Clearing the Wilderness to Make Room for our Vegetable Garden

When we bought a derelict house and overgrown garden in August 2013, we were actually far more interested in what we could make of the outdoor space, rather than just focusing on inside!

Both the front and back gardens were so neglected that we didn’t even know how much land we had, in fact we didn’t realise at all that we had a ‘3rd’ garden to the side of the house.

Although the back garden looks quite large from this angle, you can only see a third of the eventual land we revealed
Although the back garden looks quite large from this angle, you can only see a third of the eventual land we revealed
The pathway through the front garden, enclosed by various trees and shrubs that were masking the rest of the area
The pathway through the front garden, enclosed by various trees and shrubs that were masking the rest of the area
Side of the house and back door
Side of the house and back door; hidden underneath these laurel bushes was at least another 20ft of garden we didn’t know we had!

Obviously our first task was to clear away a lot of the overgrown shrubs and bushes so we could see what we had to work with! With the help of lots of friends and family over several weekends, days off and bank holidays, we set about the dense overgrowth where we revealed 5 apple trees, 3 flowering and 1 fruiting cherry trees and a mirabelle tree all which we pruned back but kept in the garden, as well as a giant blackcurrant bush which unfortunately had to go as it was blocking the light to house windows.

The blackcurrant bush that was at least 20 years old and blocking light into the house
The blackcurrant bush that was at least 20 years old and blocking light into the house (with the giant conifer looming in the background behind the garage)

During this process we were very conscious of the fact that we were stripping away at ‘nature’ and whilst we preserved as much as we could, a lot of it just had to be removed, it was too old, too overgrown and in the case of most of the plants, choked in ivy.

Trying to remove thick ivy stems from the trunk of an apple tree
Trying to remove thick ivy stems from the trunk of an apple tree
Creating piles of cuttings as the land was cleared to then be shredded and chipped
Creating piles of cuttings as the land was cleared to then be shredded and chipped

However, we always tried to make best use of whatever we took out. Every plant and tree that was removed was shredded or chipped and a couple of trees that had to be removed were chopped up for future use for the wood burning stove that we were fitting in the living room.

Logs and sticks waiting to be chopped up and stored
Logs and sticks waiting to be chopped up and stored

We sacrificed a section of the back garden behind the garage to become a driveway as the property had no parking at all, and for the hardcore base of the drive, we reused bricks and rubble that had been removed during the house renovations.

The area we allocated for the driveway
The area we allocated for the driveway

The earth that was dug out for the base of the driveway was put into another gigantic pile and was later used to fill the raised beds we created!

Piles of earth and chippings on a frosty winter morning!
Piles of earth and chippings on a frosty winter morning!

The huge piles of chippings that we generated from the overgrowth have since been used all around the garden.

One of the many piles of chippings we created
One of the many piles of chippings we created

Nearly 2 years later and we’ve still got a huge wood pile of fuel to burn!

After several weeks of non-stop clearing, we were finally left with a blank canvas on which to build our new gardens, at the front, back and side of the house!

Time to begin again!
Time to begin again!
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