Planting in a ravine location

(Question)

Hello. I wish to plant a honeysuckle (Lonicera periclymenum) along my backyard chain link fence which borders a ravine. I am going to clear a corner that has been taken over by ravine plants. What can I do to try to prevent these plants from encroaching on the honeysuckle? For example there is a lot of Sumac back there (among other things) and smaller sumac plants are growing in my backyard.

backyard weeds2 2016

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(Answer)

Thank you for contacting the Toronto Master Gardeners.

Sumac is a vigorous colonizer that spreads mainly by sucker (i.e. a new stem and root system that forms from a bud on the stem or root of an existing plant). The most effective way to keep them from encroaching on your Honeysuckle would be to pull out the suckers by hand.

As for weeds that spread mainly by seed, a thick (3 inches minimum) layer of organic mulch (e.g. wood chips) would be the most efficient way to prevent the existing weed seeds in the soil from germinating; any seedling that subsequently germinates on top of the mulch can be easily pulled out. Just remember to leave a bit of space between the mulch and the stems of the Honeysuckle, and to top up worn patches of mulch periodically. An added bonus is that, as the mulch decomposes, it will enrich the soil for the Honeysuckle.

With some vigilance and a bit of elbow grease you would be able to keep the weeds away from your Honeysuckle. Good luck!