Landscaping Tips for Restoring a Neglected Garden

neglected garden

Landscaping Tips – Restoring the Neglected Garden

Not everyone can begin from the beginning. You may be re-planning an already established garden, trying to restore order to one which has been very neglected, or  like I once did, tried to make a garden from what was once a little paddock orchard and neglected hen-run.

From experience, I can tell you that your aim here should be to create space first so that you have room to work. But do not rush this, for you may be sorry later. One of my best landscaping tips would be to remind you that in saving an established tree, you span the years it would take to plant your own and see it come to maturity.

In my own case, I had a great area of grass, not good lawn but a potential lawn, and by cutting it I was presented with a more than normal quantity of grass mowings. By this time I had planned what areas were eventually to be planted, and I decided to let the grass help me in my work. For instance, my wife and I needed a kitchen garden, and once the area was chosen, the sparse grass and weeds that grew there were never collected but allowed to lie and rot where they fell. Here they stayed until the day came when we rotavated the plot. The deposits of vegetation on top of the “turf” meant that successive mowings had given the patch of soil a deep humus content. Now vegetables and fruit grow rich and lush.

By letting the grass lie in certain other places among newly planted trees, for example, we also relieved ourselves of the necessity of raking or collecting the mowings. Spare-minute gardeners need to be appreciative of what tasks can be left undone. We told ourselves that it would take 10 years of weekends (the only time we then had to spare) to achieve the effect we wanted and this proved to be the case.

Although we had drawn up a plan for a rose garden and a grey border in order to transform our neglected garden, the actual beds were not cut until we felt sure we could fit their cultivation into our routine. We just continued to pass the lawn mower over the area where these features would eventually be. The contents of the grass box were merely emptied on top of the growing grass, the low mound following the shape of the border we planned to make. The edges of the mound were kept compact and neat. When the grass was cut again, by which time the height of the mound had sunk considerably, more mowings were added. Soon, of course, the growing grass below was killed. Because the grass beyond the borders had been continually mowed, we were able to cut through it easily with a spade. This we did, following the outline of the border and throwing the turves on top of the mound. Later, these were covered with more mowings to suppress the grass and to reduce all to humusy soil. Meanwhile, we fell into the routine of using edging shears on the grass near the border to ensure that the lawn grass was kept from creeping into the part we were going to plant.

Discovering landscaping tips saved us an awful lot of time and work. The important point was that at the beginning, every one of our borders in our neglected garden was very narrow. Having defined the area, we had to fill it with plants. Because time was so limited, it was more practical to plant a narrow space than a wide one. As both time and plants became available, the borders were easily widened.

One of my best landscaping tips for restoring a neglected garden, from the psychological as well as the practical viewpoint, is to advise you that it is best to clear the ground gradually from the house to the boundaries in your neglected garden rather than the other way round.

Winter Pruning of Apples and Pears

As I said above, we inherited a very neglected garden and took over a small paddock and hen-run.  In this paddock were apple and pear trees too.

Bushes, standards and half standards should be pruned so as to keep the centre of the tree open and enable light and air to get to it. Bushes can be gradually trained into a goblet shape with an open centre. Follow always the golden rule of winter pruning: prune hard to get strong growth, prune lightly to discourage growth. Always make a horizontal cut about one eighth of an inch above a bud which, for main branches should always point away from the tree. Remove all strong growths going into the centre. Professional growers train youngsters to prune “so you can throw your hat through the tree.”

Dwarf pyramids should have a central stem with branches radiating in a natural spiral — like a pyramid or triangle. Aim always to maintain this shape.

Cordons are planted and tied to canes or supporting wires at an angle of 45 degrees. Plant rows running north and south. When leaders reach the top wire, the entire cordon can be loosened and lowered slightly, still keeping them parallel. Tip prune leader by about one third each winter and thin spurs. For cordons, summer pruning is more important.


Like all diseases, human and horticultural, it is helpful to attack them in the early stages. For this reason, winter fruit washes of tar oil or some proprietary substance are the most important. These washes should be thorough, drenching the trees, and should be carried out while the trees are dormant, between the beginning of December and the end of January. Tar oil will kill most aphid eggs, will clear bark of moss and lichen and remove many loose pieces of bark which harbour the pests. (It is also well worth spraying ornamental fruits such as Prunus, including cherries, amelanchier and pyrus).

Good commercial growers spray more or less fortnightly from about March to July. We haven’t time for this, but we should watch development and certainly spray again before bud burst and when the buds are just beginning to show colour. When the blossoms are actually open, the trees should be left severely alone both to save the lives of bees and other helpful pollinating insects and to avoid making the flowers distasteful to the bees. A further spray should be applied after petal fall.

There are many individual pests and diseases which can cause trouble in fruit. The main preventions and the main cures are contained in the winter tar oil washes and in spraying with Burgundy or Bordeaux mixtures or other copper or sulphur fungicides.

Read more landscaping tips about how to cope with and restore a neglected garden

16. October 2010 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Gardening Ideas, Neglected Gardens | Tags: , | Comments Off on Landscaping Tips for Restoring a Neglected Garden


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