overgrown garden with tools and people working

How to clear a overgrown garden

Every garden is unique, especially when it’s overgrown. Yours might have distinct levels that are hard to distinguish or winter-flowering shrubs overtaken by brambles. Regardless of the specifics, a systematic approach can help you reclaim your garden space. This guide will help you understand where to start and the essential steps involved in clearing an overgrown garden.

Key Takeaways

  • Start by assessing your garden to identify the main areas that need attention.
  • Gather the right tools including shears, gloves, a rake, and a wheelbarrow.
  • Create a detailed plan to tackle different sections of the garden systematically.
  • Clear pathways first by trimming overgrown plants, removing weeds, and cleaning up debris.
  • Manage garden waste effectively by composting green waste and disposing of non-compostable materials properly.

Getting Started

overgrown garden with tools and people starting to clear it

Assessing the Garden

Before we dive into the hard work, we need to take a good look at the garden. Assessing the garden helps us understand what we’re dealing with. Are there large trees that need trimming? Is the lawn completely overrun with weeds? By identifying the main issues, we can prioritize our tasks and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Gathering the Right Tools

Having the right tools can make a world of difference. We should gather essentials like pruning shears, a lawnmower, and a wheelbarrow. For tougher jobs, we might need a chainsaw or a hedge trimmer. Investing in quality tools can save us time and effort in the long run.

Creating a Plan

Once we know what we’re up against and have our tools ready, it’s time to create a plan. This involves setting realistic goals and breaking down the work into manageable steps. We can start with the most critical areas and gradually work our way through the garden. Remember, rejuvenation pruning is a drastic method of reclaiming overgrown gardens, but it can lead to more compact growth and a healthier garden overall.

Taking the time to plan and prepare will make the process of recovering an overgrown garden much smoother and more enjoyable.

Clearing the Pathways

overgrown garden pathway

Clearing the pathways in an overgrown garden is a crucial step to make the space navigable and safe. Let’s dive into the steps we need to take to achieve this.

Trimming Overgrown Plants

First, we need to trim back any overgrown plants that are encroaching on the pathways. This includes cutting back bushes, hedges, and any other plants that have grown too large. Fallen branches not only create obstacles but can also pose safety hazards. Begin by clearing smaller branches manually using pruning shears or a small saw.

Removing Weeds

Next, we tackle the weeds. Weeds can quickly take over pathways, making them difficult to walk on. Use a hoe or a weed puller to remove them from the roots. For stubborn weeds, consider using a natural weed killer. Remember, a systematic approach is best for dealing with an overgrown garden.

Cleaning Pathways

Finally, we need to clean the pathways. This involves sweeping away debris, fallen leaves, and any other rubbish lying around. If the pathways are paved, we might need to scrub them to remove moss and dirt. For gravel paths, raking will help to even out the surface and remove any unwanted materials.

Clearing the pathways not only makes the garden look better but also ensures that we can move around safely and easily.

Tackling Large Shrubs

overgrown garden with large shrubs

Pruning Techniques

When it comes to pruning large shrubs, we need to start by using our secateurs to cut back any overgrown branches in small sections. This makes them more manageable. If we want to remove a whole shrub, we should dig around it using a spade and push it out from underneath its roots, ensuring none are left behind. Before cutting down any trees, however, be sure to double-check with your local authority for permission as you could get into some trouble for doing so without it.

Cutting Back Overgrowth

To tackle overgrowth, we should first identify the shrubs we want to keep and those we don’t. For the ones we don’t want, we can cut them off close to the soil and then pull out the roots. For the shrubs we want to keep, we should remove any broken branches by cutting them close to the trunk or main stem. This will help in maintaining a tidy garden.

Shaping the Shrubs

Once we’ve cleared the overgrowth, it’s time to shape the shrubs. The progress we’ve made in our overgrown garden should be very clear to see. The next step is to cut trees and shrubs into shape, pruning and thinning them. This will not only make the garden look neat but also promote healthy growth.

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Dealing with Trees

overgrown garden with trees

When it comes to trimming tree branches, we need to be cautious and strategic. Using your secateurs, start cutting back any overgrown branches in small sections to make them more manageable. It’s probably a selling point to have well-maintained trees, so take your time. Before cutting down any trees, however, be sure to double-check with your local authority for permission as you could get into some trouble for doing so without it.

Removing deadwood is essential for maintaining the health of your trees. Look for any broken branches and cut them close to the trunk or main stem. This not only helps the tree but also makes your garden look tidier. If you find any diseased branches, remove them immediately to prevent the disease from spreading.

Maintaining tree health involves regular inspections and timely interventions. Make sure to water your trees during dry spells and apply mulch around the base to retain moisture. Pruning should be done annually to encourage new growth and remove any dead or diseased wood. If you’re unsure about any step, don’t hesitate to consult a professional.

Taming an overgrown garden sometimes calls for removing old and dying trees. This especially applies to diseased fruit trees that no longer produce good fruit, due to failed annual pruning and overall neglect.

Managing Garden Waste

overgrown garden with garden waste

Organizing Debris

Once we’ve tackled the major overgrowth, it’s time to organize the debris. Start by sorting out the rubbish from the green waste. Clear out rubbish and weeds like broken garden features, damaged plastic rainwater barrels, and rusty tools. This will make the next steps much easier.

Composting Green Waste

To make things a little easier for yourself, why not chip the prunings as soon as you cut them and keep them in a large garden sack for use the next day? The garden shredder is great for cutting back the effort it takes to chop-up. Double-shred any wooden waste for compost and retain as much wood chippings as possible as this makes fantastic mulch.

Disposing of Non-Compostable Waste

For non-compostable waste, you’ll need to dispose of it properly. Use bigger and thicker waste bags to avoid rips from brambles. Also, thick gloves should be used – welding ones, for example, as they protect your forearm as well.

When dealing with an overgrown garden, the waste bags of choice should be bigger and thicker, so they don’t rip from brambles. This saves time as well.


Clearing an overgrown garden might seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach and tools, it can be a rewarding experience. By assessing your garden, gathering the necessary tools, and creating a solid plan, you set the stage for success. Tackling overgrown plants, shrubs, and trees systematically ensures that you bring order back to your green space. Don’t forget to manage the garden waste responsibly, whether through composting or proper disposal. With patience and persistence, your garden will transform from a wild jungle into a beautiful, manageable oasis. Happy gardening!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I start clearing an overgrown garden?

Begin by assessing the garden to understand the extent of overgrowth. Gather the necessary tools such as gloves, pruners, shears, and a wheelbarrow. Create a plan to tackle different areas systematically.

What tools are essential for clearing an overgrown garden?

Essential tools include gloves, pruners, shears, a string trimmer, a cultivator, a wheelbarrow, and composting bins. These tools will help you manage different types of overgrowth effectively.

How can I effectively remove weeds from my garden?

Weeding by hand is effective for small areas. For larger areas, use a string trimmer to cut down weeds first, then use a cultivator to pull up the roots. Adding compost to the tilled soil can help prevent new weeds from growing.

What should I do with the garden waste?

Organize the debris into compostable and non-compostable piles. Compost green waste like leaves and grass clippings. Dispose of non-compostable waste according to local regulations.

How do I deal with large shrubs and trees?

For large shrubs, use pruning techniques to cut back overgrowth and shape the shrubs. For trees, trim branches, remove deadwood, and ensure the tree’s health is maintained by following proper care practices.

Can I prevent my garden from becoming overgrown again?

Yes, regular maintenance is key. Regularly trim plants, remove weeds, and clear debris. Adding mulch to garden beds can help suppress weed growth and retain soil moisture, making future maintenance easier.