How to revive a patch marshy backyard and how to kill English ivy
I recently rented a townhouse, the landscaping situation is horrible, my question is how does one revive a patchy boggy backyard without resorting to concrete? Secondly the front yard is completely covered by english ivy which I frankly detest as a plant; what is the most efficient way of killing english ivy.
You will have to make some landscaping decisions, grass versus landscaped beds. Look at the site sun versus shade, drainage, etc. It may be easiest to reduce your lawn area - less mowing, maintenance, fertilizers, etc. Take a look at our website http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/reduce-lawn-area
Look at lawn alternatives and groundcovers for some ideas. http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/earth-friendly/alternatives-lawn
English ivy - In the spring you can pull, prune out or even mow all the vines down to the soil surface, so there are no mature leaves left and you've removed as much vine as you can. This will not kill the vine because its roots store lots of energy with which to grow new leaves. However, the roots will have to use up that energy to start new leaves. (You can also physically pull or dig up root, of course.)
At this point, you can smother the vines by covering them with several layers of newspapers, overlapping, (or cardboard) and then piling on at least 2 inches of mulch. They must not get any sunlight. It will take about a year to kill them, so if you see any tendrils creeping out, remove them. Do not allow ANY leaves to grow--they will just add energy to the roots and undo everything you've done so far.
To achieve better control to kill the roots (and vines), add another step. After you have removed all the top growth you can, and the new leaves are starting to grow, the tender new growth will not have the waxy coating that mature leaves have that repels herbicides. (Young leaves are more susceptible to herbicides.) At this time you can spray them with triclopyr. Follow directions and temperatures for control. Then smother the vines with mulch as also described above. See our website for more information http://extension.umd.edu/hgic/problems/invasive-vine-groundcover-control