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I've just had a fight with the garden and lost :(

(28 Posts)
sebsmummy1 Mon 04-May-15 14:27:21

Grrr I'm so pissed off.

For some reason I have decided I want to turn this very overgrown area of the garden into a veggie patch. We inherited a mature garden that had been very well tended by the owners before the man we bought the house from. It has all sorts of flowers and borders, fruit trees and climbing plants etc. the previous owner did pretty much nothing for the 5 or so years he occupied the house. Was often living away from the house and everything became a jungle in his absence.

There is an area about 7ftx7ft that was a large border which I assume was once very nice, but has ended up being a tangled mass of ivy, yellow plants, a few shrubs and some herbs, bluebells and daffs.

Went out there this morning bristling with energy and enthusiasm and a few hours later have given up. It's a total mess. We have hacked things back and dug up a shrub but every time i try and dig, my spade will hardly go through and when it does it's just roots, roots, roots. I have made little to no headway in three hours!

I am contemplating either ringing a company and asking for professional help or hiring some cultivating equipment. We have a mini rotavator but the roots tie it up in knots, not sure if a heavy duty one would be any better? Do you think we'd be better just bringing a company in to clear the area or would you persevere?

Thanks very much.

DesperatelySeekingSanity Mon 04-May-15 14:40:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SaskiaRembrandtWasFramed Mon 04-May-15 14:45:21

I'd pay someone to clear it for you.

MoreBeta Mon 04-May-15 14:48:46

Pay a landscaper with a mini digger to clear it. That's what I did in a similar situation.

FeckoffandDie Mon 04-May-15 14:53:01

What sort of roots - do you mean tree roots? If so it's obvious but be cautious about cutting through them with equipment. If you like the tree(s) that is smile

Sounds like super hard work, well done for trying. I am envy at your established garden though. Ours is very un-established, I wish it had more substance.

sebsmummy1 Mon 04-May-15 15:28:42

Oh thank you all for replying flowers. I am not a gardener yet have been trying do hard with this garden. It's quite big and like I said was very overgrown.

I've asked DP If he thinks there is space to get a mini digger through the back gate or through the garage and he thinks not unfortunately.

I've taken some photos ...

FeckoffandDie Mon 04-May-15 15:49:08

Oh wow it's wonderful smile

I can see what you mean. It's going to be a long term project isn't it?

Perhaps wait till autumn or winter to try again? The earth will be far softer and easier to dig, though you'll have more mud to tackle as well...can't win really grin

Adarajames Mon 04-May-15 16:01:31

Your other optionis to cut things down to ground level, cover with weed suppressant / hessian backed carpet, and then build raised beds and buy in decent topsoil / manure to fill them and grow in that

TheHappinessTrap Mon 04-May-15 16:04:55

I was in a similar situation OP, granted with a smaller garden. About 7 years ago I paid two gardeners to spend a day clearing out the lot so I could start afresh. I think I spent £100-£150. They chipped and cleared away all the stuff. I was then free to peruse the aisles of the garden centre. I would highly recommend it.

CuttedUpPear Mon 04-May-15 16:11:07

Don't dig with a spade. You will treble your workload.
Spades are for lifting loose stuff out of the way, not digging.

Use a good, large stainless steel fork and use it to lever up the soil, cutting up any roots you come across with loppers.

Get a bonfire on the go and enjoy watching it all go up in smoke.

Adarajames Mon 04-May-15 18:08:31

Or if you want to save your back, try an adze, way easier to use for clearing stuff

aircooled Mon 04-May-15 20:13:56

Like Cutted I was going to say use a fork - it might also help if it's rained, the ground looks very dry. Is that nasty hypericum at the front? - I hate it! This is the most demoralizing type of gardening - it might be worth paying for a bit of brawn to clear it.

sebsmummy1 Mon 04-May-15 20:28:26

Thanks again for your kind advice. Well we decided to get back out there and tackle it again and have actually made inroads. There is a hell of a lot of ivy, which has wrapped itself around and around and so you end up pulling and pulling or cutting it into bits. I have no idea about anything else I'm afraid. There are some daffs and bluebells and a prickly shrub.

The plan is to keep cutting and digging (we have a spade and a fork) and try and do the best we can before we call for help. The roots seem to be pretty shallow on the whole which is something.

I want to raise the bed so we will get someone in to hopefully erect some planks around the edge and sort the soil out. I like the idea of laying carpet or similar and then good quality soil over the top. There are tons of small bulbs in the soil at the moment and I doubt they will be able to remove then entirely. Will be quite irritated if the veg patch ends up covered in miscellaneous plants so it would be good to just clear lots of soil out, put a carpet or similar down and then put fertile soil on top. Having a veg patch is a bit of a childhood dream so I'm really hoping it's doable smile

shovetheholly Tue 05-May-15 11:29:50

Don't underestimate what hard work it is, and don't do yourself down - clearing a small amount is a BIG job and hence a BIG achievement!

My best advice: cut everything down with loppers to ground level and then buy a mattock and whack it into those roots. Breaks everything up like nothing on earth - way better than a fork for heavy-duty work. And you won't need to go to the gym after. wink

You'll need loads of compost and manure to put some structure back into the soil.

I know people who do plant on top of carpets, but I am always a bit scared about them leaching chemicals into the veggies.

Buglife Tue 05-May-15 11:37:44

I'm in a similar position, just moved Ito a house with first ever garden and its huge and very established, shrubs and trees and so many different kinds of plants I'm lost! So many weeds as well. I don't yet want to dig up a whole section but I am wondering if I should get someone in to tame the shrubs and do a mega weed as I've been pulling up loads and cutting back mad shrubs but it's not making a dent and it all seems to grow in front of my eyes!

CuttedUpPear Tue 05-May-15 13:08:12

I wouldn't advocate putting soil on top of carpet yo create a beg bed. For a start you would never be able to grow root veg, you'd also need to build up the sides to create a raised bed.

Keep going with the fork - if as you say the roots are shallow you will develop a system for getting them out.
You can incorporate any new soil to improve the quality of the bed.

CuttedUpPear Tue 05-May-15 13:09:37

to create a big bed is what I meant to say.

shovetheholly Tue 05-May-15 13:11:06

Buglife - honestly, it looks like you're doing a great job. Fantastic space, with bags of potential!

Buglife Tue 05-May-15 17:47:06

shovetheholly thanks, I am really happy with it, but it all grows about a foot a week I'm sure! I've only just realised how fast stuff grows grin so I'm worried I'll let it slip for a few weeks and it will be a jungle. And Borage! Goddam borage is everywhere and I pull it up one week and it's back the next. sebsmummy I hope your hard work pays off smile

AlternativeTentacles Tue 05-May-15 17:51:56

Stay away from the carpet!

Buy a mattock [called a digging hoe on amazon] and you will be able to turn the soil over and chop through those roots like butter.

Clear a space, then plant it up. Then clear the next space and plant it up.

sebsmummy1 Tue 05-May-15 18:14:58

Funnily enough that tool was exactly what I was trying to describe to DP over the weekend. Is it readily available at DIY/garden centre places? I'm out tomorrow so could go looking for one then.

AlternativeTentacles Tue 05-May-15 18:35:32

I buy mine from Amazon and they are usually here in a day or two. I've not seen them in shops to be honest. Sometimes called garden adze.

BitterChocolate Tue 05-May-15 18:45:01

What about putting in a raised planter using railway sleepers or other edging? That way you could fill it with good quality soil and not need to dig through roots etc.

CuttedUpPear Tue 05-May-15 18:45:52

I also meant to mention that if you plant on top of carpet you'll be eating whatever it leaches as it decomposes.

envy bleurgh

sebsmummy1 Tue 05-May-15 18:49:20

Raised beds - yep. Our garden is
stepped so one edge will need a taller support than the rest. Hence why I will definitely be getting someone in to do that bit.

Carpet now sounds like a bad idea, so I'll either have to dig it out thoroughly or use another membrane. Thing is I do want to plant carrots as well as beans so I need the depth.

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