How To Clear An Overgrown Garden Organically

Last Updated on May 20, 2022 by Real Men Sow

Over the years, areas that are left alone will soon be invaded by an assortment of invasive plants. These included poison ivy and privet, as well as many tree seedlings. How should you then clear an overgrown garden when it’s so chaotic?

Why’s Your Garden Overgrown In The First Place

Even in well-drained garden soil, it doesn’t take long before wild animals invade your cultivated space. The first thing to happen is giant weeds and grasses. Next, brambles and tree seedlings are introduced, along with invasive berry-bearing shrubs. These include multiflora roses, privets, autumn olives, and possibly some Japanese honeysuckle.

Brambles can be difficult which is why choosing the best cutters for brambles is beneficial to clear up your garden.

How To Clear An Overgrown Garden According To Professionals

To clear an overgrown garden, many property management books will advise you to use herbicides in order to restore order to neglected gardens. However, chemicals aren’t always a good solution. It is not possible to get rid of weeds, woody and established perennial plants in one sweep. It usually takes two to three decades to remove unwanted plants from overgrown spaces and to restore the ability of these plants to grow good vegetables.

How To Clear An Overgrown Garden Effectively and Organically

If you are clearing a garden that is overgrown, it is important to first remove any woody trees or shrubs. To dig around the plant, use a sharp spade. This will give you an idea of its root structure. Next, use a sharp hatchet or a spade to remove any roots that are not covered. You can either dig more or use a Brush Grubber to pull the plant with the help of a vehicle or lawn mower.

Clear Woods And Brambles Effectively

Do not remove woodies more than a few inches from the ground. They can pose a danger to lawnmower blades and humans. If you are unable to remove an existing tree or shrub, cut the stump as close as possible to the ground. Next, use a drill and fill the holes with salt. Salt will kill any roots that may remain in the soil and help eliminate competition.

Even though vines and brambles can be difficult to remove, they are easy to get rid of. However, you should expect them to try to make a comeback from any roots left in the soil.


Tap-rooted perennial weeds like thistles, burdocks, and docks are the most resilient. It may take several years to manage established perennial weeds effectively. This is because, in addition to removing live plant parts, you also need to watch out for new seedlings which can be abundant for a few seasons.

After Your Cleared Your Overgrown Garden R

Once unwanted plants are removed, the next step is to plant a vigorous yet easy-to-control cover crop in the reclaimed space, so it quickly forms a thick cover of vegetation.

Restorative Cover Crops for Cleared Land

For example, you might use phacelia in spring, buckwheat in summer, or mustard in fall. As soon as the first cover crop starts to thin, take it down and plant another one. As you work, prepare to be humbled by the number of weeds and thug plants that have come back to life.

After three diggings and two cover crops, the soil can be shaped into permanent beds for long-term improvement, and you can grow undemanding crops like lettuce or dwarf beans. The overgrown garden is officially restored.

Dealing with Woody Debris 

Woody debris can be best shredded. If you have many saplings, renting a chipper might be worth it. My favorite material to paved around the composter or other mud-prone areas is wood chips. They are also great for mulching blueberries, as well as other plants that prefer acidic soil.

Burning Brambles

Prickly brambles are usually partially burned using a method that makes them charcoal or biochar. To begin, make a larger hole by digging out a blackberry/burdock pair. Next, pile up the accumulated debris and light it (under legal conditions). After adding more debris, set the fire to the top with soil. The material will continue to smolder until it reaches the end of its burn time. Half-burned pieces are left with holes from the fast fire, making them great habitats for soil biota, who thrive on shelter, oxygen and carbon in one area. This is the best way to transform thorny blackberry canes into useful tools for my garden.

How did you clear your overgrown garden? Any common issues you found here? Let us know!

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.