Needing some assistance in this big project!

Hello fellow gardeners!

I'm from Rotterdam, The Netherlands and I'm a 22 year old graphic design student with maybe a new love for gardening. 
I've recently moved into a house with 5 other students and we have this large garden wich was totally overgrown. After I got the permission of the landlord to work in the garden I started to remove all of the overgrown plants. I've searched what this plant was and it turned out to be 'Japanese Knotweed' which seemed to be very hard to get rid of. 
Anyways, at the moment I'm trying to make a plan on how to get this garden going. 
Because first I would like to make a nice grass lawn and after that I want to expand it with beddings for vegetables etc... But how do I know if my ground is good enough for grass? How do I prepare my ground? Because if I start digging a hole the ground seems a bit like clay.
Should I dig out the whole garden and level it? Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention that I don't have any good equipment for gardening... image 

Sorry,  a lot of questions but maybe you guys can give me some advices on this. 
I would appreciate it dearly! 

Regards,

Mattijn

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Posts

  • Firstly, if you have Japanese Knotweed it's really the responsibility of the landlord to eradicate it as it will spread into the adjoining gardens, force its way up through paths and possibly damage buildings. He has a legal duty to do something about it - probably getting an approved contractor in would be the best thing.

  • Sadly, in Rotterdam (and in The Netherlands) it's still not registered as an illegal plant. 

    So, do I have to get rid of everything before I can do anything else?

  • I've not had personal experience of Japanese knotweed, but I do know that it is very persistant and hard to kill, even with weed killers, because its roots travel so far. I would think that if you are to have any hope of making a half decent garden you would need to dig it as thoroughly as you can and remove every bit of root that you can find.

    Get your house mates to help out, tell them it's a better work out than the gym! Get yourself a decent garden fork and get started as soon as you can.  As you probably don't have a lot to spend on garden tools you can use the fork like a rake to level roughly at first.Then leave it and wait for the knotweed to show up. If it does then attack it with glyphosate weedkiller which goes into the plant's roots and doesn't poison the soil for your lawn. This is best done when the weed is growing vigourously, which shouldn't be a problem with knotweed! You will have to repeat this whenever you see it.

    If you want a good lawn you will need to get a rake though, and a lawn mower of some sort  eventually! You will also need a trowel for planting and a spade for digging holes for larger plants and for edging the lawn (though a lawn edger is better) and some hand shears to keep the edges tidy. You are taking on quite a challenge here so don't lose heart - if you can beat knotweed it shows real determination and it ought to go on your CV!

  • As a PS to what Buttercup says you must only dispose of it in an approved way - either by burning or at a proper disposal site. Not in the wheelie bin or composting facility.

    There's plenty of guidance on the web or from your local Council.

  • Thanks a lot for the advice guys!

    One more question. How do I know for sure if the knotweed is entirely gone before I can start creating my lawn? Or how long will it take before the knotweed is dead by removing the plants daily?

  • It could be years before it is entirely gone, as it has almost certainly spread to neighbouring gardens too and will re-invade, as well as growing up from deep roots that you couldn't reach. You will have to decide when it has declined to a bearable amount and then go ahead with your plans. Regular mowing should keep it down in the lawn area, and you will have to keep up the weedkiller campaign elsewhere. Look for a gel form of the glyphosate that can be painted on to leaves, to avoid damage to other plants. Sorry I can't be more precise or give better news. You would have a better chance if the owners of surroundng land tackle it too, as allowing leaves to flourish feeds the roots.

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