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Help me clear this border - novice gardener! (Pic)

(36 Posts)
NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 12:33:46

So under all that crap is a border

How best to clear it? I'd like to plant a kind of wild flower garden along it for the bees but clearly it needs digging and clearing first.

Do I just fork it over first and then pull everything out? Pull out as much as possible first and then dig out? Firebomb the lot of it?!

Sandy soil, not too hard but very stony

Thanks for any advice!

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 12:34:54

Should also mention. My tools are:

A mower
A strummer
A big garden fork
A little fork
A trowel
A hoe
And a ton of roundup
Oh and gloves!

Do I need anything else?

Mrscog Sat 11-Mar-17 12:41:54

I am no expert but I think I would dig/fork it all over. Pull out any big plants/weeds and then spray it with round up.

ChuckDaffodils Sat 11-Mar-17 12:48:48

If it were me I'd fork it all over removing all roots and shoots, making sure that all perennial weed roots were out. Make sure no grass is left. Then leave it 3 weeks for all the weed seeds to germinate [stale seed bed]. Also gently take out any perennial weeds that have started to grow back. Then sow wildflowers.

Knowing how these things work, I'd also sow plugs of wildflowers that I could use to infil spaces in a couple of months. About a tray of 100 for each couple of metres of border.

Be aware that wildflowers don't like too many nutrients, if there are too many then grass tends to take back over. Be also aware that you are not likely to get a good display in the first year. What often happens is that in that first year, the grass continues to grow and kills off a fair few of the wildflowers before they have fully established. Also, if you cut down the wildflowers after flowering before they have dropped their seed, then there isn't enough new flowers germinating to keep the grass at bay. So if there was too much clay in it, I'd probably buy a bag of sharp sand and dig that in after the weeds have been removed. I mean a tonne bag, not a small bag.

ChuckDaffodils Sat 11-Mar-17 12:52:19

I am no expert but I think I would dig/fork it all over. Pull out any big plants/weeds and then spray it with round up.

Not being funny, but round up only works on living plant matter. So why would you spray soil with round up after removing all the plants and weeds?

It's bad enough that people use this shit in the first place, without just pouring it randomly into soil and letting it get into the water table.

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 13:29:42

Googles perennials blush

Ok thanks! I've made a start on digging over and forking out all the grass which seems to just be coming from three main plants. I've also discovered old potatoes confused

JT05 Sat 11-Mar-17 14:01:30

I have just done a similar clearance over the winter. I pulled up as much ivy, dandelions, bracken, and other rubbish that I could. I forked it over taking out all obvious roots. I left it a week or so for the frost to get at it. Then forked it over again looking for more weed roots. I left it until some seeded weeds germinated and removed them by hand, forking over again. I them put some compost on it, raked it over and now I am planting.
I would not put any weed killing chemicals on the soil, you will kill what you want to grow.
Wildflower meadows are not easy to establish. I suggest you plant some insect loving plants such as sedums, borage, thyme, buddlia and the like. The RHS website will give a lot of information.
It sounds a great project.

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 14:12:16

JT05, wow sounds like you've been hard at work.

I'm determined to do something with it this year, I did try last year but it seemed like such work, no matter how much I pulled out it didn't seem to make a difference. I've started forking it over and taking out the obvious big bits. There are so many brambles I'm just cutting them off where they start from. Trying not to get disheartened!

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 14:14:28

I'm hoping for something like this in the end

JT05 Sat 11-Mar-17 14:17:14

Yes that photo is 'the dream'. You will have to dig the brambles out, I'm afraid otherwise they will just come back. They send runners under the ground and spring up all over the place.

elephantoverthehill Sat 11-Mar-17 14:24:12

Is the border quite shady? There looks like an overhanging tree to the left of the photo. This may narrow down your choices.

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 14:48:17

It gets early morning and then late afternoon sun, but the bit closest bit in the photo is very shaded.

I'm not really at the planting bit yet or even really thinking about it. I just need to get it cleared!

Adarajames Sat 11-Mar-17 15:00:13

Brambles is one of the few things I do resort to chemicals on, and paint it directly onto their leaves and let work for a couple of weeks so goes into and kills roots; otherwise you'll be forever cutting them back as they re sprout everywhere.
Rest of it as pp say about sitting, leaving for seeds to sprout, dig again etc. Or you could look up lazy beds if you want to grow veg there which removes need for so much digging to start with

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 15:04:01

So far today I've found wood (looks like an old rotten raised bed?), bricks, sackcloth, slate and bricks confused

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 15:05:02

Am trying to dig up the brambles as I find them. I bought the round up to tackle the stinging nettles around the back of the house. Not even thinking about that today!

MewlingQuim Sat 11-Mar-17 15:12:47

You will have to dig out the bramble roots, sorry. They will only keep growing back, they are pretty resistant to round up.

It looks too shady for a wildflower meadow. Better to pick shade tolerant perennials with a similar feel to them, maybe astrantia, geranium, Japanese anemones?

viques Sat 11-Mar-17 15:16:51

that is a lovely wall, I am very jealous!!! firstly I think you need to decide how wide and what shape you want the border to be, You could come out quite a bit I think to then allow yourself room to plant a lovely climber or two against the wall. If you have a n old hosepipe, or washing line try laying it out and trying different configurations of width and curve until you are happy. then you know how much you have to clear. Are you going to get rid of or at least cut back that huge bush? decide what you are going to do with it and do it, losing a lot or all of the bulk of it will again give you a better idea about how much space you have to work with.

you have quite a lot of border there, and while wild flower meadows are lovely they are only lovely for a few months, I think you need to think about having a bit more structure in that border to give year round interest, so some permanent shrubs, and some herbaceous stuff will be needed too. this can also be wildlife and bee friendly so don't worry. Have a look through some gardening books to get some ideas. Try to choose things that extent the season for bees, there is plenty for them in the summer but they often struggle in the early spring and late autumn, for example I visited a garden this week and the bees were going doolally over Scilla which I had never thought of for them but will put in for next year now.

as for clearing your patch, be thorough! get rid of as much root as you can , keep an eye out for seeds etc springing up . If you are going to be leaving soil bare before you plant it might be worth covering it over after you have cleared it, broken down cardboard boxes will do, and will also congregate snails and slugs in one place for a quick Armageddon!

Adarajames Sat 11-Mar-17 15:22:57

nettles are fantastic food for peacock butterflies (well technically their catterpillars) so always good to leave them some if you can. They are far easier to get rid of than brambles though, just cut them low with strimmer and dig out, they don't take over and grow back from tiny bits like brambles will, save any need for chemicals for brambles / bindweed / knotweed / mares tail if you do need to use any

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 17:39:33

Viques, thank you so much! Very informative. I may think twice about the flowers then, going to spend the night reading up on the RHS website

This is about all I got done today, feel like I could've done more but it's a start

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 17:41:10

I dug along what looks like the old border, grass is very loose and not established. I'm happy with it this size so will carry on.
Have attached some photos of either end, no idea what to do to make it flow when I get to the tree and the bush down the other end?!

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 17:42:43

Adara, happy to leave them some nettles round the back, nobody goes round there much anyway.

I need to think small this year instead of taking on the whole garden and then giving up after a month

Mrscog Sat 11-Mar-17 17:47:57

chuckdaffodils you're right and I missed out a crucial line where I was going to say leave it a fortnight and then spray it off.

But you're right much better to do it the slow and steady way and pick them out rather than using chemicals. My post did make it sound like i was very free and easy with them when actually I only use a tiny amount a year when the godforsaken bindweed gets out of hand!

Mrscog Sat 11-Mar-17 17:48:15

Great job OP - and lovely wall, so envious of the scope!!

NoviceGardener101 Sat 11-Mar-17 21:59:12

Thank you all for the advice! Lots to take in but hoping I will make something of it

Need to stop looking at the garden as a whole and then wanting to just run inside! My gardening so far stretches to mowing the lawn and that's it

viques Sun 12-Mar-17 00:57:18

Wow, you worked hard today! My advice would be to hack back the bush ( do you know what it is? ) it looks pretty sturdy so will not harm and it might be interesting, it is huge so will be a nightmare to dig out., but it will be taking a lot of moisture from the soil. With the tree I would swerve and widen the border to include the tree, lovely opportunity to under plant snowdrops ( and Scilla!)for spring interest and cyclamen for autumn both of which will be fine for dry shade.

To add to your list of tools I would recommend a good pair of secateurs. Get a decent pair not a lidl special.

Do not under any circumstances be tempted to plant what the garden centres call 'ground cover' eg ivy,woodruff,vinca . Otherwise you too will still be digging it out after thirty years........

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