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Novice gardener, weeds, grass and a membrane!

(4 Posts)
Brilliantidiot Fri 19-Apr-19 15:27:38

I moved in to this place 2 years ago and I've never had a garden before. When I moved in the garden was devoid I of any grass, plants or flowers except an old water tank planted with haven't a clue what something I didn't like the look of and some trees and shrubs next to the wall/fence. The floor was concrete and bricks laid as a sort of patio and then woodchip on the main garden. It looked ok so I left it as was until last year. Then I took the bricks up, made some beds with them and planted some annual plants from the shop. The problem was the woodchip bit, I don't know what it was for, but there's some sort of membrane there, like cloth, but grass, weeds and just about everything grew through it. Last year I just didn't have the time to sort it properly so bought a strimmer and just strimmed the 'lawn' weeds to keep it down and it looked half decent but really I wanted grass, of which there's some but mostly just weeds. But kept short it was green and looked tidy. And the dogs used it anyway, so was never going to be wonderful.
This year I have fenced that bit off, and built a bigger bed and dug in the compost from last year and dug it over, just literally thrown some cheap seeds (£1 shop!) In and wait and see.
I've started digging the rest over and the weeds and grass roots are tangled in the membrane and have grown through it and it's almost impossible to dig it up! I've been out there 3 hours today and have got about 2 foot done! I have scraped as much as I can from the surface and cut the grass/weeds down, and I've found the edge of it but it's such slow progress! I've fenced that bit off from the dogs, so could use some weed killer on it, but, for one will that stop any grass seed I put down growing in future? And two, will it make any difference to getting the membrane out if everything is dead? The roots are just all through the membrane and it's coming up in small clumps of roots and cloth.
Am I just stuck with digging the damned thing to inch by inch?
I don't want a perfect lawn or garden, but I do want a lawn that's not more weeds than grass!
I also have next to no budget. I can't get anyone in to do it and can't afford turf or anything like that, I realise it's going to take a while and I'm prepared to work at it and wait. I've got a few pots and some things I've managed to keep alive (some lilies, a couple of small rose plants and some shrubs and small trees that I have no clue what they are but I cut them all back in winter and they're growing like mad!)
Sorry if these are daft questions, I am a complete novice and have looked at things to help with lawns but all I can find is how to start one from scratch, or repair one, maintain, which will be helpful when I'm at that stage!
Thank you!

gairytoes Fri 19-Apr-19 15:35:32

I wouldn't use weed killer. I think you have 2 or 3 options.

You could ignore it until next January. Weeds will die off and it will be a lot easier to remove the membrane. Keep digging it over until April time, when you need to topsoil, rake and then seed.

Or this summer you could suppress current weeds by putting down cardboard over the membrane, it will break down, starve the weeds of light, they will die off. You could then put topsoil over the cardboard and plant your grass seed into that.

Brilliantidiot Fri 19-Apr-19 22:08:19

Thank you for the reply, I may go for the cardboard option - as for 'top soil' is the bagged soil you can buy suitable, and what thickness do I need to put down? Will probably need to buy a bag or two a week to build up enough to do the whole area.

gairytoes Sat 20-Apr-19 10:52:09

Yes, the bagged stuff. You'll need more than you think. You might be cheaper getting a local supplier to deliver it in bulk. You probably want about 4 inches of depth above the original weed suppressant. Depending on how the area is contained, you might want to put up some edging to contain the new depth you'll have. You can get it quite cheaply though.

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