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Too many roots to dig

I'm a very new gardner. Tried to dig and weed a bed at the back of my small garden today. I couldn't dig more than a few inches because of so many small roots. There's a huge tangled network that refused to be pulled! Not sure if it's ivy from the fence or roots from next door's oak tree. Any advice? It's quite a shady spot.
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  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,651
    This is a difficult one @hevans716.he , l strongly suspect the roots from the oak and possibly the ivy have just knitted together and it would make it extremely difficult to get a fork or spade through as they extract all the moisture.  Are there any existing garden plants in the bed, and if so do you know what they are ? If not,  you can post a photo and we'll have a go at an id.
    It may well be that you'll have to maybe have a new bed elsewhere. 

  • Thank you AnniD. It's taken me awhile to work out how to upload an image! There are 3 hydrangeas, some daffodils and an evergreen shrub that was donated by a friend and fairly recently put in. (I can't remember what it is!).   Should I give up on the bed? What about weeds?!
  • herbaceousherbaceous E. BerksPosts: 2,278
    When I had snowberry and ivy root issues I was advised by the lovely people here to get a mattock @Gallopinghamster - I love it! One flat end, one blade end and off I go, from an aggression perspective it's better than making bread  :)
    "The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."  Sir Terry Pratchett
  • Ha ha! Yes, a mattock would definitely chop up those stringy roots! But not sure my frozen shoulder would be very happy! Should I put bark or something down to stop weeds? 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,651
    To be honest that doesn't look as bad as l was expecting!  The shrub in the middle is an euonymus l think. If you can't get through the roots and a mattock's out of the question, l would think bark would look good and supress the weeds. I can't see many weeds as such so if it's only the roots you're having problems with, a bark mulch would look nice. The hydrangeas will give you some colour later this year, l'd suggest giving them a feed (my mother in law swears by seaweed feed for hers).  
  • Thank you @AnniD! I will try that. The hydrangeas may get a new lease of life now we have pruned a very overgrown tree that was blocking a lot of light. I'm sure I'll be back on the forum with more questions soon! 
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,651
    No problem @Gallopinghamster :)
  • Mr. Vine EyeMr. Vine Eye Posts: 2,069
    edited April 2019
    Mattocks are amazing. I don't know how I lived so long without one!
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 19,931
    Thank you @AnniD! I will try that. The hydrangeas may get a new lease of life now we have pruned a very overgrown tree that was blocking a lot of light. I'm sure I'll be back on the forum with more questions soon! 
    The hydrangeas won’t do well there if you leave both, they need to be planted 6’ apart. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • StevedaylillyStevedaylilly Posts: 1,087
    Same here, my mattock has got me out of a lot of problems with tree and shrub roots aswellas breaking up hard clay soil prior to applying any soil conditioner 
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