Nobody likes tackling a big job, they are scary and not to be trusted. So… How do you deal with them?…. You don’t.
Confused? Allow me to explain.
As a guy who often walks into vacated council properties and told to take the garden over and clean it up, many of them will look something like this.
So… Totally overgrown. A garden like this is very likely to make many people carp themselves, turn about, walk out and never look back. If they did move into the house with this garden they would probably bring someone in and pay them to do it. Fair enough if that’s what you want and can afford it… But not everyone can afford it and will likely find this kind of thing daunting.
FEAR NOT!!!! Take a moment, get the kettle on (I’ll take a Tea with 2 sugars, thanks!) and stop panicking. It’s not as bad as you may think!
When you take on a *ahem* “Big Job” like this you have to break it down. A big job is only a collection of small jobs that can all be done in time, and small jobs can be done with a lot less effort than you may think!
First things first… You will have to get in there and have a scout about. What do you have? Is there a pond in there? A garage or shed? Any stone borders or paths? What about rubbish, building materials or anything that will damage your tools or, even more importantly, you.
With any project of this size you have got to do your work in steps. This part is a lot more important than you may realise. Thinking of it as one job will just put you off. Break it down into manageable parts.
Before you start with any actual gardening, remove any major rubbish or detritus that could hurt you. You want to free up the ability to just get in there as soon as you can with some machinery and make a visible dent. Any good stones or bricks may be kept. They may be useful later!
If you are planning at some point to have a compost heap then NOW is the time to consider where you are going to put it. Being willing to have a compost heap will save you a LOT of time, effort and potential cost because none of the grass clippings and tree/bush prunings need to leave your garden.
Note that if you live in the UK many refuse sites now charge to dump certain items. In the council I work for you have to PAY to have your green waste taken away. Beware!
OK… So now that we have the obvious rubbish out the way we are actually going to do some gardening.
Set your mower to the highest setting and cut as much of the lawn as you can.
You will need to do one of two things here. Either collect the cuttings in the mower box or rake them up when you are done. Do not leave them on the ground. It may be easier to let them fall now but it will not help you later. Get the clippings into the compost heap, wherever you decided to place it, or into bags/a bin to get it away.
If you encounter a tree sapling or a shrub don’t bother trying to deal with it now, mow around it. The same goes for very large clump of weeds. We can come back to these later. If you are strimming or brush cutting then blitz everything and rake it up.
What we need to do is get on top of the grass and open up some space. The job you are doing now is VERY physically demanding. Cutting long grass is very time consuming and tiring.
If you used a mower you next have 2 choices. You can cut the grass again now on a lower setting (No less than half height) or leave it for a few days and get on with other jobs in the meantime. Whichever is up to you. You will still need to mow in a week anyway.
About those other jobs… You know those saplings and big weeds you mowed around? Now is the time to get those up and out. Get out your spade and lift them. Try not to dig big holes in the ground. If you do then turn over a small area at the back of the garden and use that soil to fill any holes.
At this point you should have a very basic garden… That is, you have an open area without clutter and some kind of boundary. If nothing else you now have a working area you can use to do all the other jobs coming up. Not only that but you can SEE that you have done something major.
You can now also plan your next few jobs. Take a rest, you have deserved it! I will talk more in my next blog.