Clearing a garden

Hi All, First post here so please be gentle.

We have recently bought a new home everything is perfect for us except for the garden, the only was I can describe the garden is that it is a garden that would suit someone who loves gardening, that is not us.

I have come up with a plan to strip bare the entire garden area of all life, and lay turf, we are in no rush to complete this and we will be doing as much as possible at weekends.


My plan is...


Strip the garden of ALL plant life.

Remove all the stones

Remove the existing turf

Turn oven and remove as many roots and weeds as possible (twice)

Rack over and level off

Lay some top soil, level off again and firm up a little

Feed the topsoil and lay new turf

Here is a pic of the garden

 I have power washed the flags and they have come up well, they are all well seated and just need re-pointing.

I also plan to either make some raised sleeper beds alone the edge of the lawn/patio.


Have I missed anything? Do you think this will be achievable by a non gardener ( I do not mind hard work)

Any advice hints and tips?


Thanks for looking.



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,227

    I couldn't possibly recommend removing ALL plant life, but each to his own. It is, after all, your garden.

    What you suggest is perfectly achievable, but as my dear late mother would have said " act in haste: repent at leisure" 

    Why not let the summer get under way and see if any of those plants are to your liking and perhaps save some ?

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,057

    I agree, with the exception of that browned off conifer.

    If you remove the tree back right it will be a while before you have that height again. When was the photo taken?

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,111

    I think you will end up with a slab of grass that still has to be mown  (unless you put down astroturf) and some awful fence panels.

    I would mow the lawn as is, and replace any shrubs or trees that you dont like with something you do like. Most shrubs respond to once a year maintenance and look a lot better than bare fence panels.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • MrToastMrToast Posts: 169

    The photo was taken awhile ago, that pic was taken from the estate agents site, the garden is more over grown now.

    the tree will be staying.

  • This is a joke, right? 

  • MrToastMrToast Posts: 169

    Here are a couple of photos I just took






  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,057

    Glad about the tree, go gently. real gardening isn't demolition and replant. Some of the shrubs will need pruning and rejuvenating. I'm glad to hear the oic isn't now, I thought the leafless ones might be deadimage

    If you post some pics so we can ID the shrubs someone will tell you the best way to deal with them.

    It looks like a nice garden to play with. I look forward to seeing how you get on

  • MrToastMrToast Posts: 169

    Thanks, we are a young family with 3 young children and want to maximise the space in the garden.

    I will get out over the weekend and take some more pics.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 11,111

    I'd remove the tall conifer with all the brown patches, but other than that, it looks fairly low maintenance to me.

    It's not a mess, it's a nature reserve.
  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge Posts: 2,397

    You could ask your neighbours if they want any of the plants, Mr Toast, if you are not planning on keeping them.

    I acquired a lot of my plants that way, is allimage

  • hogweedhogweed Central ScotlandPosts: 2,513

    It looks quite a charming garden and just in need of a little bit of maintenance. It will look terribly bare with just grass. I would have no compunction in getting rid of that brown conifer and that grassy hump at the middle of the top bit. The lawn would look a lot better if it was edged properly.

    However, back to your plan. I don't think you will need to put more topsoil on. Dug, levelled, raked and turfed would be the way to go. The gravel will be a bummer to lift unless it's on a membrane...............

    'Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement' - Helen Keller
  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,227

    just think of the education having a well stocked garden will be to your young children. Watching the development through the seasons and wildlife it'll attract. You have help them identify birds and bugs etc, More so than a football pitch can ever do.

  • MrToastMrToast Posts: 169

    The gravel is on membrane. I do not just want a square patch of grass with bland fence panels, I do want to add some raised borders ect. The garden in its current state is just not our pup of tea.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 14,227

    keep us posted Mr Toast.

  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 11,924

    MrToast, you may not get the answer you want here. This forum is filled with people who love gardens and gardening. You, yourself, said that the garden would suit someone who loves gardening. We love gardening and you are asking our advice on how to dig it all up.image

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    Can't believe I'm reading this, Mr. Toast. What you are planning is sacrilege, sorry!image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,865

    Well, it's Mr Toast's garden and he wants to put his mark on it and has asked for advice - my advice is to do it bit at a time - divide the garden into small areas and decide how you want each area to look then tackle them one at a time.  

    Doing the whole job at once would undoubtedly result in loads of mud whenever it rained, and with a family about that would get carted indoors and would cause loadsa stress.image

    While you're working on one area give the children free rein to play in the rest of the garden - my children would be building camps behind some of those shrubs, son would have been playing cowboys, leaping out on us from behind a bush and daughter would've been in a Fairy Dell, wearing an old bridesmaid dress and having a fairies' picnic with her toys.  (Quite gender stereotypical my two, until daughter learnt how to climb trees then she turned into a tomboy image)

    Then, bit by bit you'll have worked around the garden, changing the borders and making raised beds and a place for a climbing frame and a sitting out area etc until it's as you want it - then you can lay a new lawn and it will unite the whole garden - doing the lawn last will mean it doesn't get messed up by all the other work you're planning to do.

    When you turf a lawn you have to keep off it for quite some weeks, even little people's feet will damage it and you'll have to do it all again - so the longer you can manage with that lawn while they're growing a little older, the better it will be for everyone's stress levels. 

    Some of the plants you've got will probably be fine where they are, they'll just need an occasional prune once a year and a bit of fertiliser.  If you can show us pics we'll tell you what they are and when and how to prune them.  If you prune shrubs at the wrong time of the year you risk losing all the flowers.  If you get it right the garden will look a picture. image

    If you show us pictures we'll also tell you which plants are past their best and might as well be scrapped, and which ones you could dig up and replant in more suitable places.  

    I hope that's helpful image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 2,094

    You say you're not in a rush so I would suggest leaving things much as they are through the summer and identify any plants you want to keep for the raised beds.  Then you will be in a much better position to make the changes and at the same time save yourself money by not having to buy so much for your new raised beds.

    I fully appreciate why the current garden doesn't suit your requirements when you have young children and need something low maintenance.

    Last year we completely gutted our garden and are starting again from scratch.  Many of the plants in our garden were very old and woody having been planted by our predecessors.

    Be aware - starting from scratch is not a cheap job.  We have spent literally hundreds of pounds on plants alone so far.  Our garden is pretty big but we are enjoying the experience.

  • yarrow2yarrow2 Posts: 701

    I'd be loathe to go about spraying weedkiller or anything if there are children getting out and about in fresh air.

  • KEFKEF Posts: 8,915

    Mr Toast, there might be some local people who would like the plants you are getting rid of, they might even come and dig them up if they can have them image  A shame to just destroy them.

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