How To Clear An Allotment
You have an allotment or are considering one and it's
overgrown. These page will lead you through the clearing process in
detail and you can be sure that you will have the best advice because we
have cleared allotments three times. Each stage of the process will be
accompanied by pictures because pictures speak a thousand words. We are
aiming at a process which is quick and leads to a weed free result.
First let's deal with our views on the use of chemicals
to clear an allotment. One method sometimes used is to clear the top
grass and weeds and then spray with a glycophosphate based weed killer.
This will kill the weeds stone dead in roughly two weeks and they will
not re-grow. Simple and effective but on environmental grounds we simply
cannot recommend spraying an entire allotment with what is after all an
unproven chemical. Possibly selective spraying with glycophosphate can
be justified in some cases but surely not 100% coverage.
Gardeners often find couch grass difficult to eradicate
and eventually resort to the use of glycophosphate to clear an
allotment. We have previously cleared a full sized allotment of couch
grass without using glycophosphate and are in the process (June 2006) of doing the same again on
another allotment. Click here for our
couch grass pages.
There are two main types of overgrown allotment, the
grass overgrown allotment and the weed and grass overgrown allotment.
The treatment of both (in our experience) is the same.
Let's lay out
clearly the key steps we recommend in tackling an overgrown allotment and then
discuss each step in more detail. The key steps are:
1. Clear the site of the top 90% of weeds and grass.
2. Clear the allotment of any large solid objects
(cricks wire etc.)
3. Break up the soil surface by either raking or using a
4. Decide how much you can dig (step 5 below) in two weeks
and cover the rest with some form of mulch. Black plastic or old carpets
5. Dig to one+ spade's depth removing grass and weed
roots from the uncovered section.
6. Move the mulch up the allotment for a further
distance of two weeks digging and repeat steps 4 to 6 until the whole
allotment is dug over.
Other alternative methods of clearing an allotment are
described briefly at the end of this article.
The first step of clearing most of the grass and
weeds is required so that you can uncover any large objects, wire etc. and also to
make further clearing of the plot easier. It will also make
clearer any boundary lines and the general contours of
Before you start, take a good look at the allotment by
walking up and down. With a bit of luck you may find some fruit or
vegetables which have survived among all those weeds and grass. You may
well want to preserve these by hand weeding round them.
Either use a petrol strimmer which will take you
a day for the average allotment or use a scythe or secateurs which will
take a lot longer. All these garden implements can be hired at your
local hire shop. They may well already be available from your allotment
Having cut down the majority of the grass and weeds,
rake them up and put them on the compost heap. This will significantly
reduce the amount of grass / weed re-growth later on.
At GardenAction we only give advice where we have
practical experience of a subject.
To prove that our allotment clearance
advice is the result of direct experience, the picture on the left shows
the same allotment as in the first picture above, but under two years
later. Clear of couch grass and other perennial weeds.
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