Repairing a neglected landscape can be tricky. Deciding where to start first and then figuring out what you have to work with is the hard part. One of the easiest ways to begin is by clearing out all of the dead or diseased plant materials. Raking leaves, removing broken branches and picking up trash or other debris is one of the first steps in dealing with a neglected landscape.
Identifying Plants in a Neglected Landscape
Once this is done allowing the shrubs and trees to leaf out or bloom will tell you what they are and how to prune them. Many bulbs will emerge during spring or early summer. As soon as the foliage on these plants die back you can dig them up, divide them and then replant them. Perennials should be dug up and divided as well especially if they are overgrown. Extra plants can be used to make a new bed, shared with friends or neighbors or donated to a local garden club sale. Determining what you have to work with can be intimidating, especially if you are new to gardening. Don’t worry so much about botanical names. There will always be time to find out what exact variety you have. In the beginning just learning the difference between a hosta, phlox or daylily will be enough. For the more advanced gardener learning the botanical names of the treasures you find in a neglected landscape can be half the fun. Depending on the original age of the garden you could find many heirloom, rare or endangered plants. Rather you are a new gardener or a seasoned hand if you do come across a plant you are not sure about, don’t dig it until you get a professional opinion. Some plants such as native orchids have very specific growing requirements and should not be disturbed.
Redesigning a Neglected Landscape
Once you have figured out what plants you have and what you would like to keep it will be time to consider your garden design. If the original garden was well designed it may not need anything more. However if the garden was poorly designed or not designed to your liking you will need to choose a new design. If you are creating a new bed be sure to work plenty of organic matter into the area before planting. Lay out walkways, seating areas and other aspects such as a pond or cooking area before beginning to plant. Make the walkways wide enough that they can easily be used. If your beds are quite large put some stepping stones in various places throughout the beds so you have a way to get in and work. Once the hardscape is done go ahead and start planting. Have fun with your new design and remember that your garden will be your own unique work of art so it does not have to appeal to anyone but you.