Wasteland garden.....please help

We desperately need to sort our garden as we have 3 young children desperate to play out there, our garden is 18m by 12m and we want to section it off ie, patio or decking, play bark and kids toys at bottom and a vegetable patch beds flower beds......anyhow the garden has never been tended to and full of massive bumps and dips of compacted grass and stinging nettles. 

What is the best way to level it out and kill the weeds and grass so we can re turf etc? I know tonnes of people probably asked asked this before but it's so daunting When gardening is not our hobby, have attached a pic it has so much potential. We have been told to rotavate it, but won't doing that mean that the weeds just grow back? Thanks in advance.



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  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    I'. afraid your picture has not come up(do not press enter)

    You need to discover what is making the bumps etc so rotovating to start with is maybe not a good idea. Why don't you work out approximately where everything you want, wll go and then take a section at a time. Can't give you a quick fix i'm afraid.

    You could see what is under the overgrowth  and deal with it. As a child safe area is priority start on a  say 3m square area near the house that you can temporarily fence off. Clear the top growth and see what is underneath. If it is just uneven soil then you could rotavate, If not then clear that area, lay down some membrane (cheap) and a layer of bark and your children will at least have a small area to get out in while you tackle (area by area) the rest of the garden

    One thing though, a rotavator breaks up and chops weed roots and you may make the problem worse, not better

  • It seems to be layers of grass but when it over grows its dandelions, stinging nettles and long grass, I have been googling and wondering if covering it will kill everything? Or should I spray it and cover it, I haven't got a clue. 

    Its such a large area and that's half the problem if it was as all I would try and dig it over and keep picking out weeds as I go along but not an option When it's quite a large area.

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 24,230

    I've made, if not a lawn then an area suitable for kids to play on, by just mowing. If you rake out the bumps, dig up the obvious nettles. You might have to strim or hover mow the rough stuff to start with. Then just regular mow. Stinging nettles won't like that,, they'll soon give up. There's plenty of nettles here but none in the lawn. That would give the children somewhere to play while you worked on the rest. You can't do everything at once.

  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    I would start by glyphosating the whole lot now.  In two weeks you will be able to rake off the dead grass and weeds and see what is underneath.  A spray pack that goes over your shoulder shpuld do it.  You can hire one.  As the weeds return glyphosate again.  Then think aout covering an area for the children with membrane and a, sandpit, playhouse etc.  Why not mke it all portable so that when their feet have levelled every part of their play area you move ot all so they can level another bit.  a bit like having a pig to fertilise an area like the gardeners have at Hidcote in their large veg garden.

  • I was just saying to my husband about killing it all, we only want a patch of grass in the middle so thanks for your advice happyMarion, it just seems to be built up dead grass in big piles so have a feeling once it's all gone it won't seem so daunting.  Brilliant using the kids to stamp it down lol, pigs, kids what's the difference haha image 

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,820

    Good luck, whatever you decide.

    Do remember no garden can be a quick fix, but do take an area at a time and it will soon evolve. I'm about halfway through mine and been here 3 years, having to start from scratch

  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    Justine, I have been tending my garden 50 years next year.  It is a delightful garen now and has many visitors but we arrived with 4young children and had another 3 and seven grandchildren.  It has had a football pitch, three storey tree house, tennis and badminton courts, tent pitch for camping with school friends, has fed nine of us when we had 55 ducks and hens = all now gone and now my joy and full of veg and wondrous plants.  I have half an acre but i am sure your garden will give you and your family much good health and pleasure like ours did.

  • Thanks for all your advice, we realise there is no quick fix. Have bought the glyphosate today and have a list of jobs we can do whilst waiting to sort the lawn. We are going to do it section by section as advised, starting with kids area. Happymarion your garden sounds like it has such a lovely history, I hope we have many happy years too, I think this may be the start of me getting the gardening bug, I'm a wee bit obsessed now image 

  • Justine, that's how it starts! The obsession doesn't go away...image 

    have a fabulous time working on your garden, and we'd love to see it once you've made a start. 

    i do love a good project!! 

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