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Help me tidy my newly acquired overgrown garden!

We have recently moved and the established garden is very overgrown to say the least.  Any ideas just to get it manageable would be appreciated.

To give you an idea, I had to inspect the downpipe and to get to it, I’ve filled 2 wheelie bins, on hacking my way through a fuchsia bush (growing up from the drain) and a yucca trying to gouge out my eyes in the process.

There is no easy access to the garden, you have to get to it through a narrow outbuilding with a couple of steps, so garden waste is carried by tub through the building to a wheelie bin outside.  

The garden (27m x 10m) has a very small lawn then gives way to 3 circular beds with a gravel/slab path doing a figure of 8 around them.

The circular beds are made out of heavy stones in a drystone wall effect (although many have tumbled) and it is harder to see because there are lots of plants growing through and beyond the rocks onto the path but there looks to be some nice shrubs within them.

There is also a low (shin level) wall to each side of the garden which is covered again with plants and shrubs encroaching over onto the path.

The path itself was once small stones with heavy slabs in the middle.  The stones have shrunk away leaving the thick slabs protruding which are easy to trip over and hard to push a wheelbarrow over.  I have given it a dose of weedkiller already but it has barely made a dent.

I wondered if it would be better to wait until winter when everything has died back then I at least can see the outline the beds.

I do have a mobile shredder and could use any shredding as a mulch to put on top of the gravel to get level with the slabs but would this encourage more weeds?

I have also found a burner hidden in the foliage but have never used one before so don’t know how to begin with that (what and when to burn, drying out first,  burning etiquette etc) but if I can use it that would save some difficult trips through the outbuilding and free up room in the bin.

I have a strimmer, leaf vacuum, cutters etc.

I would eventually like to have a wildlife pond and a vegetable bed area so I could re-lay the stones into new bed shapes (though lord knows how they got them into the garden in the first place, some are so heavy you have to roll them and there are plenty of them).

I would also like to have a wildlife pond so could potentially use one of the beds.

Every time I go out to make a start on it, I get fed up and come back in to make a cup of tea.  Please help!



  • LG_LG_ gardens in SE LondonPosts: 2,799
    It looks like it could be amazing, so I would be wary of changing anything structural at all until the winter. I do know how it feels when there's so many tasks and you can work all day and not see any difference - difficult to keep motivated!
    As Treeface says, try to do manageable chunks for the moment, and ignore the bigger picture until you can see it more clearly. Perhaps work out what needs doing more urgently (e.g. removing or reducing things you definitely don't want before they spread, or things that will disappear in winter while you can still see them to remove them - you'll think you'll remember where they are, but you won't! Or at least mark them for later). 
    Good luck - and do keep posting progress photos. I think it's going to be lovely.
    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 2,589
    It sounds as if you have a very good structure in place. Maybe mend the damaged walls and top up the gravel path to the level of the slabs, and take stock of what plants you have before any wholesale removal. There could be some treasures tucked away in there.
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 1,713
    I could not get the supplementary photos to open.

    I echo the idea of leaving things for a season to see what is in the garden that you might want to keep although I suspect not much. What is there is probably quite thuggish and has wiped out its neighbours. 

    I would take lots of photos and be sure to have marker canes or reference points so you can precisely locate the photographed plant later.

    My suggestion is to spend summer and autumn concentrating on the house. My first garden project, possibly done now, would be to establish where to build the compost bin and get on with making and filling it. Meanwhile accumulate a large pile of cardboard and come late winter/early spring cover areas you want to renovate with the cardboard piling compost on top. 

    Remember, nobody eats an elephant at one sitting.
  • Pheobe33Pheobe33 Posts: 20
    I did find a compost bin which has been swallowed by a yew bush, so can clear the area around that to start composting.

    Unfortunately the lean-to has a 90 degree bend and 2 steps, is narrow so won't accommodate a the wheelie bin. It also houses the plumbing is for the washer/dryer (more obstacles).   I didn't really want to struggle humping gravel through on a sack truck and it would take a few tonnes to get it level (unless I dug in the slabs to sink them in more) either way, murder on the back. 

    I am not sure what the spiky green plants are (the thugs) but they seem to be everywhere. 

    I love the old stones so would like to keep the original features but perhaps re-arrange them to create a pond or veg patch in future.

    There is a young acorn that is hanging over our neighbours which is best tackled in winter but is hidden in about 2 metres depth of bush.

    It just seems so over facing at the moment, every time I go out to do A it leads to B and C.

  • Mary370Mary370 Limerick, Ireland Posts: 1,843
    You should concentrate on doing one job fully before moving onto the will get there with time and patience 
  • madamvinomadamvino Posts: 1
    I totally sympathise! If you can bear it, I'd be inclined to see what comes up later in the summer and certainly how it looks in the Spring (so you can put this off for a while!)

    I've always found a 'working party' to be extremely helpful when you have so much to tackle - if you have any friends or family nearby who might be persuaded to help a little (or a lot!), you can accomplish so much more together which is incredibly encouraging! It also makes big back-challenging tasks more manageable when you have extra hands (& a lot more social).

    If you have one area you feel might be easier to tackle could you start slowly working on this? Having something to look at which makes you happy really helps to keep you going.

    Good luck! 
  • Papi JoPapi Jo Brittany, France Posts: 2,695
    Hi @Pheobe33 and welcome to our forum! I do sympathize, as I had a similar problem when I extended my garden by acquiring a chaotic part of the neighbour's "garden". I answered in another similar discussion here:
    I agree with all that has been said so far, especially with the advice to tackle things one at a time.
    As far as I can see your main problem is that you have no easy access to your garden from the street.
    I wouldn't count too much on finding "treasures" in the way of lovely plants, shrubs, etc. that you might like to keep. It's probably better to destroy everything and start with a "clean slate" to re-build something nice. Again, another problem is that the garden currently seems to be cluttered with stones and rocks, etc.
    Keep heart and keep us posted with more pics. ;)

    By the way, I don't understand why you added a number of "20200703_144449.jpg 0B " etc. links to pics that can't be visualized in your first post? :/

    You are invited to a virtual visit of my garden (in English or in French).
  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 2,589
    The spiky stuff could be crocosmia. Did it have any flowers? The common kind is a bit of a thug.
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Scariff, County Clare, IrelandPosts: 6,244
    What an exciting project!  :)

    The green spikey things, if I'm looking at the right ones, will be crocosmia I think.  Pale green leaves, not stiff spikes, but spread everywhere by seed and underground corms.  They are very likely to be the common orange one, rather than a nice cultivated variety - pretty when they flower, in late summer, but you can have too many...

    An incinerator can be useful if you've got a lot of properly dead stuff to get rid of.  You might need to find out what your local bylaws are about when you can have a bonfire, and also decide which way the wind is blowing and if any of your neighbours have washing out, or are planning a barbecue - perhaps better to consult them first...  (Here in Ireland bonfires are illegal, but many people seem to flout the rules.)

    The "bite-sized chunks" advice is good.  It's hard just to sit back and take stock, but it pays dividends in the end.  If you like the paths and the general design, I'd concentrate on revealing the "bones" of the garden first, and deciding what to do about the uneven paths.  Do you have anyone to help you?  If you have to shovel gravel from a dumpy sack one side of your lean-to into buckets, to carry it through to the garden, you'll welcome another pair of hands.   :)
    "The one who plants trees, knowing that he will never sit in their shade, has at least started to understand the meaning of life."  Rabindranath Tagore
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 6,928
    Welcome  to the forum :)
    I can understand the A leads to B leads to C comment! 
    I can really only repeat what others have said, to set yourself a realistic area to tackle at a time. Factor in tea/coffee/lunch breaks and be ruthless at just sticking to that area. Work outwards from the house so that each time you leave the back door you pass through your achievements which will spur you on. It does take time, but it is worth it in the end.
    I also suspect there aren't that many "treasures",  but you never know. If you like the look of it, keep it and come back for identification.
    Set aside an area for keeping things like paving slabs and other things you want to keep, it's easier if they're all together in one place.

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