Garden Problems

Old overgrown garden

Zone N Bristol | Jo Vernon added on September 28, 2016 | Answered

HELP ! My daughter has just bought a small house in Bristol which has a seriously overgrown garden. It was obviously once much loved (we have been sent some old photos of it from the 1950s when it was obviously well looked-after, with an immaculate veg patch and interesting shrubs and fruit trees) but when the last (the original) owners grew old and incapable, it became neglected and now most of it (approx 15 metres long and 8 metres wide) apart from a small lawn along the back of the house, which has obviously occasionally been mown in recent years, has become a complete waist-high wilderness of brambles, bindweed and ivy and other particularly difficult and persistent weeds (though, hopefully, I think not ground elder!) The hedges down the sides, still with some potentially good and interesting shrubs, have become overgrown and far too high. At the far end there is a very old greenhouse, completely invisible, smothered in ivy, inside and out and all hidden by an enormous japonica. We are a gardening family and my daughter is keen to try and restore and nurture this garden, but she is a single parent with a very demanding job and very little time. I have a fair amount of gardening knowledge and practical expertise, but at 74 and living 60 miles away, I feel that this project is rather beyond me! How do we start to reclaim this garden so that we can start pruning, planting, looking after it and enjoying it? We do not want an immaculate, manicured and obviously ‘designed’ garden, just one that is natural but a little more manageable. My feeling is that the only way is by attacking it with massive doses of Roundup and then burning the residue (though this may be difficult in a rather busy, suburban neighbourhood). But my daughter is not keen on this rather toxic route! PLEASE can anyone help with suggestions?! I can give you more details if needed.

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Answered on September 29, 2016

How wonderful your description of your daughter's new home and garden.
Though this sounds like an overwhelming task, I would encourage you to take this as a process and that the garden can and will improve with time and labor.
I myself took on a weed patch several years ago and over a period of 2 years created a wonderful garden space.
Though it is tempting to 'kill off and start new', I would discourage this approach and tackle the garden one project or plant at a time!
The garden will reward your family with this approach and not using chemicals will be beneficial to your family, the soil, and the wildlife.
Start with identifying as many plants as you can, before winter sets in if possible.
Label plants so you can find them again in the spring.
Removing weeds from around plants and taking inventory of what you have.
Make a list and draw diagrams of the garden.
Plant identifications will naturally lead to care and pruning tasks.
A garden teaches many things and patience may be the biggest lesson in this case.
Here is an article that will help you get started.

Please feel free to ask questions here at Gardening Know How and use our vast data base of articles and help.

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