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When your garden is overgrown and unloved, you might think that it’s best to raze the whole area and start again. But this would be a huge waste of plants and money! Those overgrown plants and trees are a great asset to have in your garden. Larger plants are valuable so even if you decide against keeping them, you are better off giving them to your friends and family than putting them on the compost heap.
With a little bit of love, any overgrown garden can be transformed into a sanctuary. All you need are a few simple tips to help you decide what to keep, where to prune back and how you are going to incorporate new ideas in this setting.
Plan Your Space
Before you start cutting back and removing the plants you don’t want, it’s a good idea to sit down with a hot cuppa and plan out your garden design. There are lots of great ideas you might like to look at for inspiration and drawing a few ideas out before you start buying plants is a great way to save money and perfect your look.
When you have an overgrown garden, it is well worth your time looking at the plants you have and how you can incorporate them into your design. This way, you can save on buying new plants and make the most of the lush growth you already have. It’s also worth pointing out that the plants that are going wild are also very happy – this will give you a good indication of the kind of soil you have and what else will thrive in this space.
Trees are fantastic for the planet and they are perfect for bringing height, depth and shade to your garden. However, left unchecked, trees can quickly take over your space, block out all natural light and even pose a risk to your property in stormy weather. In an overgrown garden, the trees are often the first to be removed but that doesn’t always have to be the case. A fully grown tree is really valuable so think twice before chopping it down completely.
To keep your trees in check, it’s vital that you perform regular maintenance. Pruning lower branches to raise the canopy is a good way to manage the light in your garden and removing any diseased branches should also be a priority. If you aren’t confident or you have very large trees, it’s a good idea to call in tree surgery experts. They will be able to assess the best options for your trees and advise you on further care as well.
Clearing Unwanted Plants
As tempting as it might be to spray the whole area with weedkiller, this is a very bad idea for two reasons: first, you’ll poison the soil and second, you will still have to remove all the dead plants! Though it might be more labour-intensive, removing unwanted plants by hand is far better for your garden.
While you are clearing your plants, you should make sure that you save those you want to reuse elsewhere in your garden or would like to plant after renovation. Putting these plants onto a tarp in a cool shady area should keep them healthy for a couple of days. Any plants you don’t plan to save (either to use or pass on) should either go on your compost heap or in the compost bin. Do keep in mind that many plants are happy to be divided so you don’t have to save a large clump – just keep the part you want.
Preparing the Soil
Now that you have removed the plants you don’t want, you should have a blank canvas to work with. This is the perfect time to improve the quality of the soil. Raking in some compost or mulch is a brilliant way to introduce more nutrients to the soil but you might also consider raking in gravel to improve drainage if that is also a problem.
Turning the soil will also help to loosen the land and make planting a lot easier. This is also really good for your plants as they still need to be able to access air and water should flow easily around the roots. This can be a very tiring job so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time and take breaks!
Create Your Perfect Space
Now that the problem plants have been removed and the soil is ready, you can start planting again. Introducing raised beds and walkways will make it far easier for you to access your plants and keep your garden neater. Formal gardens often make use of raised beds and symmetrical designs to create the sense of containment.
Remember to make the most of the mature plants you saved and enjoy pairing them with new plants. Companion planting is a smart place to start as this will help you work out which plants are happy to sit together and, if you plan to plant crops, will optimise your harvests too. Though planting one crop at a time does work, there is a certain beauty to mixing various crops, including flowers, and the plants like this method too.
When you are planting, make sure that you continue to think about where each plant will thrive. One of the reasons that gardens become overgrown is that enthusiastic plants will take over the space they have. Putting these plants back into the same space is a good way to ensure that good growth continues – under your watchful eye, of course!
Making the most of your relationships with nature is a really important part of gardening. Some of the easiest gardens to maintain are those that nature takes care of with just a few tweaks from you. Self-seeding plants are a great example – you might not know where the next flower will appear but that’s part of the fun. And you can always remove or prune plants that get too big. That’s what seasonal maintenance is all about!