What To Do If Your Garden Looks Terrible?

I’ve always been obsessed with the beauty of well-kept spaces, and I’m a bit of a clean freak about my personal space and my garden. Let’s be honest: most people keep gardens because of the aesthetics they bring to areas more than anything else, and a terrible-looking garden can be pretty distressing for you and your plants. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to fix the problem and bring back some beauty to your greenery.

If your garden looks terrible, you should do the following:

  1. Identify all the plants.
  2. Make a list of the plants you want to keep.
  3. Come up with a plan.
  4. Gather all the power tools.
  5. Remove trash and debris.
  6. Clear the paths.
  7. Mow the garden using a string mower.
  8. Clean and define the edges of your garden.
  9. Remove the weeds.
  10. Add some fertilizer to the soil.
  11. Add some mulch.
  12. Trim and prune the plants.
  13. Replant specific plants.

Ultimately, the right course of action depends on how bad the garden looks and how much work you’re willing to put in to improve the garden’s appearance. You can also combine some of these practices for better results–especially if it’s a pretty messy garden. Keep reading to learn how to make your garden look great.

How to Fix Your Garden if It Looks Terrible

Getting rid of overgrowth in your garden is a pretty straightforward solution for a terrible-looking garden. It’s also a surefire way to improve its look and ensure your plants thrive as they should.

Clearing the overgrowth might involve trimming or pruning poorly maintained plants or flowers, but you might need to remove weeds too.

However, you might need to do more than pruning and clearing weeds if your garden is in horrible shape. In this case, I’d recommend getting your hands dirty and getting to work.

This process can be pretty challenging–especially if you’re an amateur gardener. But I’ll share a few tips and tricks to help you get the job done.

Here’s how you can fix your garden if it looks terrible:

1. Identify All the Plants

You might need to use a guidebook or a tool like Google Lens, but make a list of all the varieties you have in your garden. This step might take a few days, which is vital to the clearing process’s overall success.

2. Make a List of the Plants You Want to Keep

Make a list of the plants you want to keep and those you wish to remove. It’s alright to remove plants that were initially a part of the garden. You can think of this opportunity as a fresh start for you and your garden.

3. Come Up With a Plan

Regardless of the state of your garden, I recommend coming up with a plan, deciding on how you’d like it to look, and even making a few sketches of the result. Don’t be afraid to experiment, but ensure it’s within your limit–you don’t want to have an abandoned project on your hands!

4. Gather All the Power Tools

Gather all the power tools you’ll need to clear the overgrowth. You’ll need high-quality tools like a string mower, a stump grinder, a chainsaw, or a pole saw to restore your garden. These can be rented for a day or a weekend if you don’t want to get your own.

5. Remove Trash and Debris

Remove trash and debris from the garden. You can call a few friends to help manually remove old fittings, junk, and damaged planters, but make sure that you’re wearing high-quality garden gloves. They’ll help to keep your hands safe and clean and are durable and versatile enough for the job.

6. Clear the Paths

Clear the paths in your garden with the power tools so you can move around. Ensure you’re careful when handling the tools and start a compost pile of all the dead plant matter you remove. Remember to use the appropriate safety equipment when handling all power tools.

7. Mow the Garden Using a String Mower

I don’t recommend using a lawn mower for overgrown gardens as they can quickly get damaged by the terrain. However, you can use a regular lawn mower if your garden doesn’t look too bad.

8. Clean and Define the Edges of Your Garden

This step is crucial because it helps define your garden boundary and eliminates some weeds in the process. You can use a garden spade to define your garden edges, but ensure the process is as precise as possible.

9. Remove the Weeds

You might need to pull some of these weeds from the roots, but ensure you don’t damage the plants you want to keep in the process. It’s best to prune the weeds first before you remove them completely.

10. Add Some Fertilizer to the Soil

I recommend using a suitable plant fertilizer to enrich the soil and supply all the necessary nutrients your garden will need to thrive over the next few weeks.

11. Add Some Mulch

Add some mulch to the garden to suppress weeds and improve soil quality. Mulching will also help conserve water and improve the overall aesthetics of your garden. You can also use the compost pile you created earlier for similar results.

12. Trim and Prune the Plants

At this point, all that’s left in your garden are the plants you want to keep. Ensure you prune them as much as is necessary to ensure they thrive as much as possible.

13. Replant Specific Plants

Replant specific plants to ensure they get as many resources as they need to flourish. Your renewed garden is almost perfect, but you might need to move some plants around to ensure they get optimal sunlight, shade, and water. You might also need to replant certain plant groups to provide them with enough space.

I understand that this process might seem challenging, especially if you’re new to gardening and dealing with a particularly terrible-looking garden. However, you’ll be fine as long as you follow my instructions to the letter.

What Other Ways Can You Fix a Garden That Looks Terrible?

I need to point out that the process I described in the preceding section is primarily for extreme situations. You don’t need to resort to actions as drastic as those if you’re dealing with somewhat manageable gardens.

In this case, you’d be better off interfering with the garden as little as possible to improve its appearance.

Here are a few other ways you can fix a garden that looks terrible:

  • Grow a cover plant.
  • Leave the weeds to grow.
  • Call for professional help.

Let’s see how these practices can help your garden:

Grow a Cover Plant

One great way to fix your garden if it looks terrible is by growing cover plants like clover and honeysuckle in your space. These plants are fantastic weed killers, and they also help to protect the soil from erosion

Most cover plants control weeds by completely covering the soil and leaving no space for other plants to grow, so I recommend using low-maintenance cover plants for a better gardening experience.

Here are a few low-maintenance cover plants you can try:

  • Clover
  • Honeysuckle
  • Heuchera
  • Brass Buttons
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Vinca Minor
  • Stonecrop
  • Lamium
  • Alfalfa
  • Winter Rye

Ultimately, you need to decide what works for you and your garden. And while you may prefer green cover plants to accentuate the rest of the plants in the garden, brightly-colored plants can increase your space’s overall aesthetics.

Using cover plants might not be the right choice in certain situations–especially if you want some earthy elements in your garden. In that case, I’d recommend trying out a different practice.

Leave the Weeds to Grow

Sometimes, the best action you can take in any situation is to take no action. And with a terrible-looking garden, your best course of action might be to leave things as they are. However, you should only leave the weeds to grow if they benefit your garden aesthetically or functionally.

Some weeds aren’t so bad, and their bright colors or beautiful flowers might be what your garden needs. Edible weeds might also be great additions to your garden, and you can allow them to flourish to serve as food for you or your pets.

However, I’d advise you to check in with local laws to ensure it’s okay for you to grow these plants in your garden. Some weeds might be particularly nasty, and they can take over gardens with little to no warning.

Of course, ensure you correctly identify any weed you want to keep before you leave the plants to grow. Some pretty plants might be toxic or dangerous to other plants.

Call for Professional Help

Another excellent option for fixing your garden might be calling professionals to help you. After all, there’s nothing wrong with asking for some help, and your garden might be too far gone for you to fix it by yourself. However, you can also call in professionals if all you need to do is some weeding or cleaning.

You can check out gardening companies in your area for solutions. And while this approach might be more expensive, it’s usually the most efficient option for your garden.

Some professional gardening services also serve as consultants and can help with planning and tool renting if you’re fixing the garden by yourself.

Why Does Your Garden Look Terrible?

I wrote this article to guide fixing a terrible-looking garden, but I decided to go over a few reasons your garden might be in this state in the first place. After all, understanding what makes your garden look terrible can help prevent the problem if you’re starting a new garden or tending an existing one.

Here are a few reasons your garden might look terrible:

  • Insufficient or excess sunlight
  • Unsuitable soil quality
  • Lack of planning
  • Bad weather and extreme temperatures
  • Unsuitable plant variety
  • Inconsistent watering habits
  • Pests and diseases
  • Lack of garden maintenance

Let’s quickly explore what these reasons mean for you and how they impact your garden’s aesthetics:

Insufficient or Excess Sunlight

Sunlight is an essential element in gardens and gardening, and it can be the difference between having thriving plants or a distressed-looking space.

Different plants require different levels of sunlight to flourish, but the sunlight levels can also cause some plants to grow out of control. On the other hand, it can also cause your plants to wither and die.

You’ll need to monitor and control how much sunlight your garden receives to ensure the plants in your garden thrive, and the weeds die. To do that, you’ll need to check the sunlight requirements for every plant in your garden and relocate them to appropriate positions.

Unsuitable Soil Quality

Sun and soil are typically the first things most people consider when they think about gardens. So it’s unsurprising that the soil quality can affect the plants in your garden since the plants thrive according to how many essential nutrients they get.

Too little and they die; too much and your plants might have problems.

Ultimately, it’s best to monitor and control the amount of nutrients in your soil. I recommend using an all-purpose fertilizer to enrich the soil.

Lack of Planning

As I mentioned earlier, planning is an integral part of gardening. And you can end up with a failed garden if you don’t plan for every aspect of your space. You’ll need to account for every plant’s environmental requirements and include elements like paths and a toolshed for efficiency.

A poorly-planned garden is easy to spot, and you’ll usually have lots of issues from the start. I recommend you spend as much time as possible planning the garden or call a team of professionals to help you.

Bad Weather and Extreme Temperatures

Nature can also contribute to the failure of a garden. It’s possible to plan for every aspect of the garden and use the right fertilizers for the soil, but a particularly heavy storm or severe heatwave can cause severe damage to your plants. Storms are prevalent in certain regions, and strong winds can cause serious problems.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to stop these factors. But you might need to install some protective equipment like tents and drainpipes if the weather conditions stay terrible.  

Unsuitable Plant Variety

Sometimes, the problem might also be with the plants you have in your garden. Not all plant varieties will thrive in all conditions, and some plants might not fit in with the aesthetics you’re hoping to get in your space. Consider getting local plants for your garden.

Inconsistent Watering Habits

Watering habits can also affect what your garden looks like, just like sunlight and soil quality. Your garden can be impacted by inconsistent watering, inappropriate water, overwatering, and underwatering, which may lead to serious plant problems.

Use clean water when you water, observe the soil’s moisture level using a meter, and water as necessary. Since moisture meters don’t require batteries, they’re a fantastic option for all gardens and regions.

Pests and Diseases

All living things struggle with diseases that may impact their health and appearance. And for plants, these diseases can severely affect their appearance, resulting in a terrible-looking garden. Fortunately, you can prevent this problem by treating diseases early on before they become serious.

Pests can also impact your plants and garden, but they’re typically easier to control. The secret is to keep your garden as clean as possible to ensure the pests don’t have a place to hide and thrive.

Of course, you can also use neem oil or insecticides if you suspect there’s a pest in your garden.

Lack of Garden Maintenance

I’ve noticed that all terrible-looking and failed gardens have one factor: a lack of maintenance. It’s pretty easy to end up with an awful-looking garden if you don’t maintain the land as often as possible.

In fact, an hour or two of tending every Saturday can go a long way in ensuring your garden looks as beautiful as you’d like.

Final Thoughts

You can fix your garden if it looks terrible, and the tips I’ve compiled in this article will tell you all you need to know about restoring your plants. And while many factors can contribute to the awful state of your garden, understanding how they impact your plants can help keep your garden beautiful.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the founder of TheGrowingLeaf.com and its lead content writer. He created the website in 2022 as a resource for horticulture lovers and beginners alike, compiling all the gardening tips he discovered over the years. Alex has a passion for caring for plants, turning backyards into feel-good places, and sharing his knowledge with the rest of the world.

Recent Posts