Transforming rough ground into garden/lawn

In my backyard, I have an area roughly 20X30 that is covered by some blackberry vines, maple tree shoots, and gravel mixed in with the dirt. What is best way to reclaim this area so that I can use it for a garden or lawn? I have no idea how it got to be this way before we moved onto the property. Thanks for any advice.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Kneepads, spade, pitch fork, backbreaking work that'll make you curse for hours on end. Easier if you water thoroughly today, and work on it 24 hours later, since many weeds will loosen their grip on the soil when it's moist (but not mud). Five years later, you'll look at it and feel REALLY good about what you did.
It would help a lot to own the tool at the link below. I've had one for 20 years. If someone tried to take it away from me, I'd put it through their skull. It's the best garden tool ever made, period, end of discussion. It works because of it's shape and heftiness, not because of being sharp (which it isn't), and will cut through almost any root, weed, branch, whatever. It'll make you extremely happy. http://www.seedsofchange.com/garden_center/product_details.asp?item_no=S16245&q=+knife
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tenplay wrote: "In my backyard, I have an area roughly 20X30 that is covered by some blackberry vines, maple tree shoots, and gravel mixed in with the dirt.
What is best way to reclaim this area so that I can use it for a garden or lawn? I have no idea how it got to be this way before we moved onto the property. Thanks for any advice."
Scalp mow. Rake debris. Amend pH. Roto-till. Plant. Tend.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
First, sue the previous owner for "hidden defect".
Try mixing 6-10 inches of vegetable compost into the top 12 inches of soil and amend with worm castings. You can also top-dress with a good garden soil from your local suppliers.
Good luck and bend at the knees !
tenplay wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

The weeds will LOVE this treatment. He needs to dig and hack and sweat and curse for a season or two.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

I agree, you first must clean the mess up before you want to add soil amendments and fertilizers.
Since blackberries most frequently spread via the roots, rototilling would be your best option. 6 to 8 inches should do the trick. I'd suggest finding someone with a tractor and tiller attachment for this job. Prior to this however, it will be necessary for you to remove all the bramble and filth from the area (hire it done or experience a nice, long weekend using some power tools). You might even want to apply some non-selective herbicide prior to the cleanup, hopefully this would eliminate some of the clutter from returning from the roots.
Primarily the best method of getting your yard back in shape is to dress appropriately, drink lots of water when its hot, and dive into the first job needing done and don't stop until your finished. Good luck and have fun (if you've got kids, make it a family thing; a little hard work never hurt anyone).
JD
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Chemicals are for amateurs and hacks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

But a good BobCat(tm) works wonders for me. Scrape it all off the top and start over from scratch. If your topsoil's not that deep, you may end up scraping it all off -- careful.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I'd agree with that. And, while you're at it, you can dig a pond or three, and make a berm. Or, boim, as they say in NY.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

20X30 what? feet, yards, metres, cubits? It will make a difference to your costs by anything up to a factor of 10.

Apply gyphosate when growing strongly (spring or summer), dig out when dead, repeat dose if required. Just digging will not get all the blackberry roots, they will keep coming up for ages.

Investigate the top 6-12 inches of soil, its what you find there determines what you need to do. What sort of dirt? How much gravel? What sort of gravel? How deep is the top layer? What is underneath?

Depending on the nature of the soil and your budget improving it or replacing it may be the better option.
David
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.