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Getting rid of existing plants

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If synthetic chemicals are OK, and it is not near any wetland area of any kind (remember where the runoff goes, not just where the plants are), glyphosate (Roundup, etc.) will probably work almost as well, although it might take a few applications. 


Smothering might work, although I don't know how long those bulbs can hold out without sunlight. Anyone on here ever try and smother Hemerocallis? If it were me, I'd take a fork and try and dig out as many as possible before laying down the barrier and mulch. Usually most of them pop out in big globs, but there will undoubtedly be stragglers you don't catch.

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Backhoe is right. And then soil replacement. Absolutely true that one herbicide application won't do it. Not unless the herbicide is a persistent one that ruins the soil for ALL plant growth for X years.

In our experience, the following applies not only to dayliles but to other tenacious perennials that store a lot of energy in their roots.

We've smothered daylilies under cardboard and heavy mulch renewed by heavy newspaper and mulch as the cardboard developed breaks. Took two seasons (smothering began late summer, and 18 months later in spring we cleared the mulch to pursue the survivors.

There were survivors; always are. After loosening the soil around each live daylily shoot and lifting out it and its roots, we went ahead and planted the area with the new plants, seeking and removing daylily pieces as we went. Then we watched for more shoots that whole growing season. Bed has been clear since.

Most times we don't have so much time to spare. So when we need daylilies gone, we dig them out. It loses a lot of soil because it's nearly impossible to knock soil off the excavated root balls without having grow-able bits of dayliliy tuber break off, too, and end up in the soil. One memorable time, we dug out daylilies -- I mean we lifted every square foot of the bed -- but it was late in fall when the soil was wet. We set a bunch of the clumps on the driveway hoping to dry them some so we could break them up into smaller, less backbreaking units. Suddenly, cold weather set in a bit early. The clumps froze in place on the concrete. The next spring, having been above ground all winter in one of the coldest and most exposed winters we've had, those daylilies began to grow. The neighbors asked us, "So you've planted the driveway now, too?"

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