How to Turn an Outdoor Abomination Into a Beautiful Garden


When I moved out of my last home, the garden resembled more of  a forest and the weeds were taller than me! I liked to think I was doing my bit for nature by leaving lots of natural habitat for beneficial insects.

But when my daughter came along, I suddenly realised we needed a habitable space for humans too! So how can you create a space that is both beneficial for you, critters AND the environment.

Clear the Weeds

Traditional ways of clearing ‘weeds’ is to use harsh toxic chemicals. Fortunately more people are becoming aware that this isn’t the best method.

Sure it gets the job done quickly, but its negative effects can be far reaching and long lasting, to humans, our pets and the environment at large.

The first thing I’d do is to determine whether plants really are weeds. Some can be eaten, such as dandelions and cleavers. Some have great medicinal properties such as nettles. Other ‘weeds’ provide valuable food for insects, such as bees on red clover and comfrey. Weeds can protect the soil from drying out and can tell you a lot about the condition of your soil. So always leave a few patches in your garden.

Once you’ve decided to leave a few strategic areas with weeds, you can use a strimmer, to cut down the rest, but then leave them to dry off in the sun before composting. That way you get a helpful ingredient for your home made compost, but you don’t contaminate it with weed seeds.


Clear the Rubbish

I find it amazing how much rubbish can accumulate in an unkempt garden; broken plant pots, broken toys, even tarpaulins that have weathered and begun to break up.

Depending on the volume of rubbish to clear away, it might make sense to hire a skip instead of making several trips to your local household waste and recycling centre. Be sure to use a company that is a registered waste carrier and ask how much of the contents they will recycle, so you know everything isn’t just going into landfill.

Plan Your New Garden

You’re now at the point where you’re starting from a blank canvas with your garden. What should you do next?

At that point, it might be an idea to involve a landscape architect to help you design the garden of your dreams. Alternatively, you could use a smartphone or tablet app to design it, collecting inspiration from websites like Pinterest along the way.

If you want to use a desktop or laptop computer to design your garden’s new layout, one idea might be to use a program like SketchUp. Otherwise, the old-fashioned pen and paper method can help you transfer your thoughts onto a blueprint for your garden.

Prepare the Garden

Once you know what you’re doing with your garden, the next stage is to prepare each section. For example, if you want to create a patio area by your back door, you’ll need to dig some trenches to create the foundations for wood decking.

If you want to create a pond area in your garden and perhaps want to keep some fish, you’ll need to prepare the site for mains water and electricity for a water pump.

The preparation stage is crucial in any garden design, even if you opt for a simple low maintenance design. Don’t cut corners; if you need help, don’t be afraid to hire some professionals. It’ll be a worthwhile investment, and it means you’ll end up with the best results.