How to Renovate a garden

Ten point plan for Garden Renovation :Garden makeover

Here is a ten-point program for renovating a neglected garden

1 Survey garden and decide which plants to keep and which to dig up and discard, either because disliked, badly damaged, or disease-ridden

2 Make plan on paper of beds, borders and other features, and mark on it plants to be retained

3 Determine sunny spots, shady spots, cold, frost-pockets, and warm sheltered areas, windy positions

4 Cut back or cut down overĀ¬ grown vegetation on lawns, in kitchen garden, beds and bor- ders, etc., with grass-hook and secateurs or with auto-scythe. Dispatch material to compost heap or bonfire

5 Assess soil type in various parts of garden, and test for acidity or alkalinity

6 Clear rubbish, e.g., stones, bricks, wire-netting, bottles, tins, etc.

7 Remove unwanted trees, shrubs and other plants

8 Prune overgrown shrubs, roses, trees and fruit bushes; cut back and disentangle climbers

9 Mow turf with blades set high

10 Dig and weed beds, borders, rock gardens and so on

Once this preliminary clearing has been done, you can make a new plan to your own design, incorporating existing features as required. Note that in the general clearing work, it is usually preferable to deal with the garden in sections, and clean up one at a time, otherwise it takes very much longer.

Renovation of an old neglected garden

Restoring an old and neglected garden can be as formidable a task as starting afresh with a new building plot. The first thing to do is to look at the ground and assess the site. In fact, similarities will be found between a neglected garden and a new building plot; there may not be so much rubbish in a neglected garden, but the vegetation (although probably of a different nature) could easily be growing in a similar tangled muddle.

A partial solution is to make a path about 1.2-1.5 m (4-5 ft) wide, between a hedge and border, so that any border plants you choose to leave in place will get more light and air. In this way, they will become more robust and so better able to resist or compete with any roots still running into the bed. If possible, the path should be a grass one, as this will fit more harmoniously into the general scene.

Another and better solution is to cut new island beds into the central lawn in positions where they are least likely to be exposed to these adverse conditions.

Some people say that the best thing to do with a neglected garden is to scrap everything and start again, but this is rather drastic, particularly as new stock is so expensive and there is nearly always much in the garden that can be saved and used to advantage. A better approach may be to begin by asking two vital questions:
(1) Are the trees or shrubs in the right position?
(2) If not, should they be discarded or should the new
garden be designed round them?

Old hedges are nearly always unruly – too high and too wide – and they are candidates for drastic treatment. Here, again, some advice from a local expert may be helpful, but Quickthorn, Cotoneaster simonsii and Privet will benefit from being cut almost to the ground.