboard and then a thick layer of mulch or wood chips. The weeds and seeds are killed because they don’t get any light. This area will be weed free and ready to plant next spring.

    • Katie, I like that idea, but the only problem is the best time to plant perennials is in the fall. So I need to get this whole area weed free in the next 3-4 weeks. ~~~sigh~~~

  2. Good luck with your weeding. I just pay extra to the gardener to do the weeding as I can’t get down on my old knees anymore. You probably right I would have everything dig up, treat the soil with weed killer and start all over again. I’m with you on poison ivy, I only have to look at it and I get it.
    Hopefully the lady will have some great suggestions for your weed problem.
    Have a great weekend.

  3. Dig it all out, put the preen down, replant and add some landscape fabric then mulch- great buy on the gloves!

  4. Vicki Daugherty says

    I love your play on words title…. Garden of Eden to Garden of Weeden…..too cleve! And that other side of yard will be whipped into shape soon with you on the weed warpath. You have an amazing amount of energy and I’m a tad bit jealous because I cannot take the high heat and had to give my yardwork to someone else. I miss not digging in the dirt, but the heat is too harmful. Best of luck when your landscape advisor visits.

    • I’m definitely on the weed warpath. I can stick my head in the sand with the best of ’em but once I pull it out, get out the way! That garden is on my radar now! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Vicki. I saved the weeding for this morning because the heat gets pretty rough in the afternoon. Morning isn’t too bad, though. Maybe when fall gets here you can play outside again.

  5. Vicki Daugherty says

    Oops, I do know how to spell clever!!!!

  6. Susan, is the vine that’s invading your border the one we can see trailing onto the walk in the third photo? If so, it looks like Virginia creeper.

    • Pam, that is one of them but that’s not the one that keeps breaking off at the soil level. There are actually about 3 vines in there now. The one that is growing out over the grass is new…don’t remember seeing it last year. I got rid of it today, at least the part over the grass, but I just realized I was wasting my time when everything was breaking off. It all needs to be fully dug out. πŸ™

  7. OMG! I was just out there today trying to get pictures of the spiders, but my camera is a Sony Cyber-Shot and is not powerful enought o take the great pics you took. Amazing picture… I’m taking a photography class and I feel very intimidated about my little camera. Perhaps, I should go out and get a better one.

    • This must be spider season because I haven’t seen any of the garden spiders until this week and I’ve seen two in the last few days. Keep your eyes open when you’re out there! I would not want to run into their web and not know where the spider was. I took those pics without a tripod…need to use a tripod to get them a bit sharper.

  8. Tess Maxey says

    Those are my favorite gardening gloves. I buy myself a new pair every year! Sounds like you need brush b gone on those viney weeds. Can’t wait to see what you do!!!

  9. Yup, that’s Virginia Creeper, I have it in my yard. It is NOT poison ivy, but it can irritate some people’s skin. Not mine, I’m immune to it. It’s pretty in the Fall, when it turns colors, but it does tend to take over, kinda like Wisteria! This is what I found out about killing it:
    Virginia creeper leaves change to a vibrant crimson red in the fall.

    Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) has an aggressive nature and can grow horizontally along the ground or vertically up trees and structures. Gardeners can identify this woody vine growing in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9 by the five leaflets it produces. When Virginia creeper begins growing on or in desirable plants, it blocks sunlight while choking and crowding the wanted vegetation. You can kill this annoying vine using common herbicides readily available at garden centers.

    Wear a pair of chemical-resistant gloves and safety glasses to protect skin and eyes from the herbicide.

    Unravel the Virginia creeper carefully if it is entangled with desirable plants. Try to keep the weedy vine intact while unraveling it from other plants.

    Follow the Virginia creeper to ground level and stretch out the vine — while still rooted in the soil — laying it flat on the ground. Alternatively, lay a piece of plastic on the ground nearby and place the stretched vine on the plastic. This protects turfgrass from damage caused by the herbicide.

    Spray the foliage of the Virginia creeper with glyphosate-containing herbicide. Each type of herbicide has application instructions that you must follow for best results. For example, concentrated herbicides containing glyphosate usually requires diluting at a rate of 1 to 2 ounces of the herbicide with 1/2 gallon of water before use. Leave the plant undisturbed for 48 hours after applying the herbicide.

    Cut the Virginia creeper at soil level with a pair of pruning shears. Dispose of the Virginia creeper in a plastic garbage bag.

    Dip a clean paintbrush in concentrated glyphosate herbicide. Paint the cut stem of the Virginia creeper with the herbicide immediately after cutting the unwanted vine. Take care not to drip the herbicide on desirable plants.

    Check the area regularly for signs of new growth. Cut new growth at soil level and immediately apply the herbicide with a paintbrush to the cut stump.
    Things You Will Need

    Chemical-resistant rubber gloves
    Safety glasses
    Glyphosate-containing herbicide
    Pruning shears
    Garbage bag


    Follow the warnings and directions printed on the herbicide label.


    Missouri Botanical Garden: Parthenocissus Quinquefolia
    University of Florida IFAS Extension: Controlling Weedy Vines in the Landscape
    University of Florida Nassau County Extension: Pests
    United States Department of Agriculture: Virginia Creeper

    • That explains why I’ve pulled it from another area of the yard and then later had a rash, or at least I think it was that stuff. There are so many weeds and vines in that bed, no telling what’s all in there! Thanks for the info on the creeper, Denise! I will put that info to use!

  10. Your yard is looking so good and your sideway is so inviting. Weeds, seems like we have had a lot here this year probably because of all the rain we had in the Spring here in Indiana. I get poison ivy terrible too but my husband can go out and just pull it up with his hands and it doesn’t bother him at all. Amazing!!!! I normally run when he starts that. That looks like poison ivy in the pictures but around here they call that Virgina Creeper and they grow it on buildings but I dont like the look , it remonds me too much of the poison ivy. Dont work too hard and have a great Labor Day week end.

    • Thanks, Linda! I think you’re right. All the rain and me watering the grass on that side has really lit a fire under the weeds. I’ve never seen them this bad! Have a great weekend!

  11. My hubby found one of those spiders in our garden several years ago – that thing was GINORMOUS, about 3 inches at least!! He carefully tended around it for weeks and then, one day, the spider was just gone. I think he was a wee bit brokenhearted at the loss. We’ve seen some since, but none as large – certainly none that captured his fancy like that first one. πŸ™‚

  12. Oh! Do I feel your pain about the weed problem! My entire front yard is shrubs and perennials. I lost over a year working in the garden because of knee problems, and then another six months after knee replacement. All I could do was watch the weeds grow and grow… This spring vetch invaded the beds. Try as I might (still healing from surgery), I could not keep up. Then the heat hit, and all the rain. Now I have morning glories, and passion vine growing over everything, now with late summer weeds spreading underneath. I came home after a 2 week vacation to find even more. Hoping for cooler weather so I can clear the beds out! At this point I’m wondering what will save me?

  13. I love the spider, btw! That’s a sign of a healthy garden!

  14. I have the same problem. I was out digging everything out of one of my perennial beds just this morning, and I mean everything! Once the weeds get a foothold it seems like a never ending problem to keep the bed looking good. I have so many other things I would rather do with my time and I have so many garden beds! I didn’t see any solution but to start from scratch.

  15. I feel your pain! My perennial bed has those same weeds and I’ve been thinking of spraying the whole bed and starting over. Between the deer, the rain and the weeds, my perennials have definitely suffered this summer! Your yard is looking great though!!!!

    • I know you hate to do that, Debora. I had to do that with a big bed of dianthus one year that had a gazillion oak trees sprouting in. Hurts to spray perfectly good plants but sometimes there are just too many weeds. Good luck with your garden! Hopefully next year will be better.

  16. SharonFromMichigan says

    Seems like the spiders are plentiful everywhere this year. I have a lot of them in my butterfly bushes and all of the shrubs too. Good thing they are the gardener’s helper. We have a vine weed called nightshade. It has small purple flowers with a red berry. It’s toxic to humans, animals, pretty much everything and it’s nearly impossible to irradicate. I’d rather pay someone to get the toxic stuff out than mess with it myself. Have a great holiday weekend. – Sharon

  17. Nancy B of Lake Stevens says

    Susan, painting on herbicide on the cut main stem works really, really well. We have uber invasive wild blackberries and this is how we got rid of them. Knocks em dead. Good luck. You do have an amazing amount of energy. I hope to have the same amount in my next life πŸ™‚ Have a great weekend.

  18. Oh, I forgot to tell about what Granny Godwin used to say: “leaves of 3 let it be”. That would be poison ivy, as the Virginia Creeper has 5 leaves. And I hate honeysuckle vines, they will wrap around and choke your flowers. Though they do smell good~~

  19. I feel your weedy pain! One thing to keep in mind once you get your beautiful garden weed free again ( and you will) is to be very, very VERY selective about what you use as fertilizer. Many manures, if not most, will have them. Composting will sometimes take care of that, but the average home-owners compost pile is too small to get hot enough.

  20. Hi Susan! We had a gorgeous weba and spider outside of our living room window in California, and she looked just like yours in shape, but not color. However, my daughter and grand-daughter sent her to spider heaven. They were afraid of being bitten by her or the other spider that had moved in with her to make a family! I’ll put a picture on your Facebook. Love your blogs. So much inspiration! πŸ™‚

  21. Chamberbitter!! I’m glad to know the name of that obnoxious weed! The first time I ever saw one in my perrenial bed, I thought it was a young mimosa tree, so I left it alone! I had never noticed the seeds under the leaves, so that’s probably why they seem to multiply more and more every year! Thanks so much for the tip! Also, I’m right there with you in combatting those vines.

  22. Today in the mail I received my Fish Foam! A whole carton of the stuff, so you know what Labor Day weekend is going to happen at my house! Can’t wait for my big helper to get home from the office to show him how we are going to celebrate this years weekend! I can’t wait for my windows to,sparkly and shine!!

  23. Rattlebridge Farm says

    I smiled when I read your witty title–weeden. πŸ™‚ My gardening know-how is zero (my weeds are flourishing; flowers are getting scorched by the recent heat blast), so I am looking forward to seeing your plan. I have bought a LOT of Round-Up this summer (sometimes it took 2 applications–and on itty weeds), and my DH sprays with preemergent.
    I’ve been impressed with the preemergent. We have poison ivy/oak all over–even in the trees. I am highly allergic, too. Thanks for the tip about the gloves! Your path garden looks WONDERFUL.

  24. I am severely allergic to all that poison stuff, always have been. Since I was diagnosed with RA, I know my immune system weirds out at times so I don’t risk pulling it anymore…the hubs does. If I even see it in the yard I head for the house until it’s cleaned out. While I was pregnant, my Dad pulled it out of a fence row as I was picking strawberries and conditions must have be right cause it traveled through the air and got on me. A few weeks after, neighbors were burning it out of their fence rows and boom, all over me! Not fun, so now I run.

    Although some people are concerned about being bitten by the black and yellow garden spider, these large spiders are not considered dangerous. They may bite when harassed, but apparently the venom does not cause problems for humans.

  25. Marilyn in Mt. Vernon, VA says

    Virginia Creeper is very bad news, as Denise (above) describes. It’s literally choking the life out of trees here in Northern Virginia along the beautiful George Washington Parkway, which runs parallel to the Potomac River. If you see it, try to get rid of it before it advances up your trees.

  26. Linda Totten says

    I have those gloves and they are wonderful.. Just throw them in the wash ever so often.. They stay supple and they are very tough. Your yard is looking wonderful.

  27. I have Virginia creeper too, but it doesn’t go as rampant here in Michigan. Preen did a pretty good job in our garden this year except for some grassy invaders from the hundreds of acres of prairie behind us and some prostrate spurge. The spurge is a weedy looking ground cover that isn’t too bad to pull out.

    My big problem is rabbits. They ate my peonies. It’s Bunny Wars time at our house! Here’s a link to my blog post about the spurge and Preen results.

  28. As a fellow sufferer of Poison Ivy, let me pass on a few tips.
    1. Coat yourself with IvyBlock first. When you are done, wash with Technu Wash.
    2. Clean all your tools, wash your clothes and sneakers etc in hot water to kill the oil-which is what causes it in the first place.
    Last but not least, the homeopathic remedy Anacardium Orientale is a miracle, and shower in HOT water! It may make your skin tingle, but it will make the skin cells release their histamine, thus giving you almost 8 hrs of itch relief. Good Luck

  29. Hi! I’ve just subscribed to your site this week, so I don’t know what part of the country yet that you live in. Here in coastal South Carolina, we get those exact spiders — here they are called Banana Spiders, and they can grow to a gargantuan size! We see them every August. Funny that even though they are the HUGEST spiders, they are too pretty to be scary. And I am freaked out by the smallest of spiders! Their webs can be enormous works of art. Oddly, after 5 or 6 weeks, we don’t see them anymore till the following August. And boy, that Virginia Creeper is a pain….my backyard is a forest, and I spend most of the year fighting that vine! By now, the heat and humidity is so intense that the vine is winning the war. Oh well, fall will come, and I will get back to battle! Looking forward to reading your posts — looks like a lovely site!

  30. Peggy Thal says

    Weeds, weeds , and more weeds. Where do they come from. The more I pull the faster they grow. Bugging me to death. The vines are the sneaky ones . Wrapping around and hiding in between the beautiful plants. It has been a tough year with all the rain. I go out everyday and pull a few more here and there , trying to get the roots out. I will get them all one way or the other-spray. Everyone I know has the same problem. Saw a beautiful praying mantis today, tree frogs and all the humming birds. They made me happy again. Hope you have a wonderful Labor Day week end. I’m hitting the pool tomorrow, after I net a few frogs who think the pool is there’s.

  31. Enjoying your site. Great hints on this one today. I finally know the name for the weed portrayed here now-chamberbitter. This was the worse year for it for me in coastal SC in 10 yrs. in both lawn and garden, also poa annua and nutsedge in my centipede lawn. Will head to Walmart to get those gloves. Hope they have them. You might have created a run on them. I’m a manic in the garden too. My youngest son had given me a headlamp so I can do a lot at night and avoid the sun and worst heat during the day. Keep up your beautiful work though it is never ending.

    • Oh my gosh, Jan…I love that you garden after dark. You obviously love gardening and I totally get it! πŸ™‚ I remember years ago planting and it was getting dark and I had a flashlight out there so I could finish. I needed a headlamp! The only thing is those GIANT cockroaches that come out at night in the south. Do you ever run into anything like that? Hope you can find the gloves!

  32. Hi Susan. When I lived in Georgia, we had the same problem with one of our beds. We also had chamberbitter. Didn’t know the name then, but it was my nemesis…I hated that stuff. Love the spider pic. You certainly grow them big in the South πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the tip on the gloves. I will try to find them this weekend.

    Have a great Labor Day weekend!

  33. Love your site. My nemesis is ground ivy. But it is NOTHING compared to the bamboo my friend is fighting that moved in from her neighbor’s yard. She had to call in a trencher and she’ll put in a barrier about four feet down, then she plans to put down black plastic for awhile. If there are little sprouts after that, they are supposed to be easier to pop out. That’s according to a specialist from New York. She lives in the Midwest.

  34. Your yard is gorgeous! I feel your pain with invasive weeds, however. I’ve had success with weed barrier material. Cover your weedy area completely and leave it on for the recommended period of time (varies by area). Once you remove the cover, the weeds are completely gone, having been suffocated right down to their roots. Can’t hurt to put a few spritzes of Roundup in before you place the cover. You can mulch over the weed cover while it’s doing its thing so it doesn’t take away from the rest of your beautiful yard.

  35. Hi! Really enjoyed this post. I am dealing with the exact same situation! I have a flower bed that I dug and planted with perennials years ago – the last few years I’ve been unable to garden due to a bad hip, and the weeds absolutely took over. I now have a new hip and have attempted to dig out weeds, but it’s a lost cause. This fall I am going to dig everything up, save what plants I can and pot them for over the winter, and layer the bed lasagna-gardening style. Hopefully come spring I’ll have a nice, clean bed to start over! Good luck with yours!

    • Diane, that sounds like a great idea! I’m tempted to do the same. Fall is supposed to be the perfect time for planting perennials here but your way sounds like a good way to get rid of the weeds.

  36. Down here in Mobile, AL we call those Gigantor spiders ‘Banana Spiders’. Have no idea why other than maybe they love to web on banana trees? I have never been bitten but the webs and possibility of spider legs touching me have turned me into a judo/karate/gymnastic ninja. Really. Awkward. Very uncool and noticeably spastic.

    Just thought I’d share a small slice of my world.

  37. I actually got excited when I saw your spider ( and believe me when I tell you I am not a spider lover), but every year I look for these to come out. I did not know the correct name, but my husband has always called them Japanese writing spiders(I guess because of their beautiful web), and when we start seeing them, we know that fall is just around the corner. I actually think they are beautiful, so big and striking. I did not know if they could harm you or not, because I am content to look from a distance:) Your comments about chamberbitter were helpful too; like one of the previous comments, I thought it was a young mimosa tree, and it has almost taken over my flower beds! BTW, I live in North Alabama so I have a lot of the same outdoor conditions you do. Thanks for great posts; I always look forward to them, especially Tablescape Thursday.

  38. Hi Susan,
    Love your posts, they are so creative and informative. It really is a small world, I just discovered this weekend a spider like yours in one of my shrub beds. I knew it was a “good” spider, mine is huge (at least 3 inches or more).
    I am leaving it to continue it’s beneficial work.

  39. Janet Mills says

    FYI- The spider is called the “Golden Orb Spider” or “Golden Orb Weaver Spider” . Google it. It’s very interesting. The little “zipper” in the web is unique to that spider, and I gather they don’t really know its purpose. There are other orb-weaver spiders- I’ve had rust-colored ones in my garden lately. Last week, one had caught a huge butterfly (moth?) in her web. The webs are super-sticky, and I read that they’re working at making synthetic silk from the web, and that it’s also an extremely strong material.
    Anyway- with the correct name you can go and get more info. Hope it helps!
    So enjoy reading about your garden efforts.

  40. Susan,
    Yes, I do think it looks like the black/yellow garden spider! I looked up the Latin name of that one, vs. that of the golden orb-weaver. Not the same in Latin, either! πŸ™‚ I stand corrected! I don’t get very involved with spiders as a rule! lol (Like snakes, I know they’re mostly beneficial in a garden, but I don’t want anything to do with them!) Anyway- Your links were great. Better pics than the ones I had found for the Golden Orb, hence my error. (Could it be that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be?? Noooooooo)
    I felt very sorry for the butterfly (or moth- couldn’t tell, as its antennae were gone). It had gotten trapped and in trying to free itself from the sticky web, it broke large chunks off its wings. I was fascinated, watching the spider weave more web around it, then raise it, pulling it up toward the guttering. This was around 6pm, and by the next morning, there was no sign of the poor thing. Guess she raised it to wherever she intended to take it.
    Thanks for taking time to enlighten me on the Black and Yellow. Still don’t know the name of mine, the rust-colored one, with a big round belly, like a cranberry. Happy gardening.

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