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What can I do to manage my garden

(14 Posts)
ElasticFirecracker Sun 14-May-17 10:44:53

What are the essential labour saving things I should be doing to manage my garden. I need to be realistic about what's possible.

My garden is too much for me. It's 1/3 acre. I'm very lucky and I love (my fantasy idea of) gardening, but can't seem to get it under control.

When we moved here it was a jungle -overgrown, full of overgrown shrubs and inappropriately planted trees. We spent about 3 years clearing it. So we were left with some bed areas and some grass. We had quite a few fruit trees, some sadly had to go because they were badly diseased.

For the last three years I haven't been able to do anything in the garden, but am back in it now. Beds are now overgrown with brambles bindweed and ground elder in amongst the plants I've planted. I don't think it's possible to remove the weeds by hand. Do I have to dig up the plants and start again?

I'm suffering badly from weeds, growing between cracks in paving stones and in other odd areas. I know I can just pull them out but there is so much to do and they come from nowhere.

I've seen creeping thyme grown in such places, but how do you actually make this work?

I'm looking for other low growing things like 'mind your own business' but I can't find seeds for that. I need so much that I don't think buying plants is feasible.

Is digging a large pond s good idea? I imaging I'd dig a hole, cover it with pond liner and put stones round the edge, fill it, put a few plants on and leave it, but is there much more to it?

Any help or ideas gratefully received.

arbrighton Sun 14-May-17 10:55:06

Can you afford to hire someone to help? Either a one off blitz or a regular set of tasks?

Ponds actually take a LONG time to dig, and do also need maintenance I'm afraid. My parents' pond was dug 5 years ago- took us several weeks, and is only really established now but needs topping up in summer when it's dry, work on the vegetation (yes, thinning water lillies in winter, with your arm up to shoulder height in freezing water while you're in waders is GREAT....) and consideration of why you're doing it, really

ElasticFirecracker Sun 14-May-17 11:24:27


My son is helping me with the mowing. I don't have much cash at all, and wanted to save it for plants, but I will think about getting some help.

Regarding the pond- thanks for that, it's just what I needed to hear.

Pond is a project for later!

Ifailed Sun 14-May-17 11:28:11

Rather than trying to tackle it all in one go, why not just concentrate initially on the area nearest the house, and leave the rest for this year? You can then slowly work through the rest, maybe giving it all a good chop down in the mid season to stop anything getting too out of control?

arbrighton Sun 14-May-17 12:04:57

No point buying plants as an investment if you don't have somewhere decent to put them and they'll be drowned out by weeds.

I'm finally seeing my garden as a lifelong project. We did have some serious help to build the main beds, do the drive and have a fresh start with the lawn. I'd pay for ongoing help with the hawthorn hedges if I thought they'd actually pick up the damned spiny sticks- yes cutting is work for DH but i then spend the rest of the year impaling myself on it.

GingerKitCat Sun 14-May-17 14:31:47

Yes definitely tackle one area at a time, closest to the house and/or a sunny spot you'd like to sit out in.

Do you have any photos?

It sounds as though you have quite a lot to tend to without adding the work associated with a pond. If you wanted water in your garden a mini wildlife pond and/ or water feature is the lower maintenance option.

I'd love a pond but on reflection I don't think I really need one! It's quite a lot of maintenance including looking after the fish. Plus the ridiculous digging out to start with. And the worry of small children falling in shock

I've created a small wildlife pond this week which I've described here:
wildlife pond

It's giving me just as much pleasure as a bigger pond would tbh! I've ordered a floating solar fountain for it as it's in a sunny spot. I'm looking forward to hearing the relaxing trickle of water in the garden grin And I feel pleased I'm attracting wildlife instead of having an ornamental fish pond.

I might add another one, and maybe a half barrel on the patio!

Palomb Sun 14-May-17 14:41:08

I have a garden about the same size and it is a lot of work - hours and hours every weekend and any spare time in the week. I think the only way to have a low maintenance large garden is either just to accept the weeds or to have the whole lot turfed and buy a ride on mower. I guess it depends what sort of garden you want.

Re the pond I inherited a large cracked concrete pond that I had to dig years of sludge out of and reline and it was a project that took me all winter. I have no idea how the guy that lived here before dug it out as there's no access to the garden for machinery. It's 4mx3mx 1.5m deep.. digging something that size is not for the feint hearted!

The pond is great though I really couldn't recommend having a pond enough.

naturalbaby Sun 14-May-17 14:49:44

We have similar issues and DH is about to buy a mini digger to help clear areas. After watching gardeners world - a bed with bindweed being covered with plastic sheeting, I've given up ideas of planting anything until areas are officially clear of weeds. Either that or lots of weed matting and gravel beds. I'm tempted to give up on boarders, turf the lot and just grow stuff in containers on the patio!

I'd also love to have a pond with a floating solar fountain in the future. We've got a lot of shade though so I'm not sure how much power the solar panel would get. We have a sunken water feature gravel bed so it could easily be lined and filled. I saw a pond in our village with a decked area to the side of it, in the sun, and it looked amazing.

arbrighton Sun 14-May-17 20:31:59

But turf is also such a load of pigging work to keep nicely @naturalbaby

top dress
weed/ kill weeds

Flopjustwantscoffee Sun 14-May-17 22:31:57

Don't just go through the ground elder with a mini digger whatever you do... that will only encourage it...

arbrighton Mon 15-May-17 08:42:19

oh gods, no. Every little piece of chopped up root or stem will become a ground elder plant.

Digging it out is laborious but ultimately does the job and when you get a big long root, very satisfying- it's worked on the long border at our house, which was riddled with it. One summer of effort then just spot any new ones. But i did have a fresh start on the planting. And was digging out all the monbretia bulbs as well

Lucisky Tue 16-May-17 14:42:23

As someone else has said, just work on the bit nearest the house to start with. Give yourself somewhere to sit and relax between jobs. Have you considered using weedkiller on the weed patches? I took over an overgrown allotment years ago, and really it was such a time saver. (Glyphosate I think it was that I used). It would have destroyed me to weed it by hand. Also covering weedy areas with old carpet or strong black plastic until next spring will clear unwanted growth. Doesn't look brilliant, but gardening is a long game, and it really works. Ponds are a pain in the neck, unless you are totally dedicated to them - sludge, unwanted pond weeds, unruly plants. Been there, filled it in in the end! You can create a water feature with a really large planter if you really want one. Saves digging a hole.

Qwebec Tue 16-May-17 18:22:38

Mulch is a must. I accumulate bags of leaves that my neighbors leave at the side of the road in the fall and us that as and when. Finer mush in a thick layer prevents new weeds from germinating. Very dense mulch, like maple leaves or 7-10 layers of newspaper covered with something finer (for the look) prevents several established weeds from coming through.

TronaldDump Wed 17-May-17 08:02:07

Our garden was unruly when we moved in and 3 years of small babies and pregnancy hasn't helped! We're having a big patio put in which will make what's nearest the house more manageable - for the rest I'm working through it bit by bit - literally 3/4m of border at a time to dig over then try to keep on top of. Like arbrighton said coming round to seeing it as a lifetime project has helped me feel calmer about it all - and as long as the grass (weeds) is mown it's useable in the mean time.

Sounds lovely though, good luck!!!

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