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How to tame the wilderness!

Hi all, I'm looking for some help from anyone with experience of bringing flower beds back from neglect.

I have inhereited a large area (and I do mean several hunderd square feet) of borders which 7-8 years ago would probably have won prizes. They are full of trees, shrubs, perenials, hundreds of spring bulbs etc.

Unfortunately they are also heavily infested with nettles, docks, hogweed, ground elder, a lot of grasses have encrouched and I am sure a whole lot more invasive things I have not yet spotted.

I have come to the conclusion that the only way to deal with the situation is to take small sections and dig them up, replacing bulbs/perernials as I go and reducing trees and shrubs back to a sensible size.

My question is, can anyone think of an easier way, or if not, when is a good time to take this on? Any tips would be gratefully received.


  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    I'm afraid that if you want to keep what is good, the way you describe is the best way to go.  Take on a little bit at a time, but watch the weeds for flowering and stop them, you don't need another years seeds in the beds.  You can dig the bubs up and replant them, it may in fact do them good especially daffodils and so on as they may well have become congested by now.  The shrubs you need to give a good look at - are they plants woirth keeping?  If so, then tidy up now, if they have flowered then a harder prune can be done now, or leave until the autumn.  The same applies to perrenials, are they worth keeping?  If so, tidy them and enjoy them now, then dig up and split in the autumn, replanting  good bits shere you want them.  Docks and hogweed are dreadful to get out, digging is the only answer if you don't want to use chemicals, I believe hogweed is a notifiable weed?  I'm sure someone will correct me if that is not so. 

    The only other answer is just to dig the whole bed up, spray with glyphosphate and wait to replant - but then you have to risk losing what you don't yet know about, plus bulbs that you miss.  Yu also have to look after the plants you have dug up. 

    There is no quick and easy way around this kind of replenishment  and refurbishment., but I'll bet it will be wonderful when you are done.  Buy a good variety of bath salts to put in the bath after each days work!  

  • BriggsyBriggsy Posts: 71

    Thanks Bookertoo, not looking to go down the chemical road, so hard work looks like the only option. I'm sure once I get going it will all become clearer, however at the moment it all just looks scary due to the sheer volume!

  • BookertooBookertoo Posts: 1,306

    That's why it is so important to do a bit at a time, or you will feel overwhelmed byt the whole idea! Poor you, I have gained such a garden in my time, and I'm afraid it did take ages, but in the end it was worth it.  It might be worth just doing something like mowing if you have a lawn, that helps it to look better at once.  Maybe chop weeds to ground level where they are big, like docks and nettles at least ehy won't set seed again this year, and you might be able to see something nice next to them?   Other than that, hard work, lots of cups of tea - and do tell, or show if you can photograph it, how you are doing.  Lots of good people here to encourage you. 

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