You have moved into your new home and the garden is abandoned? You have just acquired – or are being loaned – a piece of fallow land that you want to clean up and turn into a garden? We explain how to proceed.
Brushing and weeding
Winter is the ideal time to clean up a fallow land for an ornamental or vegetable garden. Take advantage of the bad season to brush, weed and prepare the soil before planting or seeding in the spring. Above all, take a look at your land. The nature of the wild plants that grow spontaneously in it will tell you about the nature of the soil (even if it means refining the diagnosis by a soil analysis).
Next, identify the plants you wish to preserve: some large trees or shrubs planted by previous owners, or of wild origin, can be preserved and will save you from starting from scratch: consider that it takes years, even decades, to obtain a beautiful tree from a young plant!
So don’t sacrifice the existing plants too quickly and take the time to observe and reflect, by already creating a garden plan that will allow you to see more clearly and rationalize the removals.
Trees and large shrubs
To remove trees that are troublesome (maple, ash, willow, locust, …) as well as the most imposing shrubs (hawthorn, buddleia, blackthorn, elderberry, …) it will be necessary to use a chainsaw. Proceed step by step by first cutting the main branches and then by cutting the trunks in sections. To eradicate the stumps, use a crowbar and a pickaxe, this combination is sufficient for small stumps.
For larger stumps, you will need a hand hoist or mini-excavator; you can also use a stump grinder, a fairly radical tool for larger trees. You can also decide to keep the tree stump if, of course, it doesn’t interfere.
This part of the work is not obvious to everyone and the tools used are not always within everyone’s reach. If you wish to subcontract this step, do not hesitate to contact us, our team of professionals is available to carry out all the work you need.
The brambles are a real ordeal, these lianas with sharp thorns are quickly invading and form inextricable thickets. It is very hard to get rid of them because they tend to multiply by layering and the slightest residue of branch or root brings back the bramble that we no longer want.
First of all we remind you that you must be very careful with stones that are often hidden by vegetation. When you use a tool like the ones we will mention below, don’t forget that a simple stone is enough to cause an accident or else considerably damage the blades of your cutting tools.
Start by using the blade trimmer, which is more efficient on brambles than the wire trimmer but much more dangerous. Once the wire trimmer has been used, remove the waste little by little by burning it or taking it to the garbage dump. To properly eradicate brambles, several passes of the trimmer are necessary and this at intervals of several weeks because regrowth is inevitable.
We have discovered that cutting the brambles at ground level and several times gradually exhausted the plant and eventually came to an end. We have also found that some people advise the use of a foliar herbicide to eradicate the bramble, something we strongly advise against for simple and obvious reasons.
Now if the height of your vegetation allows you to do so and if you do not have brambles on your land, a passage of a shredder can cut the plants, reduce them to a shredded state in a single operation.
You can also leave the shredded material in place, so you can feed the soil at the same time. To perform this step, you can rent a forestry mulcher or a mower, both mounted on a “micro-tractor”; if the vegetation is not too high or too dense, you can just use a brushcutter. Be careful to observe if there are no brambles present, as the mulcher will inevitably encourage their multiplication.
Weeding and cleaning the floor
To control all weeds and the roots of woody plants after the brushcutter has passed through, there are several solutions available to you. The first – and most laborious – is to dig up (or pass the tiller over if the area is large), then manually sort out the weed clumps and the largest of the roots to remove them for clean soil.
Another clever solution, especially if you are working in winter, is to cover the soil and unwanted vegetation with cardboard or opaque tarpaulins (or old carpets, rolls of carpet, or other materials that provide a blackout cover). Leave this cover in place for a few months, then remove it: underneath, the vegetation will have decomposed, the earthworms and all the micro fauna in the soil will have done their work, and the soil will be cleaned and enriched with humus at the same time.
In the same spirit, you can also, for this first year of cultivation of your garden, set up a lasagne vegetable garden.
If your garden is fallow and you want to bring it back to life, it is advisable to start work during the winter. The winter period is long enough to give you time to clear the brush, weed and prepare the soil before spring, which is the ideal season for planting plants.