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Killing an overgrown lawn

I have a very large lawn (~400sq m) that is heavily overgrown, to the point that I cannot get it back under control any more.  I have back and shoulder trouble and my lawn mower doesn't start, so I've been unable to mow it before it got too long.  I'ts now well over a foot long in places.

I've borrowed a strimmer but this is too painful for me to use for long, so practically, I'm not going to be able to beat the whole lawn this way.  I've also borrowed a beast of a petrol mower but because the lawn has been growing unchecked for so long (it's not been cut since last summer), even that won't get through it - even after strimming!  The grass is just too clumped and big now.

So, I'm left with destruction!  With such a large area, I'm thinking chemical is the way forward, but the only thing I'm really aware of is glyphosate.

Here's the tricky bit.  Within the lawn or around the edges (with no upright barriers to separate them) I have a goldfish pond, and plants - an acer, acanthus, raspberries and rhubarb, two apple trees, two veg plots (with potatoes in), pampas and shasta daisy and a large tamarix.  Obviously I don't want these to die!  I'm thinking with the acer and acanthus, I could spray to within a couple of feet then dig the remaining turf out - that I could manage with small areas.  Would that work, and how much of a gap should I leave to protect the plants and pond if so?

And the other question - how long before it's safe to re-sow?  I've needed to redo this lawn for years, the species in it are very vigourous and always get away from me at least once a year but snever to this extent.  I'd like to re-sow with different species - lawn daisies, plantains, clover, that sort of thing.  Still a green lawn, but not as thick as the current stuff so if it does get long, it's not going to take a mammoth undertaking and a sacrifice to the gods to get it under control again.

And - final thing - along the back of my garden where the veg plots and apple trees are, I want the lawn removing altogether as that area will be all for fruit and veg in the long run.  So whatever I use, I'll need to be able to plant food to eat in the soil afterwards.

Picture of the pond to give you an idea - and this is the shorter bit!



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996

    That's a mammoth job, and I doubt it would be straightforward, if you feel you aren't able to tackle it yourself. If it was me, I'd bite the bullet and get someone in to cut it. Then keep it mown short which will encourage other plants if you don't want grass. You can then plant plugs of other wildflowers in there and include yellow rattle which inhibits grass growth so that the other plants will thrive. I think weedkilling the whole area would be difficult, and you'd have to wait a while to create the new 'grass' you want.

    The bit you don't want grass at all, I'd get removed completely ( again get someone else to do it if you aren't able) or cover it and create some simple raised beds for your fruit and veg. 

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • niki.normanniki.norman Posts: 10

    Ah, I missed a bit.  I can't afford to get anyone else in to do it unfortunately, or I would do!  Too many other bills, not enough income and with it being such a big job, it would cost a small fortune.

    I don't mind waiting a while to re-sow, that's not an issue - it gets little use anyway as there's only me and the dogs here (and they can be contained within their own yard).

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,996

    You'll need a lot of weedkiller, and one application probably won't be enough. It's up to you, but I think whatever you do, it won't be easy, and what you'd spend on weedkiller would probably pay for someone to give it a quick once over. 

    Or - borrow a pony!  image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,413

    Thinking this through, if you glyphosate the whole lot you're STILL going to have to dig it out, which is surely a lot worse than strimming it. Where are you going to put the stuff you dig up? Then you'll have to cultivate to re-sow. And whatever you sow will become rank grassland in the same way if you don't keep on top of mowing it. I would find someone who'll strim it as a favour or cash in hand. Or do you know anyone who owns a goat?

    Maybe that's the solution - buy a goat! Then sell it again when the job is done :)

  • Dilly3Dilly3 Posts: 91

    Have you got any friends that could help you? If they are into gardening they would probably like to lend a hand and they might have more suitable equipment to do the jobs that need doing. 

    You could offer them drinks and a bit of food in return and maybe some of your fruit and veg you have growing.  

    Most gardeners are generous with their time especially to help a friend . 

  • BorderlineBorderline Posts: 4,700

    Totally agree with other members' comments here. The weed killer option is definitely not easy and certainly not cheap either. If you have the strimmer there, it's now a case of being nice to someone and asking them to help out. Looking at the photos, it looks like a strimmer job first and raking back a few times. 

    Help or paid help is far cheaper here. If it was me, and I had no immediate help, I will probably put an advert in the local news agent asking for someone to work for 4 hours' work under my supervision. Just my opinion.

  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,718

    I'm surprised the petrol mower you borrowed can't manage, when I bought my house the it had stood empty for nearly three years and the lawn was far higer than that and had clumps of rushes in it, those the mower did not like I will admit, but by tipping it back and then lowering it down on top it managed (I have a 175cc texas mower)

    If you really have no one to help then I would suggest black plastic it will take a year but the lawn will be dead, and mostly rotten which will make digging it over to reseed much easier, especialy if you can loan a rotovator. I do wonder though if you have health problems whether a lawn is the right choice, there's always going to be times when it gets away from you for whatever reason (weather, health, or breakdowns) Black plastic isn't very cheap, unless you can find some second hand somewhere.

    If you wish to roundup do it on a totaly wind free day (early mornings seem to be best) and use a watering can near the plants as that will avoid drift, you can also use plastic bags to protect plants you want to keep when you spray.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,135

    I think it'll be cheaper to pay a handyman to come in for half a day and sort it out with a mower than to buy enough glyphosate to kill that lot off properly. 

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

  • niki.normanniki.norman Posts: 10

    Right, ok.  Thanks all.  I guess I've just got a long lawn until it dies back in winter a bit then - that was my plan last year but then my mower wasn't starting at all and so I've ended up in this situation.  But, this time I've got the big mower to borrow so hopefully I can avoid it.  I also have a beast of my own but it's broken - when I can I'm going to get that to the shop to see if it can be fixed.

    Skandi - I was shocked.  That thing is such a beast, I thought it would be fine - I can do the lowering thing and get some, but as soon as it's down to the last 4-5" it just dies on me.  Just too thick down there.

    I would love to not have a lawn as it's such an issue but the cost of removing it and paving over is astronomical for the area involved!

    I know I'll still have to mow if I resow but there are still advantages - for one, having the opportunity to flatten the ground and start again that way, as 10 years of annual overgrowth have really clumped what's there now.  It's just a mess.  And I figure if I choose things that don't grow as densely, even if it does get away from me, it won't be anything like as hard.  The grass up the back (where the veg plot will be) is like this, it's a much less dense species so even long is nothing like as hard to mow as the rest of it.  Although right now, that doesn't apply as it's the longest of the lot!

    What I might do then is roundup one part of it, and work towards the end plan over a few years. It's in three big areas so I could start on killing one this year, then wait for the rest to die back a bit and mow in spring then start on the next etc.  I can borrow a rotovator, luckily - my best friend has one.

    Oh, on that note - my friends are a bunch of broken people like me so no help there!  I'm actually in the best shape of all of us...

    I was planning on getting a turf cutter this year and doing it that way, although finances will not allow for it unfortunately.  But might that be an easier solution, for next year?  I know I'd still have to remove the turf but at least I wouldn't have to dig it up beforehand!

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