- Your soil: If it is terrible, buy in good quality topsoil from a local
source. Reject soil that is dusty, stony, weedy, wet, or “blue” (which
is what happens when the air has been squeezed out). Before the soil is
unloaded from the truck, check that the pH is close to your own garden’s
- Establish your priorities: Once the plan is complete, decide which elements to establish first. It may be more practical to install a patio, a garden shed, and a compost bin before a pond and fountain.
- Think before you act: Beneath some neglected gardens are treasures
waiting to be revealed.
- Weeding: On a small scale, you can hand-weed; if the problem is
overwhelming, using chemical weedkillers may be the only option. For an
organic approach, clear the area with a string trimmer, then cover it
with light-excluding tarpaulin or old carpet (this can take a few months
- A clean sweep: If progressive renovation is out of the question,
perhaps the best option is to think of the garden as “new” and consider
the steps above.
- Assess the style: Reconstructing an established garden can be hard, but putting your own personality on a place is part of the experience of developing and enjoying a garden.
- Choose what to keep: Some features may be there for a good reason. A
mature tree might conceal a distant high-rise or screen your yard from
the neighbors’ windows, so consider the existing features with care.
- Assess the utilities and hard landscaping: Gardens must be practical as well as beautiful. Take time to make sure you are not removing something you need. Conversely, is the garden missing something you consider essential, like an outdoor faucet or space for a grill?