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How to transform a neglected garden


1st Jan 2015 Home & Garden

How to transform a neglected garden

Neglected gardens can be daunting just to gaze upon, the thought of tackling the overgrown mass of weeds and grass! Not to worry, help is at hand!

There are many reasons why a garden can become neglected. Whatever the cause, if you’re faced with the daunting prospect of transforming a garden that is more reminiscent of the Amazon jungle than Kew Gardens, you may be forgiven for feeling out of your depth when confronted by weed-ridden borders, overgrown hedges and knee-length lawns. However, with patience, effort and a systematic approach, you can initiate eye-catching improvements that are sure to turn the neighbours’ heads.


Take it step-by-step

Before you even reach for your tools, accept that transforming a garden wilderness into an aesthetically pleasing landscape is going to take time – and lots of it. Dispel any notions of performing miracles in time to enjoy the summer evenings with a glass of wine, at least not if you believe you can turn the whole garden upside down by then. A step-by-step approach, dividing the land into manageable sections, will foster a sense of achievement and recognisable progress that will spur you on. Decide whether you would rather start close to your home, to improve the view from the windows, or near the roadside, to rectify the loss of kerb appeal.


Prune everything in sight

Bushes and shrubs should be pruned thoroughly, even if they appear to have little life left. Not only will you be pleasantly surprised just how quickly you can restore the sense of space in your garden, but you may also encourage some plants to revive and grow more healthily in future. Unkempt and overgrown hedges can really spoil the boundary lines of a garden, so cut these back using a hedge trimmer for speed and a cleaner cut. By pruning bushes, shrubs and hedges, you will immediately inject a sense of care and nurture into the garden, even if much work remains.


View trees as a feature

It may be tempting to completely remove trees, especially if they are wildly overgrown and block out sunlight as a result. However, remember that a well-maintained tree can really benefit the appearance of any garden, as well as being a perfect habitat for a range of wildlife. Also, trees may have preservation orders to prevent them from being felled, so check with the planning department of your local authority. A tree surgeon registered with the Arboricultural Association or the local tree experts should be engaged to carry out improvement work on any tree.


Give emphasis to boundaries and lines

If a garden is wildly overgrown, the chances are the boundaries won’t have been properly maintained either, yet fences and panels in good condition can make a dramatic difference to the aesthetics of any garden. Rotten fences should be renewed and a fresh coat of creosote applied to all wooden boundaries (not forgetting to paint the concrete posts, if you have these, for a striking effect).

Installing edging to borders and lawns can really accentuate the lines in any garden and a variety of products at a range of prices is readily available. Wooden log roll, for example, while being the more expensive option for edging, is often long-lasting and entirely natural in appearance.


Revive the lawns

The British may be obsessed with grass, but a manicured lawn can transform a neglected garden. Cut the grass initially with a strimmer, as close to a length that can be mowed as possible, water it and leave for a few days (preferably in warm weather). Next, cut it with a conventional lawnmower and scarify the entire lawn to remove all weeds (the lawn may look dreadful at this point). Apply a suitable fertilizer, being careful to follow the instructions carefully. In time, you’ll have a healthy, attractive lawn, free from weeds and moss, which will be a valuable feature in your garden.

Transforming a wilderness takes time and patience, especially if you have in mind the grand designs of Capability Brown. Irrespective of the time it takes, restoring a garden to its proper condition is as rewarding as it is enjoyable and well-worth every ounce of effort.


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