sanity in need of restoring

Hi All,

bought a house with big (for me) garden at front and rear. My first house and first garden! Was in a bit of a mess and I didn't have much time so I paid someone to remove everything especially all the small stumps sticking up everywhere. Paid a small fortune...

Fast forward a couple of months and I have now bought some fruit trees, soon to arrive. So I thought I'd dig over the areas where trees are going to be sited. Not a huge task and was looking forward to it. Until I discovered all the tree stumps just under the surface... nicely chopped off and buried!!

Then to add salt to the wound, I start digging another area where another fruit tree is going only to find less than 6inch of topsoil and then a solid barrier. This turns out to be builders rubble, tonnes of it... Is it just my bad luck or is it always like this? My back aches, my arms and legs are going to drop off and my last thought before coming inside today was: I'm going to pave the bloody lot!

I only managed half of what I thought I'd be doing and have no desire/motivation to tackle the rest. Please tell me its all going to be worth it in the end!





  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    Oh dear Bill.

    The adage to leave a garden for a year is sensible on all levels, not just what plants you have but it gives you time to learn about your patch, soil, sun/shade and all the other stuff. 

    You could get some cheap very large plastic pots and plant your trees in them for a year to give you more time to discover the garden. I had to do this with fruit treeas and bushes and last year was able to plant the last tree a plum. all seem to have managed OK in pots. Though do need watering. It may give you time then to sort out all your other garden problems.

    Hope this helps


  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    Just looked at your other threads. A garden taked time, time to plan and time to grow.

    I started with a blank canvas 2010. I have concentrated on a small area at a time, Some shrubs and then fruit trees,our soil was also full of roots and rubble. Still is!image

    I planted my fruit trees in pots while we cleared the area they were going into and then put them in, they mostly fruited last year.

    Our veg has had to go into raised beds because of the soil. Perhaps you could do something like that where the rubble is, flowers, fruit, veg will all be Ok in them

    The best complement I had last year was that it was beginning to look like a garden and not a wilderness. Last year and the same this year I have set targets of what I want to have done by the next winter. This year for the first time it means I will have to maintain what I have done as well as starting new areas.

    I hope this may help. it is a long term thing and if you hurry you may make mistakes you cannot rectify later

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,069

    One morning about 15 years ago I went out to plant a couple of conifers. 2 days, 2 barrow-loads of bricks and a 12x14foot piece of carpet later I planted the trees. But the soil was still so poor they didn't do much. Moved one after improving some soil but too late for the other

  • BerghillBerghill Posts: 2,807

    We have removed over 30 tons of rubbish from this garden over the last 18 years. and this morning I noticed that on top of one of the moles hills was a piece of house brick, a broken scent bottle and the plastic handle from a child's cowboy gun, all fairly normal for our soil I hasten to add.

    Sorry, Bill, but leaving a garden in that state is not uncommon. The advice given is sound. I would also add that slow and steady, bit at a time is better than killing yourself trying to do it all in one go. After all, gardening is supposed to be a pleasure, not a backbreaking chore which leads you to hate doing it at all.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,069

    Put some small buddleias in Bill. They'll be something for you and the insects to enjoy. They grow in nothing at all and can be discarded when you're ready for something better

  • Hi

    Same sorry story for me too when we moved into our renovated house six yrs ago - builders rubble buried all over the garden.

    What to do? - well I did do the hard work in clearing it and improving my soil and now we get Silver in our local 'in Bloom' comps.

    Alternatively you could make use of the poor soil and utilise it for plants that like those conditions - quite an opportunity really  - rather like the earlier suggestion of Buddleia and other wildflowers.

  • Well once I'd slept on it things didn't seem to be so bad, although the aching was definitely a reminder. Thanks for your shared experiences.


  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 42,892

    Just remember - if you join a gym they'll charge you for getting to ache like that image

    Gardening is cheaper than therapy, and you get tomatoes. 
  • GirasoleGirasole Posts: 194

    Oh Bill, you have had some problems and from the thread I see others have, too, but have offered some really good suggestions for you. Stand back and take your time to think things out and then gradually decide - let's be honest it is not life threatening and will be enjoyable eventually image

    When I moved into my new home about a year ago there was (was being the operative word) a huge bay tree taking up a lot of space and casting a huge shadow on the flower bed below. I eventually got a chap to come in and remove it but like you he left the huge base and miles of underground roots! With much patience on my part he eventually came back and has dug more or less everything up and made a very big hole. I have dug it over several times removing yards/metres of roots as I did so - satisfying in its way to boot. Am planning on plants with pots in the newly created space and low lying ground cover.

    Don't be discouraged as gardening can be fun, is very rewarding and therapeutic image

  • I wonder if people's expectations of how quickly a garden can be sorted out are still subconsciously affected by Titchmarsh and his Groundforce chums apparently doing the whole job in a weekend, and by some of the copycat programmes that pop up from time to time. What viewers needed to realise was that a lot of this work was achieved on substantial TV programme budgets and hefty inputs of advertising freebies from suppliers.

    The good advice on this thread is to pace yourself and enjoy your achievements while not worrying much about what's still to be done.

    As to the two specific comments about work not being properly done by contractors, there is no better way to choose a gardener than by word of mouth recommendation. Talk to them about the job and get a quotation for the exact work required, but accept that when they start digging they might find unexpected problems, so they need to know that they can talk it through with you and come to an agreement about varying the price.

  • JAMES 2JAMES 2 Posts: 10

    Hi Bill,

    Hopefully you've probably got it all sorted by now, but when I saw your message I have so much sympathy for you, as we too had the EXACT same problem with the house we moved into in Feb 2012!

    Only a 50 foot X 20 foot rear garden, but when my wife merrily went out to plant a few sweet peas one sunny day and couldn't stick her fork more than 2 inches below the soil, we knew something wasn't quite right.

    I soon dicovered that this was the case throughout the entire garden. Every square inch of soil was laced with all manner of builders rubbish up to a depth of 2 feet; broken soil pipes, broken cement slabs, iron hinges and nails, plastic guttering, met posts, bed springs, crushed metal dustbins(?!), bricks, you name it, it was in there.

    I literally felt myself cracking up, having to spend our whole Summer breaking our backs digging out tonnes of rubble when we should have been sitting around enjoying our garden with a nice G&T in between watching the Olympics!

    We had to hire a skip and take it all through the house in a wheel barrow there was so much of it and we've only now finished preparing the soil ready for some lovely new turf at last.

    So you're not alone, it does seem to be a disturbingly common and tragic problem. Builders need to be watched like hawks so they don't do this to people.

    Funny how the garden is never given a thought in a builders survey, yet a nicely done, pretty garden can practically sell a house...

  • I've got a garden covered in brambles & bindweed.  I also suffer from ME/CFS.

    Take it slow and steady, a bit at a time if you can, rather than going like a bull at a gate and doing yourself injury.  'Pacing' is a technique you have to learn with ME, self-management is the only way to deal with it.

    Put the fruit trees in large 30 litre containers (you can get 4 for 16.99 plus p&p from ideal world - go through topcashback, get some money back by buying them from there, the code 675736 will also get you 20% off)  They will be quite happy in there for a couple of years, until you can get an area cleared - then you will make sure you've planted them in the right area.  So not tonnes of rubble like others, still a big job with lots of digging.

    I enjoy the garden, time on my own, to think and dream, and the ache I get is a different ache to the illness aches and pains, it's a good ache, and if I can see a difference in the garden after an hour or two I'm happy.

    Don't turn it into a chore.  It's very therapeautic, something to be enjoyed, rather than endured.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Bill i have to agree with everyone else and I sympathise totally. One thing that can be quite rewarding is to take 'before and after' pix as even a small improvement lifts your spirits and keeps you motivated! Learning about your plot is valuable but I do understand that you want to get on and sort it all out! Re you r tree stumps- someone local might take them out with a grinder - for cash. Worth a go anyway. Barter system can work well in this kind of situation!

    Joe- I have to agree with you about tv. I think novice or new gardeners got a bit misled by it all and thought you could do the same as you can do with a living room or a bedroom- a couple of days graft and 'ping'- a new look that lasts for years and you don't have to do anything much to it!

    Oh if only it was so simple!image

  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    Hi Bill - lots of sympathy!  But yes, it is absolutely worth it and you will be incredibly proud of how it looks in a few years.  Take Fairygirl's advice about the before and after pics - you will look back at them with amazement (and so will your friends...)

    Keep going, and do take some of the ideas above to make some 'quick impact' improvements so you can enjoy it too.  I was a new gardener ten years ago and in the same situation!

  • steephillsteephill Posts: 507

    It is amazing the stuff that gets dumped in gardens. I found two sailing dinghies and trailers buried under rhodos and conifers and the remains of a caravan which had been burnt down about 6 inches under the surface. Trying to dig a plot found chain link fencing buried about a foot down as well as miles of wire. Another patch yielded enough stone to build a wall round my greenhouse. There are also several piles of bricks and tiles hidden in the undergrowth. The previous owner was in the building trade you won't be surprised to hear!

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 19,692

    Steephill-Words fail me-and I know how bad builders can be!

    Very satisfying though once you get it all sorted, but it's heartbreaking while you're doing itimage

  • artjakartjak Posts: 4,168

    Bill, you have my sympathy, I started off with a sea of mud on a slope and had to get a small digger in, even so, I still come accross the odd sack of solid plaster or cement which has to be chiselled into bits that I can lift. The advice above is all good; gardens do take time. Perhaps for your sanity you could make a small area this summer which catches the evening sun and place a couple of garden chairs there so you can look at the garden and dcide what you want and in what order to do it. Good luck and it will keep you very healthyimage

  • Bill,  I know how you feel, we found a whole cast iron bath buried in our garden, it's still there but concealed.  could not dig it out and it would have left a giant hole.  We also had loads of electrical bits.  I think possibly beware if you are buying a house from tradesmen that have used the garden as a 'storage area'

  • I've had this problem in a minor way.  One solution - or rather avoiding a problem; in a small garden, I didn't want a titchy wee lawn.  Put in a patio and/or gravel over the worst bits, at least for the moment.  You can remodel it later, and it gives the place a mask of respectability and open usefulness for now.

  • JAMES 2JAMES 2 Posts: 10

    Very interesting reading some of the other horrific "buried garden rubbish" stories here.Fairygirl has a good point re before and after photos to keep your spirits up and give you the strength to carry on, so you can see how much you've achieved.

    It is worth all the pain and anguish and you will be rewarded 100 fold for your work.

    Here are a few of our before and after photos to give you a confidence boost Bill! Like I said earlier, I became really depressed with our garden, we had both reached the end our tether and literally wanted to kill the people responsible for being so irresponsible and causing us so much trouble -I still do at times..! image; ) Jokes aside though, you will do it and be able to enjoy your lovely garden in the end.

    Good luck to anyone who has experienced what some of us here have and remember -take it one step at a time!!!

     BEFORE (August 2012)



     AFTER (March 2013) Ready for turf and new flower beds!

     We also got rid of the over-bearing Palm Tree...!!!








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