Great growing conditions make for a bountiful harvest but they also help the weeds grow. Here’s how to get yourself out of an overgrown garden situation.
We have more than our fair share of experience dealing with an overgrown garden that has become completely filled with weeds. We’ve always been really ambitious and excited about gardening in general, so we always seem to start big early in the spring and then find ourselves kind of kicking ourselves later on in the summer when life gets busy. Sound familiar? 🙂
I think the worst year was a few years ago, the summer when Jack was around six months old. We started out doing really well because Jack was happy to be out there with us. We would just hold him with one hand and pull weeds with the other! Well, as he got to be a little bit older near the end of the season, he just wasn’t having any of it. So it became harder and harder to be out in the garden successfully and eventually things just got completely out of control. I’m talking about weeds as tall as Chris! Our garden is in a big open area, so we get the wind bringing in aaalll the different kinds of weed seeds. Then of course, we live in a really humid climate and get lots of rain, so those weeds can really grow if we aren’t completely on top of it!
Rescue an Overgrown Garden: “Dig” Yourself Out
Luckily, by now we’ve learned to dig ourselves out of that overgrown garden situation so I thought I’d share a little bit about our process with you today! If you’re looking at a garden that’s filled with weeds and just looks completely hopeless, I promise you it’s not! And it’s actually not that much work to get things back under control as long as you’re patient with yourself and you have a system to follow!
We let things get a little out of control last year during the month of June when we were working really hard on our back hall mud room area, but we’ve been able to get things back on track now and I think this is one of the nicest years for the garden that we’ve had yet!
Start With a Small Section
Try not to think of having to rescue your entire garden area from weeds, instead try working with one small section at a time. We like to say to ourselves, “Today I’m going to rescue the carrots” and just focus on that one little section. This is great because you get to feel a little bit of instant gratification each time a new section of your garden is freed up from the oppression of the weeds! You can say to yourself “Yay! I have chard again!”
Go Back Over The Rescued Sections
This is really key to making this whole thing work. Once you save one section of your garden, make sure you start each weeding session by quickly going back over the last section (or sections) that you’ve already taken care of. I like to use one of these claw thingies and just work the soil between my rows or my planted areas a little bit. If I keep the soil moving every few days, no weeds really ever get a chance to get established! The one or two stray weeds that do manage to pop up can be easily pulled in a matter of two minutes before I head over to the next section of weediness that needs to be tackled. Of course, once you start doing this you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing this all along. I know I always do, but life happens! The good news is that once you get things back under control, it’s super satisfying and maybe even a little fun to keep the good, weed-free times rolling. 🙂
Have a Plan to Re-plant for Later Harvest
We like to talk about what our plans are going to be for the garden for the rest of the season once we win our garden back from the weeds. It can be easy to feel like it’s easier to just give up and wait until next year to start again, but when you start thinking about it, you usually realize that you have a whole lot of growing season left! Once you get this fresh perspective, it really makes you realize how much good gardening you’d be missing out on this year if you gave up. Right now, in the middle of summer, we probably have three more rounds of planting for many things before we need to put the garden to bed for the winter. We’ve been working out there for months already though, so it’s easy to feel like we’re nearing the end of the season when we’re really not.
Make Your Garden Area Smaller
If it all just seems like too much to keep up with, try giving yourself a little less to work with, even just temporarily. One option you can look into is building permanent raised gardens in your garden area. They can easily be made from scratch (like ours) or use one of these handy kits for a more polished look. This can give you a lot less soil surface area to weed pretty quickly. One other little trick is to make temporary faux raised garden borders for yourself to plant in for the rest of the season. Just plant your seeds in your little square and you’ll only have a very small section of soil to watch over and weed by hand. For all areas outside of your squares, it’s really easy to weed or claw those areas really quickly because you don’t need to look out for any delicate little plants out there. You don’t really have much less area to work with, but it feels much easier and quicker to deal with somehow.
Once you get a few sections of your overgrown garden rescued, you’ll find yourself really picking up speed and even looking forward to weeding. It’s really fun to see your garden coming back to life with all of the things you planted earlier in the year looking so neat and tidy all of a sudden.
Have you ever had to rescue your overgrown garden? What tactics did you use to get the job done?
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Courtenay Hartford is the author of creeklinehouse.com, a blog based on her adventures renovating a 120-year-old farmhouse in rural Ontario, Canada. On her blog, Courtenay shares interior design tips based on her own farmhouse and her work as founder and stylist of the interior photography firm Art & Spaces. She also writes about her farmhouse garden, plant-based recipes, family travel, and homekeeping best practices. Courtenay is the author of the book The Cleaning Ninja and has been featured in numerous magazines including Country Sampler Farmhouse Style, Better Homes and Gardens, Parents Magazine, Real Simple, and Our Homes.