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New house, new garden, how to de-weed and de-plant borders please??

HI All

We have just spent a couple of weeks digging out lots of horrible brick walls and crazy paving in our new house.  The front and the back had so many plants, thorny bushes, tonnes of rose bushes (not our cup of tea at all) and awful weeds growing all over that we basically levelled everything with a strimmer and we have tried to dig up as much as poss but it is an impossible task.  We really need a quicker fix as I have just had a back operation and cannot be digging for hours, we need to know what we can use on the soil to kill off the roots of all the plants and weeds this year, ready to be turfed over and some new plants planted next spring. 

People where I walk my pup have mentioned using plain old bleach to me, someone else said caustic soda and another said diesel, whatever it is it has to be a cheap and cheerful solution and I have to be able to re-plant stuff next year.

If you can give me any advice that would be super, thanks in advance peeps.



  • sotongeoffsotongeoff Posts: 9,802

    Forget about bleach or any other other other things you mentioned-they probably would work but ruin the soil as well-so do not use

    f you want to kill off weeds without the digging option then you are going to have to use a glyphosate based weedkiller spray like Roundup that works through the leaves and kills the roots are well-and comes inactive on contact with the soil.


  • PalaisglidePalaisglide Posts: 3,414

    First of all I am afraid there is no quick fix, the people talking about bleach diesel and soda are talking about drilling the old stumps pouring the stuff into the holes then covering and leaving for a long time, I have a stump four years old and only now is it breaking up.
    Second you do not want to be contaminating the ground where you will plant new plants and all those things will do that.
    It depends on how old thick and heavy the old stumps are, there are people who will grind them out for you or you can hire a machine to dig them out, or get some one in to clear the ground for you, none cheap but you only need do it once.
    So what is left, cover the ground between the stumps with heavy membrane covered with gravel, cut holes in it where you are putting a plant and let it grow on the membrane taking care of the weeds. You could then plant up pots and containers to put on the gravel until you are either fitter or the cover has been down long enough to kill off most weeds it will not kill all.
    There are many other ways all include covering the ground for a while, some use old carpet or heavy mulch both take the ground out of use for a while.
    Starting as you are doing is hard work and if there was an easy way there would be many more gardeners, it may come down to getting a local person in to sort it out so you can then progress.
    Good luck,


  • Have you thought about hiring a mini-digger for a weekend?  I believe you can hire them from places like homebase (might not be the cheapest), and get some friends over for a 'digging party'?  Everyone turns up in scruffs, you provide as much tea and bacon butties as they can scoff, everyone pitches in and takes out the roots, bricks, and other stuff you don't want in the garden.  See if a friend has a van or a large estate car and ask them to do a few 'tip runs' for you - check with your local council first, some councils won't let vans into their recycling sites (Rotherham won't, but Sheffield and Chesterfield will, so our friends with a van take their garden rubbish to one of those).  At the same time, see if they will swing by a stables and pickup some manure (you may have to offer to have their car valeted afterwards to remove any fragrance left behind)!

    Lots of folk will say no if they think it involves digging with a spade, put a mini-digger into the equation and you will be beating them off with a stick.  Inside every grown man is a little boy with a little boy's love of diggers!  Add bacon butties and builder's tea, and I'd be there!

  • We did something similar with a mini digger. It was good fun although I'm not a natural and I was concerned the boys would dig up something they shouldn't! All went well though. You'll need a skip on site too for what you pull up so cost does add up.

    Other option depending on how much there is, is wait til the spring and spray the lot with round up. Wait about a month and plants should turn to dust...
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  • How about advertising a "come and take a plant" in your area. If I saw a sign near me I'd be delighted to go in an dig up anything I fancied. At least then you can feel less bad about killing the rest.
  • HI all

    Thanks for the great replies, I am thinking that i will spend a few quid and get myself a good weedkiller then and do a couple of applications, would you all agree that roundup would be the best to use or has anyone used anything similar that may be cheaper?  The plot size off the top of my head is approx 2m x 8m for the small border in the back garden which needs killing and the front garden is approx 6m x 6m but I may still go the bleach route (for cheapness) in the front as we may just be paving or cementing over this, I am not working right now so it all boils down to cash.

    As far as the plots go, when we moved in a few months back we saw which plants were growing and there was nothing appealing, it was prodiminantly Ivy which was everywhere and a real b*gger to get rid of, there were some flowers but nothing even slightly appealing, there must have been 15 yellow rose bushes!  Also there were lots of thorny bushes and these had to come out as my basset hound pup was chewing them.

    If you guys could reply regarding which weedkiller you would suggest for the back then that would be smashing, thanks!  Also can I ask would weedkiller also kill unwanted plants too if their roots were still there? I do actually want to do this as there will still be ivy, rose and bramble bush roots pretty deep underground.

  • Anything that has glyphosate as the active ingredient should be OK, BUT it only works when the plant is actively growing, if you're in the south you should still be OK (just), but if elsewhere you will need to wait until spring to use it.  Roundup is OK, I tend to buy the sachets of extra-strong glyphosate from ebay, each sachet makes up one litre, you can get a two-litre sprayer that's re-usable from Amazon for about 8 quid.

    You have to spray the leaves of the unwanted plant, so if there are roots around with no leaves, you would have to wait until the thing sprouted up and then squirt it.  It will work but it will take repeated applications for things like brambles, eventually the plant will be so weak, it won't have the energy to re-grow.  Unless you are in the far south you will be wasting money, as up here in Yorkshire things are starting to die back, and it won't be long before we have the first frost of the Autumn.

    My advice would be to dig up as much as you can manage now, bit by bit, and then start with the weedkiller once things start to shoot up in the spring.  You may want to wait a bit before investing in any plants, especially bedding plants, as you don't want them to have to compete with the weeds.  I hate Ivy, but I hate brambles more, as at least Ivy doesn't have thorns!

    If you're like me and really strapped for cash, wait until your  missus has finished with a bottle of cleaner (the one with the trigger-type spray, somthing like dettol or kitchen cleaner), rinse it out really, really well, get an empty two-litre bottle, rinse, get two sachets of Glyphosate from ebay (costs about £4), and make up the two-litre bottle.  You'll have to keep re-filling the squirty trigger bottle, but for £4 and a bit of faffing and re-cycling you have a powerful weedkiller that's as good as anything branded.  The weed has to be GROWING or it won't work, you'll just be chucking money away.

    Typical Yorkshirewoman, short arms, deep pocketsimage

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