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Just bought house with 2 acre woodland garden - Help!!!

Hi all, I am very new to the site so Hello and a Happy New Year!!  I am after all of your green fingered advice on this one.  I am a keen gardener when time permits after kids and working full time and have just bought a house with a rather over grown 2 acre woodland garden!!!   It is on an area of high water table and I will have to be careful about drainage as my septic tank soak away areas are located within this area (as are those of at least one if not two other neighbours!!).  It is rather boggy in places and has no formal lawned area, more like grass in between a multitude of raised beds!.  Wrong time of year to move in for the garden I suppose as everything has died back and looks rubbish image.

I am really not sure where to start as it has not had a lot of TLC for quite a long time as there are nettles and brambles everywhere, I have been trying to cut back where I can but without damaging any plants so that I can try and see what is there.  There are huge rhodies everywhere and the previous owners have been trying to put in bark / stone paths in several areas.  There is a veggie patch which is useful and will be kept and a great covered raised strawberry patch.  The owner has also planted several fruit trees, Christmas tree type firs and some willows presumably as the land can get so boggy.

They have left a lot of rubbish on site and at least 1000+ old plastic plant pots in an old cold frame!!! Thanks!!  Really not sure where to start!  Help!!



  • Tropical SamTropical Sam Posts: 1,488

    I would not remove anything until you work out why it is there. For example doe sa tree or shrub provide a windbreak, soak up water or provide privacy.

    Concentrating on paths sounds sensible. Being able to get through the garden without getting wet/mucky feet is a priority.

    Creating several compost heaps to collate any removed plants and weeds would be a good start.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,887

    Hello and welcome Hippyness image

    What an adventure!  And it's the perfect time to move to a new garden - you're there to watch the first little signs of spring pushing up through the tangled mess and you'll begin to fall in love with your garden.

    Could you post some photos for us so that we have a better idea of your options image

    To post photos on here you need to click on the green tree icon at the top of where you type your post and follow the instructions - I don't think it works from phones yet.

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • LynLyn Posts: 23,052

    I think it only doesnt work from iphones, mine is LG and that works.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Hasten slowly! If you are lucky there could be all sorts of things hiding under the surface waiting for the right moment to show their faces. I would agree with Blairs about the paths and wait and see, though if they really are Norway spruce type Christmas trees I would think very hard about whether I really wanted a full grown one where they are planted. They grow to great heights and kill off everything underneath; willows can get to quite a size too,but you could always coppice or pollard them and then take up basket making!

    The good thing about a woodland garden is that it can cope with a bit of untidiness (call it the natural look!) while you are getting to grips with it.  Once you know what trees and plants you've got  you can decide whether they stay or come out and then get on to the fun bit of planting plans and plant or seed buying.

  • treehugger80treehugger80 Posts: 1,923

    lucky you!

    i'd wait as long as you can before you do and planting or digging up/felling. some interesting stuff might pop up.

    i'd also focus on pathways, clearing rubbish off site and removing anything that looks dead or dangerous (and leaving it in a pile for the wildlife). Leave the rest until the autumn, but make sure you keep notes of things you want removing/keeping or moving!

  • Hi,

    There, how exciting!!!, I moved into our current 1 acre 4 years ago in December, my advice, is not to clear everything out or cut all back, I would wait until next October to have the big clear out, because plants look at their worst in winter, and in my own experience, something that I thought had to go initially, proved to be part of the structure of the garden and were nice to keep since they earned themselves to be there!!

    Also work out, your soil type, sun positions and any exposed and or sheltered spots, this would come handy and save money on replacement plants, and or big garden schemesimage

    Also watch what the neighbours are growing and what seems to be thriving in your area, or anything you like, I spotted a lovely Cardoon plant on the walk to the swing park!!

    Have fun and learn to propagate plants (much more fun and more rewarding), get a cheapi green house, and do a natural mound compost heap for all that composting rubbish, it would come handy in two years time when you need to raise bed, and or mulch etc.  Nothing special just a mound or a heap in one hidden corner where you dump all your clearing and pruning.



  • EsspeeEsspee Posts: 274

    Most of us would agree that doing the minimum possible in the first year until you know exactly what you have is the best plan.  I would be tempted to take semi hardwood cuttings of all the shrubs and rhodies you like (use all those free pots and the cold frame) as you may want to cut back the jungle and it would be a shame to lose any varieties.  You could also pot up everything that appears where you know you don't want it (e.g. where you intend to put up a greenhouse).  It would be easy to get discouraged so don't overdo things.  Good luck. 

  • Thank you soooo much all for all of your great advice - I will definitely lightly tidy and leave well alone this year to see what 'pops up' this year etc etc.  Will keep you informed and try and attach piccies if I can master it lol -  watch this space!! 

  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,261

    Sounds like my dream garden, Hippyness!  You may find the rough grassed area has been planted with wild flowers and/or bulbs, which could be really pretty, as well as easier to look after than a conventional lawn.  Really looking forward to those photos...  image  Good luck!

    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • GWRSGWRS Posts: 8,399

    I would take some pictures as you see things that pop up , just in case you forget where things are and make a plan of the grounds using graph paper ie. little squares it is then easy to plot where things are , soil type , trees , boggy bits ect.

    Sounds really exciting , everything else has been said , best of luck image

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