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Clearing a garden - advice please!

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We've just inherited an overgrown garden, which I'm thrilled about as it means I can finally get chickens :D BUT I now have the unenviable task of clearing it! It's a mixture of long grass, nettles, thistles, various weeds and the odd sapling.


I have pets and obviously want chickens and so am reluctant to use weedkillers. I've read about flame guns and was wondering if anyone had had any experience of them and if it had worked? Or do you have any other suggestions? Using carpet seems the easiest (I'm not afraid of hard work) but I can't imagine not having a garden for the next 2 years. :cry:

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Do you have an idea for any particular layout? If so, I would start by putting the hard landscaping (buildings, pathways, walls, slabbing) in first then work from there. If your garden is large then maybe you could start near the house and work slowly down the garden. It took me a year to do mine, mind you there was 70 foot of crazy paving :shock:


It is always easier to see where you are going when you have a plan in your head :D


Good luck!

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Sounds like it would be an idea to cut everything down first (unless there are things you really want) with a strimmer and then you will be able to see exactly what you have got and then start to place it like Charlotte said.....Ours was a total nightmare about a year ago and its now looking alright......


Will be so much easier though if you can see the whole garden without long grass and weeds......

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I agree, if it really is mainly weeds/grass then a strimmer is a good way to start, but if you think there are plants in there that you may want to keep, then you'll have to do it the hard way.


Why not strim some of it and cover with carpet/polythene, maybe the bits that you don't see from the kitchen; even if you only leave it till next year, it will be a lot easier to dig over. Pick one particular spot - the bit you see most of from the house - and concentrate on clearing that to begin with, and of course as Charlottechicken says, work out your hard landscaping first.


Of course, if you get an Eglu and some chickens, they will do a fantastic job of clearing the ground for you! :wink:

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Ours used to be terrible! We strimmed it had a bonfire, then covered the area with a tarpaulin. We then had it dug out and some decking put in. But if you are going to keep your chickens there, then I'd lay some flags and cover it with woodchip.

Burning the weeds is the fastest way after strimming.

Now I cut the weeds on my path in half with my hoe and they soon die off.


The biggest problem in our garden are the holly & laurel trees that the old lady planted a long time ago. They are too high. Hubby is saving up to buy a cherry picker then we can cut them to 8ft high and keep them under control!


Another solution to solving weed problems is to plonk a shed on them. My hubby is shed mad - so we bought summerhouses and a workshop shed! :roll:



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carpet possibly isn't the best solution,

the backing can fray into a tangled mess if it's woven and foam breaks up, dispersing into the soil and posing a future hazard to wildlife (and chickens).

Then, when the two years are up, you may well find it almost impossible to lift (as couch grass roots etc will have a tight hold on it) and really messy and cumbersome to get to the dump.


I would choose two areas to clear first. One (small bit) I would clear the old fashioned way, cut down and dig so that you can get some flowers in to encourage you! and one larger bit that I would strim and lay down a layer of cardboard and cover that with sheet of weed suppressant.

You can use tent pegs to pin it down or weigh it down with bricks and planters, then bung you garden table and chairs on it so it's not wasted while you figure out where to start next :wink:

You could even plant through the layers (check out the HDRA website for more info, look under 'no dig gardening')


I'm doing the same myself (we've built a deck and pergola on half of ours) but having moved here in January, we're six months ahead of you.


good luck! Tara :D

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i know how hard it is and it is such a daunting task. but very rewarding.

in the house we have been in 18 months and the one before i have had to gut and redo the garden, in the last house i got one of hubbies workmen for the day to help me clear it, it cost £50 for the day and loads of cups of tea and we cleared it. it needed levelling and it had been let before and they used it to dump all their rubish bags (dont know why the didnt leave it out for the bin men) and piles of old dog poo! it was on a slope so the garden was quite steep. we put a patio in and stepped it down to the garden so we could level it.

we strimmed levelled with loads of top soil seeded and fed, every year i used to seed and feed several times. we used to have a bowling green behind us and our lawn was always nicer than theirs. take care with some of the weed killers as plants including grass cant grow there for up to two years.

in the three years we were in there the garden became the major selling point of the house, it was lovely!

this time around i have done it myself (well i havent finished yet)

it was easier to clear but alot larger and i still have another garden to do next summer for the windmill.

i did try the carpet underlay in some places before i put bark down on the borders and it worked well and it wasnt down long but it did look hideous!

if you decide on borders you could strim, edge the borders lay ground cover and bark. its easy to cut holes for plants later and of course have a nice area in the bark for an eglu (or two!!). you could lay turf for a quicker (but more expensive) result. also if you have kiddies make a few raised beds with the solid logg lawn edgers. i made a couple of triangular ones in my garden and the kids loved planting and seeding (and now pulling everything up and feeding it to the chickens!!!)

if you have a large garden, fence a bit off at the back and call it your wildlife garden and do it next year then it will be a less daunting task. we fenced ours into two so the windmill had a seperate garden (building site!!) it was easier to deal with and safer for the kids.

if you live near me i would come and help. it is really rewarding!!

anyway i am off now to get some more bark for my borders.

good luck!

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