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Overgrown garden

Dear gardeners, 

We have just acquired a property and the garden hasn't been looked after for a while and the weeds have taken over. We don't have any gardening experience but would like to tackle this ourselves as we think it is a nice project and also because we cannot afford a professional. We would like to get rid of the weeds, and have a lawn from the patio to the back. We would like to keep the trees and the mature plants. We are hoping you could help us with the following questions:

1) What tools do you think we should buy (or rent)?
2) What are the steps we need to take and in what order?
3) Is there anything we can do now (pre-winter)? 
4) What pesticides do you recommend, if any? 

We have attached some pictures to give you an idea of how it looks today. 

Many thanks in advance for all your advice!! 

Kind regards,



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 26,598
    At this time of year, I'd just wait for the deciduous stuff to die down and have a clear up of " rubbish " Don't go mad now, as you don't know if there are any spring bulbs under there. 

    Clear off the paving,and cut the grass and it'll look a million times better.

    Please avoid all pesticides at all costs. Start as you mean to go on. Pesticides kill beneficial insects too ( despite what the packaging might say )
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,248
    edited October 2018
    I would love to be let loose on that garden!
    As for tools I would say fork,spade,secateurs,loppers,shears,rake and a lot of time and muscle!
    I think a general tidy up,clear paths,patio etc would be fairly easy and probably not as bad as you would at first think and you can then see a bit better what you are working with.
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 66,268
    And at this time of year any pile of dead/dying leaves scruffy mound of grass etc could be home to a hibernating hedgehog ... so please go carefully.

    When we moved in and started work on a similar garden a few years ago my OH almost trod on a hibernating hedgehog  :o  as he was clearing some 'scrub' ... it was nearly a tragedy  :'(

    Thankfully a disaster was averted and now hedgehogs visit us every night for their cat biscuits and a drink of fresh water from their bowl on the terrace ... but this week they're snuffling around in the undergrowth looking for a cosy place to spend the winter. 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,571
    You've got the bones of a nice garden there and may well have some treasures. I would either take all the existing rubbish (old fences and general debris) to the tip, or possibly have a bonfire (on a dry day after 8 pm). Then buy some glyphosate Pathclear and spray the weeds on the paving. The 24 hr stuff should kill the weeds within a day or two. Join Freecycle and post a wanted ad for garden tools. Then buy, borrow or hire a strimmer to roughly cut the lawn and rake off the debris, either bagging it up for the tip, or starting a compost heap at the bottom of the garden. Once you've got it reasonably tidy, sit back an relax a bit and make plans over the winter for the garden you want. A few second hand gardening books would be a good idea, especially Alan Titchmarsh's "How to be a Gardener" a brilliant book for beginners.  Have fun and don't panic!
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 7,317
    I agree with the general tidy up for now, and also the avoidance of pesticides where you can. Clearing the paving and getting rid of the weeds will make a big difference. If you do decide to have a bonfire as opposed to taking it all to the tip, tip the neighbours off and most importantly, rebuild it before seting light to it as there could be hibernating hedgehog(s) in it. Welcome to the forum, by the way !  :)
    You've come to the right place.
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 2,832
    Good advice given so far. Whatever you do, please stay clear of any glyphosate product.  ;)
    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • Paul B3Paul B3 Posts: 2,912
    Wow!!!....what a project that would be for us ! Almost envious !! :)
    You appear to have an abundance of brambles ; these can be carefully (heavy gloves) removed by digging out the roots before they smother everything .
    Avoid weedkillers as they are not always as selective as they make out to be . They have a strong negative impact on wildlife .
    Good advice from all the above posts ; take your time and consider carefully whether you want a carefully manicured , or a semi-natural garden ; (the latter preferably) ;)
    Spring will be the telling time when new growth appears ; there is probably a decent selection of bulbs under there somewhere . You have a good assortment of shrubs there too , so be a bit judicious with any pruning you undertake .

    Above all , good luck and keep us informed .
  • TooeyTooey Posts: 94
    What a lovely project  :)

    Can't add much to the good advice already given but I would certainly get the paths and patio area cleared first so that you can access other parts of the garden. When you do start work on the borders etc, do a small area at a time as it can be easy to get overwhelmed by it all - I've been there and done that. 
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 6,571
    I don't use weedkillers a lot but in certain situations I believe they can be justified. That paving would take a long time to weed by hand and is a back breaking job, with no guarantee that you could dig out any tap roots from under the paving. A careful one off spray job is quite acceptable in my opinion.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 23,471
    The best advice for a new to you but established garden is to clear up obvious weeds and dead stuff but otherwise leave it mostly alon for one whole growing year so you can see what comes up as, at this time of year, there will be spring bulbs and perennials taht are hiding but waiting to pop up.

    Clear the paving and terrace of weeds and cut the grass and it will look a whole lot better.   Remove obvious weeds like brambles, nettles, thistles and take up as much of their roots as you can get out because they will regrow from scraps.   You should then be able to see the shae of beds and plants much more easily.  Take photos as you go.

    Then draw out a plan of the garden after measuring your boundaries and not the position of the sun at various times of day so you see where will be the best places for siting a seating/dining area, shade for cooling off and so on and then make a separate list of what you'd like as you progress - formal or informal, colours, perfume, textures, fruit, veggies, herbs, compost bins, potting bench, cold frames, greenhouse, pond or water feature, wildlife shelter. 

    As for tools, I really like the Wolf system.  You but individual heads as and whan you need them and then different lengthhandles for hand work or standing.  I like the double egded hoe best as I find it easier than a Dutch hoe.  You'll also need a rake, maybe the pruning saw, a cultivator head and the spring tined rake for clearing debris off lawns -   A good pair of secateurs is a must and Felco are the best and will alst for years if well cared for.  Longhandled loppers are good to have too but always by parrot or by pass and not the anvil blades.  A wheelbarrow will be handy and a trug or two.

    If you want to guarantee having spring colour, buy some packs of bulbs and plant them in pots - big enough to respect planting depths of each bulb variety - and then keep them in a sheltered spot out of the worst of the frosts.  Then, come spring, you'll have a displayto enjoy in decorative pots or, if you use ordinary plastic, you can plunge them in the borders where there are gaps.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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