Many people dream of one day owning a house with a garden. But once they find a suitable affordable property, they often find that the previous tenant has done nothing to keep the garden in good shape. In fact, many properties feature good-sized, but completely neglected gardens that require a lot of work to turn into a place that can actually be enjoyed on a warm summer’s day. If you enjoy a good project and spending time outdoors doing gardening, this could well be the perfect activity for you. Redoing a garden from scratch is a great way to shape it just the way you want it so that you can enjoy it for years to come. Of course, there are plenty of pitfalls and potential problems along the way, which we will attempt to address in the following guide.
Don’t plan on doing it all at once
Your garden will be a work in progress for quite some time, so don’t expect it to be wonderfully resurrected overnight. Decide which bits need doing and then the order of importance. Do you want a lawn first so your children can play outside? Are you hoping for a vegetable patch? Do you want to build or renovate a shed to keep stuff in? Prioritise your workload so that the most important parts of your garden are completed first.
The first step is to take stock of the garden and the plants that are already there. Telling the difference between useful or ornamental plants and weeds is crucially important, as well as identifying difficult weeds like bindweed that would require more work to get rid of. When coming to remove plants, there’s no way around digging up the roots completely. Otherwise, they will simply grow back. Avoid using any weed killers, as those are toxic and can poison the soil. Instead, use ground cover to get rid of persistent weeds. You may need to leave it there for a while to be certain they are all dead before continuing work on the garden.
If there are any dead trees in your garden, you will need to get them cut down to clear space. Many homeowners turn to a professional for help, as this can be quite a specialist job, but if you are confident in your own skill, you’ll need to ensure you’re using a quality chainsaw to chop down the tree. You can find some recommendations on the Chain Cutting website.
Control the plants you want to keep
When left unchecked, plants can go wild. But cutting them back and pruning as necessary can make them appear tidy and cheerful again. Some perennials in particular tend to spread, but you can remove some for replanting elsewhere in the garden or simply remove them completely, especially if they appear to be unhealthy. You can also shift plants around if the old arrangement doesn’t fit in with your design. While this is much easier to do with plants that have recently been planted (a year or less), it’s still doable even with older plants. The best time to do this is spring, when any damage to the roots will heal quickly. Some plants, however, are best moved in summer or even winter. Make sure you read about the specific plant you’re dealing with before making any changes. When shifting plants, make sure you get as much of the roots as possible. It’s worth noting that some plants, like roses, are difficult, if not impossible to move properly.
Create or bring back edging
Having a border between a lawn and a vegetable or flower patch makes a garden look neat. When a garden is neglected, these can become overgrown. Trim those parts down and mow the lawn and you may be amazed at what a difference that makes. Recreating such borders can be a good way of making your garden feel more welcoming as you work on each individual part. You can use ornamental rocks or simply clear away vegetation to leave a clear line between each element in your garden. If you’re planning on having decking or a paved section of the garden, this will also help protect it from weeds and other plant roots that may damage it in time.