Where do I start in cleaning up a messy backyard?

by Kate
  18 answers
  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Mar 11, 2020

    It depends on what kind of mess you have. My first goal is to purge and clear an area. If you have drainage issues, that's the first fix. After that is done, get a vision for the space you want: tranquility, fun, exercise, garden (vegetable or floral or combination). Then draw out your space and begin to rebuild.

  • Scarlet Paolicchi Scarlet Paolicchi on Mar 11, 2020

    Here is one backyard make over for inspiration. https://www.hometalk.com/diy/grow/landscaping/backyard-makeover-diy-landscaping-project-18617995

    Since i am not sue how big your backyard is what it is currently like, I will just provide a few more ideas to inspire you.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Mar 11, 2020

    Springtime is the perfect time timing to try to improve your backyard. Looking at the vegetation growing establishing a plan of what you like and what you want to remove might be the first task.

    Many times overgrown trees and shrubs might be pruned. Lawn renovation is a possibility if you want to control weeds the application of pre-emergent herbicide’s timing is critical usually the time you see the yellow for forsythia blooming Is your window for applying the pre-emergent. For lawn renovation soil testing is always recommended. Picking up sticks and broken branches might be the first start. Cleaning out your bed the second. Fertilization are pre-emergent herbicide might be another.

    Spring and fall are also times great times to establish new plantings or create new landscape beds. Your location would determine the best plants to suggest. Most plants success depend on their hardness to geographic planting zones presenting weather conditions.

    Additionally for the best local professional advice

    I would highly suggest contacting your cooperative extension. These offices are manned by volunteer master gardeners on site there waiting to answer the communities questions that know your local situation quite well.

    Master gardeners are required to volunteer back designated hours ( plus continuing education) each year to maintain MG certification -this community outreach and education is their goal.

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Mar 11, 2020

    Kate....What is the mess....can you explain a little more please? Thanks

  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 11, 2020

    Hi Kate, the first thing it to decide what look you want, do you want grass, or a mix of grass and flowers and stone. When we moved in, this yard was a lumpy lawn and that was all, we worked on sections, as we could afford. This is 2"-3" limestone rock with 1/2" on the pathways. So pick a section and start on that, then the rest will fall into place. Take your time.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 11, 2020

    Hello Kate,

    Make a plan of the garden on a sheet of paper. Make a note of non moveable items already in the garden and draw them in on plan. Make a list of features you would like to incorporate eg: Greenhouse, Shed/store, bench, swing, Veg plot, flower beds, trees, terrace, Patio, Pond, Pool etc. Make scale floor area drawing of each and cut out to use on your plan. This is the enjoyable bit...............Have fun positioning them on the plan until it looks right to you. You don't have to do things all at once. Keep the plan and stick on the features so you can refer to it over time.

    I had my plan stuck to the kitchen table and covered it with cloth when not in use.

    The sense of achievement is great when you complete a small project as part of the whole. Never be afraid to change your mind about things as you go along if it looks better that way in reality!! A garden is a journey not a trip!

    Enjoy It will give back to you with pleasure..............

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Mar 11, 2020

    Hi Kate, do you perhaps have a picture of your backyard you could share. It would make it easier for us to try help you plan it.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Mar 11, 2020

    After even a mild winter, there's leaf's, trash, disturbed mulch, etc. Clean up is easier with some of the milder weather lately in my area. They don't pick up yard waste here until April, so for now, I'm focused on filling my cans with leaf debris, small twigs, etc. and putting regular debris in garbage. Work gloves, a rake, containers and a garbage bag are all you need to get started. Good luck!

  • Clean out any and all debris so you have a blank slate to work with. If you compost, toss in leaves, grass.

    Then decide how you and your family use the yard and your lifestyle. Pets or children to consider? If so, be mindful of the plants and chemicals that are commonly used. Some plants are not good for pets. Read chemical labels before applying. I have pets and kids and do not use any chemicals by choice to keep them and the wildlife safe.

    Do you want a lawn? Patio? Entertaining space? Outdoor kitchen area? Shade? Bird feeders? Humming bird feeders? Play area? Herb or vegetable garden? Cutting garden?

    Make a rudimentary sketch of your space and draw in flower beds, tree placement, patio, etc. If you know what zone you are in we can offer suggestions for plantings.

    Most of all, have fun! It's a great process and you will be so proud when done. And if budget is a concern, don't feel like you have to do it all at once. I am in my house 21 years and every spring I update or rework a different area to keep things pretty.

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Mar 12, 2020


    We have a backyard that has been a thorn in my side for the 30 yrs I have lived here. We have a lot of trees, a lot of mess from leaves and so I started by looking the yard over and even made photos and then I thought about what I would like to do in each area. I took one section of the yard at a time and raked it, sprayed weeds with a weed killer, added soil if needed and either planted something in the areas I cleaned up or put in creeping jenny which will spread and is green all year. It was a lot easier once I broke the yard up into sections that I could handle and I was so happy with each accomplishment. Good luck to you

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Mar 13, 2020

    Take a look at what is permanently there, make plans for ideas focused around them. Also clean away anything that can effect drainage, remove debris. Patch and holes in the yard.

    Also consider shade vs sunny areas, think about what will do best in those as far as plants and items like bird baths, etc.

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on Mar 13, 2020

    Pick up anything laying on the floor first and throw it out in a black bag then cut the grass if it needs it then rake up all grass then sweep any grounds if there are any

  • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Mar 16, 2020

    A picture of your back yard would help a lot! Do you have buildings, animals, overgrown plants/weeds?

  • Mogie Mogie on Dec 10, 2022

    I would start by picking up trash and stuff that needs to be put away.

    Then move onto trimming and/or removing plants and trees.

    Do you need to make room for pets?

    Do you have any outdoor furniture?

    Do you have a patio or deck?

    Fire pit?

    What don't you have that you want to add?