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How to Clear an Overgrown Garden Fast

Our overgrown garden was quite the eyesore! I'll show you how to clear an overgrown garden fast, and prevent the weeds from returning!

overgrown garden before and after

This overgrown garden has been the bane of my existence since we moved into this house. The original owner planted a huge bed of irises in this spot, but after years of neglect, it was completely overwhelmed by weeds. There were only two blooms in this entire space last year!

Now I'm finally cleaning up our overgrown garden and starting fresh! I've been putting off this chore forever, but with a few tools and a lot of digging, it's finally weed-free.

Here's how to clear an overgrown garden fast!

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Weeding by Hand

I started off weeding by hand, which in retrospect was way too time consuming! Every time the weather cooperated, I would work on a one foot wide strip, yanking out every green thing I could see.

But by the time I finished weeding the entire flower bed, new growth had popped up in its place! Ugh. Time to get out the power tools and try again!

weeds growing back after hand weeding

Use a String Trimmer First

It's much easier to see what you're dealing with after everything has been cut down to a few inches above the ground. Use a string trimmer (or weed whacker) to hack down all the weeds, then rake out all the cuttings.

using a string trimmer to cut down weeds in an overgrown flower bed

If you have a lot of plants with seed heads on them (like dandelions), cut those off by hand first. Then carefully move them to your weed pile away from the garden bed. You don't want those seeds planting themselves in your fresh soil and creating a new mess!

Use a Cultivator to Pull Up the Roots

After cutting back all the foliage, you're still left with roots. If you don't pull those out, everything will just regrow!

A soil cultivator with wide tines will easily loosen up all those roots, so you can rake them away. Wait until you've had a dry spell, so the soil is dry and light. Our soil is pretty sandy, so the cultivator churned through it easily.

cultivator attachment for clearing weed roots from overgrown garden

Use a metal garden rake to snag the roots and pull them out of the flower bed. Little pieces will decompose in the soil, but make sure to get all the bigger clumps so they don't regrow.

Add Compost to the Tilled Soil

All those weeds have depleted the nutrients from the soil. Spread compost over the area, and use the cultivator to mix it in.

mixing compost into cleared garden bed with a cultivator

The entire garden bed was tilled in less than half an hour! Try to do that with a shovel by hand! A quick raking evened out the soil so it was ready for the next step.

tilled garden bed after removing weeds

Prevent New Weeds

To prevent new weeds from sprouting in your newly tilled garden plot, put down thick landscaping fabric over the entire area. It will prevent weed seeds from taking root, while still allowing moisture to seep into the soil below.

Tack down the seams with landscape staples about a foot apart. You can see where I didn't stretch the fabric all the way to the front edge, and there's already new weeds growing there. Ugh!

landscape fabric over cleared garden bed

After you get your new plants in the ground, cover the entire area with mulch. This will hide the black fabric and keep the ground from drying out too quickly.

Add New Plants

Now that you have a clean slate, it's time to add some new plants! After deciding on a location for each one, cut an X in the landscape fabric with a utility knife and tuck each corner under before digging the hole.

I picked up this small Fuji cherry tree, called Little Twist, at my local garden center. It stays about six feet wide and tall, with a ball of zig zag branches at the top. It will provide some vertical interest on the left side of the garden bed without taking over the entire area and shading out the plants below.

Little Twist Fuji cherry tree

I cut a hole in the landscaping fabric three feet in from the upper left corner of the garden to give the tree room to grow. Then I dug a hole deep enough to cover the root ball, and dropped in the new tree.

cleared garden bed with landscape fabric

I also added a clumping bamboo to the area on the right along the fence. This type doesn't spread, so it will stay in one spot and provide a beautiful green screen that will drape down over the future pond.

I'm so relieved to finally have this overgrown garden cleared out and ready for new plants! What would you plant in this garden? Let me know in the comments below!

David Frandsen

Tuesday 18th of April 2023

Looks great. Good job