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Overgrown garden ... where to start?!

We’ve just moved into a new house, and as well as needing a complete renovation inside the garden is in dire straits. 

We’re in it for the long haul, but not sure where to start ... here are just a few of the issues:

- lawn COVERED in moss
- lords & ladies seemingly under every shrub
- numerous hazel which appear to have been coppiced a long time ago
- brambles, ground elder & sticky willies
- a bank down the side of the house covered in ivy, which is climbing up the fence & spreading into a beech hedge
- a 3m thick boundary which would have been a beech hedge at one time, the hedge was obviously left to get out of hand for decades, and was then cut down.  The remaining trunks are about 5 foot high and COVERED in ivy, mature enough to have grown into enormous shrubs complete with berries & flowers etc, the ivy trunks as big as my legs
- bits of laurel in the hedges

In a perfect world we’d clear the boundary & replant the beech (we’re in a conservation area, and there as loads of lovely beech hedges around) but that seems like a lifetime away.

We’re happy to hang on a bit and see what emerges from the undergrowth, but really if it’s all riddled with ground elder & lords and ladies is it worth it?

What should we do first?


  • FireFire Posts: 18,019
    It looks amazing.
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Posts: 11,942
    Slowly,  I think is the answer!  It looks like you might find some treasures amongst that lot. If you have children or pets I would dig up/kill off the lords & ladies or at least carefully dispose of all the red berries, using gloves. Then I would suggest you start gradually clearing/tidying the area near to the house and work your way down to the end. Get rid of anything that annoys you the most to start with. You don't have to do everything at once. You have what most people would consider could be a beautiful garden there so good luck - keep us posted on progress please.
    North East Somerset - Clay soil over limestone
  • Thank you both. 

    I think you’re right about the lords & ladies - our children are 2 & 4, and have never really had much of a garden before. Top annoyance is the huge ivy shrubs, but I think we’ll wait until after birds have finished nesting to have a go at them - even just to stop them flowering & making seed again if nothing else!
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    I'd want to do something about those two rectangular beds in the middle of the lawn. What were the previous owners thinking - they look like a couple of burial plots!

    But nice house and lots of potential for the garden ...
  • I'd want to do something about those two rectangular beds in the middle of the lawn. What were the previous owners thinking - they look like a couple of burial plots!

    But nice house and lots of potential for the garden ...
    Ha, they are a bit odd. They have some particularly straggly roses in them, I think there may have been a pergola at one time but not sure that’s an excuse!
  • FireFire Posts: 18,019
    Have as much patience as you can muster and as much fun.
  • Mark56Mark56 Posts: 1,653
    It's not half as bad as I had expected when the pictures loaded :) It has tons of potential, I agree with the bed shape, figure out your desired layout first - wait to see what appears perennial & bulb wise in Spring. We can help with Identifying plants
  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700
    The 'bones' of this garden was once very well tended to. The mature shrubs set the tone and in my opinion not at all overgrown. In fact, too manicured for my style. Any garden of that size without being tended to for 8 months to a year will see growth of all sorts. If the boundaries of the garden are your priority, you should set about tackling those areas.

    The plants you list are common problems faced by many gardeners when tending to their gardens on a yearly basis, because they are persistent plants. As for the two strips cut into the lawn, let's not forget, many of the royal gardens still have classic rose borders in regimented rectangular borders. Perhaps the previous owners were inspired by classic rose beds. I think that area needs breaking up and the island beds could be re-cut and made much larger to create height and interest.

  • hogweedhogweed Posts: 4,053
    I would fill in these beds in the middle of the grass. Deal with the brambles and ground else over the space of the next few years. Persistance is all with these weeds. If the boundaries are secure at the moment, then just leave them. The shrubs don't look too bad at all. It's just a case of waiting for a full year to see what comes up. 

    You may want to have a go at revitalising the grass. It looks to be quite a big area and I don't know how much time you have spare. You could get someone in to put moss killer down and then scarify and reseed it or you could tackle it yourself or you could just put a weed and feed down and keep it well mown for a year to see if it looks any better. 

    Really my main advice is just to deal with immediate stuff, like the weeds, and take the rest slowly until you get a real feel for the garden. 
    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Thank you.  I think waiting & seeing is good advice.  The boundary is swallowing up so much garden at the moment, but we’ll hang on until a bit later in the year to tackle it. 

    I like the idea of just clearing out those beds and filling them in, at the same time as having a bit of a go at the lawn. In answer to you @hogweed, we don’t have that much time but we’re quite up for it! I think a good rake and weed and feed is a good call.  I’ve been over the front lawn this morning which is marginally better, so will probably do the same there.

    I’ll certainly be back for plant identification!! 
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