Overgrown Garden assistance/advice

19 Jun 2007
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United Kingdom

Been in this house for 3 years now, have finished decorating the insides and have decided it time to tackle the garden :( .

Last winter we paid a gardener £600 to dig out the jungle at the back and put that black sheeting down, as you can see it didn't really work.

I do not know the first thing about gardening but do have plenty of spare time on my hands, i know that it is riddled with bindweed but thats the only plant i could name.

How would i go about sorting this mess?[
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If you don't want to keep anything there, spray it with Glyphosate. A couple of weeks later, spray it again.

I would then mulch heavily (six inches) and watch for any regrowth through the mulch (especially round the edges). Spray it again if there is any. Otherwise, plant things by pulling the mulch aside for the hole, and pulling the mulch back round the stem afterwards to cover exposed soil. Keep an eye out for weed growth and spray what you see. Very little will grow in or through a thick mulch,although your established plants will have their leaves above it so will be OK. You will then have to continue tending and weeding it in future years. If your neighbours have bindweed (Convulvulous) it will come under the fence, but Glyphosate will kill it

If you don't want mulch and plants, you can dig it over for a lawn. Spray weed growth before and after digging, and just before you sow the grass seed. Then, regular mowing will kill almost any weeds that try to come through the grass.

If you want a job for life that will never end, you can hand-pull weeds instead of spraying and mulching.
Generally speaking I agree with Johnd. Iassume the black sheeting is proper landscape cloth. Black non woven fabric rather than plastic. If it is then cover the whole are with a mixture of woodchip and bark if you have a saw mill nearby. good thick layer will supress all the weeds and save a geat deal of time and effort.

As for a planting. Maybe consider planting a variety of evergreen shrubs. they dont loose their leaves in winter and give an all year round show. As John says, plant through the cloth but cut a large cross in the fabric first. then fold it back around the plant and recover with the mulch.

The lawn looks nearly OK! Make a straight line border edge down the sides which will neaten up the whole look. If you want a good lawn then rake it with a wire rake to get out all the dead grass and thatch. Give it a couple of liquid feeds to give it a boost. Come september re seed any bare patches. For liquid feeding lawns see www.superspray.co.uk they sell a sprayer and the feed. I dont like to use pellet feed cause if it doesnt rain soon after you apply it the grass can turn brown.

God luck
cheers lads, great advice.

i wonder why the gardener i employed to clean the jungle out didn't advise this method :rolleyes: , would have been a lot less work for him and cheaper for me!!

how log should it take for the plants/weeds to die off and will i need to remove all the dead vegitation before covering with mulch?
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Weeds will turn brown in a few weeks (they die from the roots up with Glyphosate,although it is absorbed through the leaves). You don't need to clear dead top if you don't want to. It will rot away in time.

Paraquat (Weedol) kills from the leaves so is faster, but less effective on deep or large things but fine for small weeds or young seedlings.
When the weeds are dead, rake off the vegetation but before laying down the mulch, apply some general fertilizer to the area (Growmor at handful / sq m.) to add fertiliity to the soil.

When planting shrubs and plants make sure the plant/shrub has been watered well in the pot. dig a hole no deeper than the plant pot and fill it with water. When its drained away, put plant in hole, back fill with soil, firm around with your heel and water again. Plants should quickly establish.

Talk about "Armchair Gardening" Its a bit sadistic of us advising people to do all this hard work!!
thanks lads, least now i have somewhere to start and a little direction.

It does sound like hard work but when you consider i was considering just getting the garden fork out and digging away it sounds much easier.

Is mulch expensive? i only ask as it is quite a large area to cover

PS - i used to make weedol and round up, wish i had pinched a bit while i was there. Don't wish i still worked there though, nasty job working with nasty chemical. 20ml of that paraquat will kill you :eek:
It is fairly expensive if you buy it in big sacks. You may find you can get a load of compost delivered by your local authorityor garden supplier for a lesser amount.

I used to use old horse muck (on a wood-shavings bedding which is absorbent and does not smell unpleasant like straw bedding). If you have a substantial garden you can accumulate quite a lot from a compost heap, mixing in leaves, twigs, small prunings and lawn mowings and turning a few times.

If you lay these things dry instead of digging in, they give a thick dry layer that will suppress weeds. I don't use the weed fabric myself, so the worms take it down after a year or so.
I use a mixture of wood chips mixed with "Forest floor" mulch (sweepings) bought from a local saw mill. alternative supplies might be the tree surgeons that put the branches thro a shreader. Council may have a load to dispose of.

Also if you have a Leylandii hedge use the clippings from that. Anything that looks OK and is vegetable at least three inches thick will do.

Keeps weeds down, increases moisture and gives the birds something to dig in the winter.

As John says best not to use weed fabric as the mulch needs to be in touch with soil. You will be surprised at how little maintenance the garden will need with this sytem.
i agree with the two "old" boys as well. Most fabrics break down very quickly and a decent layer of mulch will improve the soil over time and stop the weeds as well. We pay about £70 for a 3m3 tipper load, compared to most people paying about £4-£5 a bag in the garden centres. The stuff isnt so good either. ring around a few landscapers or look in your local friday ad for suppliers.

As for planting we use a lot of mediterranian style plants as they are easy to look after and dont need much attention. Have a wander around a few garden centres and see what you like. Dont buy anything, have a trip in the country and go to some decent nurseries, where you will get your feet muddy and save pounds on decent plants.

Simple thing about gardening is try it. if it doesnt work or you dont like it, move it or change it!
no i think your mistaken John, still in my 30's!
further to earlier answers.... if you like mowing why not just keep mowing all the way up the garden I have done this in several different areas and i find i t to be the easiest way of keeping weeds at bay. i usually use a bow-saw, a sickel, secateurs and a rake to prepare things safely for a rotary mower.

You wont end up with a perfect lawn initially, it will have clover and daisies and dandelions etc in it but because they are closely mowed on a regular basis, they wont flower and set seed

Once you have seen the garden in its mown state for a while, you will have a better idea of where to put shrubs or where to cut borders or have seating areas etc

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