Newby question(s)

Just bought a house for the first time (at age 60!), and I have a back yard I'd like to clear. Of course, I'd like to clear the lot myself. Lot is about 50'x30. Ordinarily I'd just take my time, clear a bit at a time. Would rather not use herbicides (though the soil is hardly pristine--once caught one of the painters dumping paint out back). I should probably try to rent some power equipment, but is it feasible to do this with hand tools? Biggest problem seems to be an overgrowth of wild fennel (which smells great, but some of the tap roots go 2 feet straight down). Any hand tools make this doable, or should I break down and get some power tools I'll probably rarely use?
TIA, Steve
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Mark & Steven Bornfeld DDS
http://www.dentaltwins.com
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Steven Bornfeld wrote:

50' X 30' is a postage stamp. My vegetable garden is 50' X 50' and I till it in like three hours, and I will soon be seventy years old. You don't need to buy a tiller, go to your local Rent-All and rent one. If you don't feel up to it for $100 hire a strapping teen for the day... and I realize that's not easy, today's teens are deathly ascared of dirt, sweat, and calluses. You'll probably need to hire a girl. Haven't you noticed how Friendly's hires mostly girls, todays's boys haven't the strength to scoop ice cream, nor the brains.
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On 6/7/2012 9:47 PM, Brooklyn1 wrote:

It would be worth it to see the look on my 15-year old daughter's face if I asked her to work out there. She's not exactly "strapping", but she's got a smart mouth. Maybe I'll see what I can rent.
Thanks, Steve
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wrote:

When my kids in their young teens had a smart mouth , or any other thing they were in trouble for, the garden was the perfect place to send them. I loved getting the weeds pulled and watching them do it !! MJ
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On 6/8/2012 4:03 AM, mj wrote:

Timely--and more useful than just grounding her.
Steve
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wrote:

****Caveat re: using teenagers. It's a lovely idea (old-fashioned belief-system keys in) to help them learn the work ethic (and save a buck), but you might find it helpful to give detailed instructions and to supervise casually but carefully. Those *&^%$()_)# weeds can be VERY deep-rooted (2 ft. taproot!!!). Just "pulling" the tops as kids might think they should do will accomplish exactly zip; the roots are there and will resprout in days.
No doubt you have already planned to soak the area thoroughly in advance to make digging up the ^^%#$**)_@ easier and more effective?
Another approach, which I fear I might use even if I couldn't afford it, would be to bring in a professional crew to get the job over with fast and correctly.
If you do plan to DIY or hire kids, factor in the cost of renting or buying tools which you might or might not need later on.
Chacun...
HB
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On 6/9/2012 1:40 PM, Higgs Boson wrote:

So far the back's holding up. The neighbor hopped the fence yesterday and had at it with a spade. He gave it a good go, but was mightily impressed. I continued today. The kid's not touching this.
Thanks, Steve
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Steven Bornfeld wrote:

rent for the day/week or have friends to beg/bribe/borrow/...
there's nothing wrong with doing it slowly and this might give you a chance to identify plants you'd like to keep that are currently overgrown or unknown to you at present. also, doing it slowly means you don't have to leave a lot of bare space for new weeds to take over. mulching, using cover plants/cover crops, green manures, layer gardening, etc. all very good to learn and to figure out what your soil likes best and needs. soil testing for garden spaces or finicky plants is also a good idea if you plan on spending a lot of money on new plants or suspect your soil may be problematic... finding neighbors who garden is great.
it can be quite an adventure. :)
here it was abandoned fields that used to be an old christmas tree farm and before that it was mixed swampy scrub and huge white pine trees. over the years of gradually changing things we've found many wild flowers and various critters. clearing it all and starting over from scratch would have probably elminated the ones we like and bringing in fill always has the risk of bringing in new weed seeds too.
oh and avoid seeds/seed mixes that you don't know what all is in them and how invasive or pesky they might be. we have several weeds from such that have been a real PITA...
songbird
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On 6/7/2012 8:46 PM, songbird wrote:

Thanks. My next door neighbor is an avid gardener; recently retired, has already volunteered to help me. But I know he'd refuse payment and I feel funny about letting him work on the yard for free--plus he's no youngster himself and smokes heavily. I'd just as soon get the aches and pains myself. Have read about "lasagna" gardening, but I'm going to have a heck of a time cutting these huge weeds down flat enough to do it. There are a few plants I'd consider keeping, but not much.
Steve
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Steven Bornfeld wrote:

But no harm in accepting his experienced advice.

Contact your local High School, there are typically teens looking for summer jobs, and even if all you have to offer is a few days yard work word of mouth spreads.
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