Let us guess.
The house you live in today has a small garden, but until now you hadn't paid too much attention to it.
Until now, because for a while you have entered the gardening workshop and decided to bring back to life that space you had wasted.
The problem is, you don't know where to start.
All you see is a weed-filled terrain, a lawn that grows in pieces and some scattered shrubs. Something that's a long way from the idea of a garden in your head.
But the good thing is that gardens, even the most abandoned, are really grateful.
With a little bit of care it is possible to give them back all their greenness
And that's what we're going to tell you about in this post, in which we are explaining how to recover an abandoned garden step by step.
You'll see how at the end you're not even going to recognize it.
How to recover an abandoned garden in X steps (+1 extra)
The case we explained to you at the beginning is one of the most common. But there are many other reasons why you may need to fix a garden in a state of abandonment:
- You have recently purchased a house and the previous owners had not taken care of the plants.
- You have a second residence that you barely visit (and you haven't planted low-maintenance plants).
- During the summer you have been away and when you returned to your main residence you found that the garden was out of control.
Each case is different, and will require specific care depending on the level of abandonment.
That's why what we're going to explain here are the basic guidelines for fixing any abandoned garden, so that you can then adapt them to your specific case.
1. Clean up the ground
When we stop looking after a garden, opportunistic species soon take advantage of the terrain.
We mean all kinds of weeds. Invasive plants that germinate very quickly and that steal nutrients and water from those around them.
That's why the first thing we have to do is eliminating them.
In the event that they have proliferated a lot, the easiest thing is to use a herbicide.
In addition, it is important that you rake well all the terrain to remove the remains of dried plants and leaves, which when rotting become a breeding ground for fungi.
Don't worry about raking too hard in grassy areas. In many cases, you'll even have to scarify the entire terrain to decompact the roots (we'll see this later in this same post).
2. Prune trees and shrubs
Once we have cleared the soil, the following are the highest species.
Shrubs and trees are the species that best resist the lack of care. Therefore, in gardens abandoned for a long time it is common that they have grown uncontrolled and are invading areas that do not correspond to them.
So the next step is to prune them.
This will not only give us more space to work and limit their growth, but it is also important to eliminate the sick branches.
In case there are palm trees, we will also prune them at this point.
3. Check if pests have proliferated
In all likelihood, the lack of phytosanitary products will have made fungi and parasites (aphids, mites, piglets) install in your plants.
It is very important that you review them all thoroughly to look for those pests and eliminate them as soon as possible.
In most cases it will be sufficient to use some systemic insecticide or fungicide, depending on the type of pest that is affecting your plants.
However, the most serious cases, in which the plant can no longer be saved, require rooting and changing soil. This will prevent new plants you sow from being affected by the same pest or disease.
4. Bring the lawn back to life
This is the most complex part of the job.
Keep in mind that the lawn is a very large plant, and also requires a number of specific care.
When fixing the lawn of an abandoned garden, we must:
- Mowing: After a time of abandonment, the leaves of the lawn are likely to have grown several centimeters. To work well the terrain we must mow at low altitude.
- Decompact the floor: The following is to check if the floor is compacted. You can do this by nailing a spike or rake to the ground. If you resist a lot, it means you have to scarify it and aerate it so that oxygen and water reach the roots of the lawn.
- Top dressing: Top dressing is a mixture of fine sand and mulch that nourishes the lawn and prevents compaction. In this other post we talk to you more about the process.
- Reseed: over time it is normal that bald spots have appeared along the lawn. Once you've prescribed it, it's time to sow new seeds.
- Fertilize: Finally, a layer of fertilizer followed by a deep irrigation will help the seeds germinate and the grass to grow back with renewed forces.
This process (especially the decompactation part) is aggressive for the lawn, but it is the best way to heal it and restore its vigour.
5. Check irrigation status
In the event that an irrigation system is installed, it is important that you check all points of the circuit, including:
- The programmer: if it works, if it is properly configured...
- Pipes: Somewhere may have been damaged and this may result in runoff (flooding).
- Sprinklers and their nozzles: check if they are broken or clogged, in case you had to replace any parts or change it completely.
Once this is done, you could already terminate the basic garden arrangement. But we still have one more step left.
Extra: What if I want to redesign my garden?
When we are called to work with a garden in a state of abandonment, many of our clients also take advantage to reform it.
In many cases, the plants that had been planted no longer work and there are many areas of the terrain that are discovered, so it's a good time to redesign it whole.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Design starts at the table
The first thing is to draw the plan on the paper of the type of garden you intend to create.
And that means a lot more than choosing one species or another.
To get started, we have to define different areas within the garden. The options are endless: a floral massif, an open lawn space to put the furniture, a corner made with gravel, a se... It is also important to decide whether we are going to separate them with natural, artificial blurs or if we are going to make another type of transition.
Of course, we can also do without the lawn and opt for other options that consume less water, such as the grass.
It is also essential to define different paths to travel throughout the garden space, because remember that excessive trampling of the lawn can end up damaging the leaves and contributing to the soil compacting.
What we do when we design the garden for a client is create a 3D model so that that person gets an idea of the final result before starting the job.
2. Before planting, renew the soil
The soil we find when starting to work in a garden is not always the most suitable.
For example, it may be very clayey, which makes it easy to wrap (which, as you know, contributes to the appearance of fungi in the roots).
So before we start working we check the soil type and if necessary renew it with a more appropriate mix.
About land types and how to choose your own we talk to you
3. Choose the plants you will use
When choosing the species you want to use in your garden there are many criteria.
What we always recommend is that you opt for native species in your area, which are climate-adapted to have a more sustainable garden (which requires less water and maintenance).
4. Install an automatic irrigation system
Although not mandatory, the installation of an automatic irrigation is the most recommended to save water.
With this system you make sure that your plants receive the right amount of water, which is more difficult to control when watering with hoses.
In addition, with a programmer you can be carefree, because the system will continue to work even if you are not at home.
Need help fixing your abandoned garden?
You've already seen that bringing your garden back to life can be a laborious process. But the result of seeing him again brimming with life makes the effort worthwhile.
In this guide we've explained the basic steps you need to know to fix yours.
However, if you need it, we can give you a hand.
In the more than 30 years that we have been open we have designed and arranged a multitude of gardens, so we know well the steps to bring to reality that idea that you have in your head.
If you want us to help you, just click here and contact us.
Choosing the right plants and bringing your garden back to life is our specialty.