The Most Efficient Way to Clean Up an Overgrown & Neglected Yard

Front and backyards can experience seasons if not years of lack of maintenance. If you’re looking to return your yard to its original glory or just bought a new home and the yard is a mess, you might be wondering where to start. Don’t worry! Getting rid of an overgrown yard is easy to DIY when you work in stages.

(Of course, depending on the severity, it might be wise to enlist professional help.)

General rule of thumb: start with OPEN AREAS and then work your way to the perimeter.

STAGE 1: Get Rid Of Debris

2 Garbage Bags Full of Debris from Cleaning Someone's Yard

If your lawn has been neglected or you’re moving into a home left as-is by the previous owner, you’ll likely find a plethora of garbage lying around. This can include: rusty tools, broken garden gnomes, outdoor furniture, pinecones, etc.… You can’t even think of bringing in a mower or completing any other stages until this junk is gone. So. Get it up, toss it out, and on to the next step!

STAGE 2: Strim, Trim, and Rake It All Away

2 garbage bags full of debris from cleaning someone's yard

Strimming: If you have grass so tall that it feels like you’re walking through a jungle, the lawn mower might not be up to the task—yet. A “strimmer” is a machine designed to chop off and knock down those extra inches or even feet in some cases. By doing this, you prepare the grass for proper mowing without risk of damage to the lawn mower.

Trim Hedges: One thing that makes a landscape design look severely unkempt is over grown hedges. Break out the sheers and start clipping back hedges into a neater shape. Don’t worry about getting them perfect. Just take off the excess and if you need a more manicured look, call in the professionals for some real topiary.

Rake: Now that you have chopped down the grass with the skimmer and clipped away at the hedges, you might feel like you’ve just added to the mess. Not for long! Break out the rake and a garbage bag, and let the clearing begin. Once you’ve raked away this mess, you’ll immediately notice a difference—but we’re not there yet!

STAGE 3: Identify Plants You Want to Keep & Remove the Rest

A woman standing over purple flowers in her garden

You don’t have to be a botanist to discern what’s worth keeping and what’s not. A quick Internet search on perennials and weeds or bringing in a professional landscaper are good places to start if you truly feel at sea. Remember, just because it’s overgrown doesn’t mean a plant isn’t salvageable. They can always be pruned or cut back. However, if Black-eyed Susans have taken over a section of yard, it might be best to decide how many flowers you want and pull the rest.

Once you’ve identified which plants are living and worth keeping, it’s time to do some editing. First, remove all dead plants. Then, it’s time to weed. This can be done in two ways:

  1. Pull them: this requires the most effort, but it also ensures that the plants you want to keep remain unharmed in the practice. Using a gardening fork is extremely helpful for this task.
  2. Use chemicals: this is the fastest method, but it is also a potentially harmful one. Lack of safety precautions can expose you to chemical killing agents. Also, it requires focus to ONLY target the weeds and avoid spraying the plants you want to keep. (You can trust professional landscapers & gardeners to get the job done properly.)

STAGE 4: Mow

Lawn Mower sitting on a fenced in lawn

Now that everything is out of the way, breakout the lawn mower and smooth it all out. This will immediately make a difference and your yard will truly begin to look tame and presentable.

STAGE 5: Crisp Up the Edges

A landscaped backyard with lots of open grass brick fencing and trimmed shrubs

One thing that makes for a quality landscape design are defined borders. These can be flowerbeds, fences, patios and walkways, retaining walls, etc.…You’ll want to remove all the weeds and trim them carefully.

Et Voilà! Instant curb appeal once again! (link to curb appeal blog post)

Remember to water your lawn regularly to promote healthy plant growth, but keep up on maintenance to avoid over growth. It’s highly recommended to do seasonal yard cleanups to keep your yard presentable all year round. The best way not to let your lawn get neglected is to enlist the help of professionals, like Hillsborough Irrigation. With expert help you can have a lawn sprinkler system installed and regular landscaping maintenance to keep your yard pristine.

Is the state of your yard a little more than you can handle or you want to avoid a neglected appearance

Absolutely. Help me out, Hillsborough!