Front Garden help required! (long)

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Greenfingered MoneySaving
5 replies 716 views
Welsh_TotsterWelsh_Totster Forumite
527 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Greenfingered MoneySaving
I know that you MS gardeners are a great source of info so thats why I thought I'd ask you some Q's about my front garden as I need help!:D

My front garden is split into two beds, both the width of the house with a path inbetween them. The bottom front bed is about 20" wide and about 4" deep and flat. It had a large Hydrangea in the corner which I like and used to have a Willow tree and Beech tree which Ive recently had chopped down, the bed is generally overgrown but has grape hyacinths, tulips and bluebells growing in it. Also Ive noticed this week several brambles shooting up too.

The path is about 2ft wide, then there is a 3ft wall and the next baed is raised as there are 6 steps up to the house. The raised bed is sloped, also has tulips and grape hyacinths in it and lots of weeds. It also has some mid sized rockery type rocks in it which are useful and a couple of stumps of previous bushes that have long been chopped down. the bed is again about 20" wide by about 3-4" deep.

The soil is claggy clay. I made a start a couple of weeks ago weeding and trying to make the soil good, by hand it took 3 1/2 hours to do a piece about 1/2 metre square. I dug it out with my trowel and hand fork, broke it up a bit, riddled it to get rid of solid chunks (and glass and rocks), I dug in sharp sand, some home made compost and a bit of farmyeard manure. The small patch Ive donw looks great and the soil is now a nice crumbly texture.

If I carry on at the rate Im going by hand, even though its thorough, I'll still be doing the garden in 5 years time! Now that I have seen brambles shooting I really want to crack on and clear it out.

So my question is, what is the best way of blitzing it? I need to abolish the brambles for a start, I dont mind sacrificing the tulips, bluebells and grape hyacinths if I have to. If I can save them that its a bonus.

Can I just get my husband and his large garden fork and size 12's to dig the whole thing over or is there an easier / alternative way?

Id like to plant it all up with my ornamental grasses, of which I have quite a few in tubs that we brought with us when we moved in 2 months ago, it would be a low maintenance front garden Im striving for as the back garden is 60" by 30" and more than enough work to keep me occupied. The Hydrangea in the corner would be staying but everything else would be cleared out to create a blank canvass.

I want the front to look clean and tidy and something to be proud of, not the mess its in now. Any suggestions would be welcomed.

MS gardeners, I need guidance! :D


  • ds1980ds1980 Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    Unfortunately the way youve been doing is the best and most thorough way.

    Dig up the bulbs en mass with a fork and spade you can always replant them. You can buy new ones if you need to for peanuts.

    If your happy to start from scratch dig as far down as you can to get the brambles and perhaps use some weedkiller. Add all the stuff youve been adding and persevere.

    Once done the grasses should keep the weeds away but wait until the weedkiller has washed through depending which one you use.

    No hard and fast rule but patience will win in the end. I have no gadgets just hard work and enthusiasm.
  • knithrynknithryn Forumite
    233 Posts
    Keep on doing what you stared. It will take time, but when it is done you will have very little 'work' to do in those beds for years to come.
    If you skimp on it now, you really will spend the next five years fighting with it and it will never look satisfactory for long as the deeper rooted weeds will just keep coming back.
    If necessary get a big plant pot full of soil/compost and put the bulbs into that, just to keep them ticking over for a few weeks until you have enough space to replant them.
  • conradmumconradmum Forumite
    5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    If you'd like to save the tulips, you could wait another four weeks or so until they've died down, then dig them out and keep the bulbs for replanting. Then the quickest way would be to dig the whole bed over with a fork, as deep as you can go and take out everything else. You might still get the brambles reshooting, depending on how established they are. Alternatively, once the tulips are out, you could spray the lot with Roundup, being careful not to get any on the hydrangea. This will take about three weeks to work properly but should kill everything completely.

    After doing either of these you could dig in sand or compost or whatever you have to break up the soil a bit. If you aren't bothered about saving anything but the hydrangea, you could dig it all out now. It doesn't need to be done perfectly, and in fact with clay it'll be much easier to do now than later in the year when it starts to dry out and harden up a bit.

    I agree that if you go on at your current pace the weeds will catch up with you as you go along, especially at this time of year.
  • westieawestiea Forumite
    430 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I agree with posters and greatly admire you - very hard work but your grasses will love you!
    You could consider hiring a mini digger for the lower bed about £60 a day not sure if you could also hire a ramp (metal) to access the top bed? If you are not organic consider using Root Out (although i have just seen that the bloody EU have withdrawn it as a herbicide - it is still sold as a compost accelerateor - go figure!!) i have used it for years - it is still the best for really tough weeds.
    Good luck and watch that back!!!
    Greyer by the minute - Older by the hour - Wiser by the day
  • >I'll still be doing the garden in 5 years time! <

    Glyphosate the lot, wait few weeks then dig out top 15cm and replace with a mixture of loam and council compost. Weed membrane, then cover with gravel and start planting through the membrane.

    Grasses, sedums, bergenia, spurge, geraniums, hebe, iris, day lily, verbascum etc.
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