20 Things to Cleanup For Your Garden’s Fresh Start

Is your garden feeling a bit cluttered and chaotic? An overwhelming tangle of old decorations, busted tools, and overgrown weeds taking over? Don’t worry – we’ll help you get it under control.

We’ve looked at tons of messy gardens and identified the 20 biggest clutter problems keeping them from looking their best. From big lawns that need too much water to tangled hoses and cords lying everywhere, here are some unnecessary items that you need to throw away from your garden.

1. Invasive Plants

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Mint, bamboo, ivy—these aggressive growers may have sounded like a good idea at some point, but they quickly turn into invasive bullies that outcompete your more desirable plants. Left unchecked, these invasives rapidly take over garden beds by spreading through underground runners and self-seeding. 

Remove them completely or at minimum, contain them with physical barriers like root barriers. Your future self will thank you.

2. Dated Garden Furniture

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Rusty, splintered, or faded garden furniture is not only an eyesore, but it can be straight up dangerous with protruding hazards or instability. 

Don’t settle for dilapidated decor that makes your backyard look like a junkyard. Invest in some quality, low-maintenance new pieces that invite you to truly relax and unwind in an appealing outdoor living space. A little purposeful furniture can go a long way!

3. Unused Pots & Planters

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Those forgotten pots aren’t just occupying valuable real estate, they can also enable mosquito breeding if cracked and collecting water. In fact, the American Mosquito Control Association reports1 that items that harbor standing water (like potted plant trays, for example) can propagate thousands of biting mosquitoes per week.

Do a planter audit and rehome anything you’re no longer using to make room for more intentional plantings.

4. Broken or Damaged Garden Tools

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Those rusty pruners lying in the shed? That cracked plastic planter that’s slowly degrading? Let’s be honest—you’re never going to use (or repair) those items again. 

Broken and damaged garden tools are a common culprit of clutter that serves no purpose other than being an eyesore. Not only do they take up precious storage space, but attempting to use them can actually hinder your gardening tasks and potentially cause injury. 

5. Excessive Lawn

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While a lush green lawn has its charms, that expanse of turf grass comes at a major cost—excessive watering, fertilizing, mowing and maintenance. 

Instead of having a big grass lawn, use plants and groundcovers that are made for your local area. Or use hard surfaces like stone or concrete. This way, you won’t need as much water, fertilizer, and maintenance. Plus, it looks nicer and provides homes for insects and animals.

6. Broken Hardscaping

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Nothing ruins a carefully curated garden vibe quite like cracked pathways, leaning retaining walls, or other busted hardscaping elements. These dysfunctional features aren’t just an aesthetic problem—they can pose legitimate safety hazards and become open invitations for weeds to encroach. 

Do yourself a favor and repair or replace any hardscape in disrepair for better form and function.

7. Excessive Mulch Buildup

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Mulch is beloved by gardeners for its moisture retention and weed-suppressing properties, but too much of a good thing can be an issue. 

When mulch accumulates over 4 inches deep, it can actually impede proper air and water flow to your plants’ root zones. Make it an annual practice to refresh mulch beds by raking and removing the old layers before re-applying a clean 2-3 inch topping for best results.

8. Dead or Diseased Plants

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We’ve all experienced the disappointment of a plant that just…didn’t make it, despite our most tender loving care. But holding onto those dry, ratty remains doesn’t just clutter up your garden beds—it can also harbor disease, fungi, and pests that spread to your other plants. 

Make sure to  pull those goners to make space for some fresh, healthy replacements that will reinvigorate your whole garden’s vibe.

9. Excessive Garden Decorations

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While a well-placed garden gnome or sundial can add charm, too many decorative elements scattered about can quickly make your garden feel cluttered and chaotic. Stick to just a few meaningful pieces that truly complement your garden’s overall design and vibe. 

10. Unused Structures

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Old sheds, greenhouses, arbors—if you’re not actively using these structures, they’re nothing more than wasted space hogs in your garden or backyard. 

Unused buildings often fall into disrepair, attracting pests, leaks, and general unsightliness while occupying prime garden real estate. Do an honest assessment of what you’re truly utilizing, and consider removing (or repurposing) any neglected structures to open up possibilities.

11. Excessive Compost Piles

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While compost is amazing for building nutrient-rich garden soil, unwieldy or excessive piles are just asking for trouble. One or two properly contained tumbler or bin systems is generally sufficient for most home gardens. 

12. Overgrown Trees & Shrubs

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As lovely as mature landscaping can be, overgrown and untamed trees or shrubs left to their own devices quickly turn into issues. These aggressive growers can rapidly overcrowd garden beds, choke out plantings, and create unwanted shady areas. 

Don’t let them bully the rest of your garden! Give them a good pruning to restore shapely form and open things back up. Sometimes, removing the bullies altogether is the only option.

13. Inefficient Irrigation Systems

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If your current irrigation system involves dragging hoses across the yard and re-positioning sprinklers every week, it’s time for an upgrade. Those antique sprinklers and hoses aren’t just a hassle—they’re also incredibly wasteful when it comes to water use. Invest in modernizing with efficient drip or soaker hose systems to keep your plants properly hydrated with less effort and minimal runoff.

14. Clashing Decor Pieces

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Too many contrasting materials, colors, and styles in the garden creates a cluttered, chaotic look that’s anything but restful. Bringing cohesion with a simple, complementary palette of decor pieces allows your garden’s lush plantings to shine as the true stars, rather than competing with a jumbled assortment of accent items vying for attention.

15. Low-Quality Soils

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While you can’t exactly toss out all of your existing soil, you can take steps to improve its quality—because poor, nutrient-depleted dirt means subpar plant growth and endless frustrations. If starting new garden beds, invest in quality planting mixes from the start. For established areas, maintain existing soil’s health regularly by incorporating nutrient-rich compost and organic amendments to build better growing conditions.

16. Excessive Paving

Too much hardscaping in the form of patios, walkways, and other paved surfaces does more than just eliminate potential planting areas—it can negatively impact drainage and contribute to radiant heat buildup. When possible, opt for permeable hardscaping materials like gravel or pavers and intersperse ample plantings to create a balanced environment that’s both functional and lush.

17. Tangled Hoses & Cords

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Lengths of hose or extension cords strewn haphazardly across walkways, patios, and garden beds don’t just look unsightly—they’re legitimate tripping hazards waiting to happen. Install tidy hose reels, cord covers, or concealed channels to neaten up those unruly tangles and keep your pathways safe and clear for enjoyable strolls through the garden.

18. Chemical Overload

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While synthetic pesticides and herbicides may seem like a quick fix for combating pests or weeds, overuse of these chemicals can actually do more harm than good—disrupting delicate soil ecologies and harming beneficial insects. Focus instead on building healthy soil through sustainable practices like composting and organic soil amendments to create an ecosystem that’s resilient and balanced.

19. Outdated Landscape Lighting

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Switching out your old garden lights for new LED fixtures can make your garden look better, feel safer, use less electricity, and prevent light from going up into the sky at night. 

Place the new lights carefully to highlight your favorite plants and trees without having extra light shining where you don’t want it. Just a few new lights in the right spots can completely change how your garden looks and feels after dark.

20. General Clutter & Junk

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Sometimes the biggest garden mess is simply disorganized chaos and disorder caused by excess…stuff. Make it a habit to do regular clean-ups and purges of any random debris, empty containers, tools, and just general clutter that doesn’t have a purposeful home. 

A tidy, consolidated garden with clean lines is far more inviting to linger in than a junky, disheveled space.

A Tidy Garden, A Clear Mind

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Getting rid of clutter in your garden is about more than just making it look neater. It’s about creating a relaxing space you actually want to spend time in. An overcrowded, messy garden fills you with stress and anxiety instead of peace and happiness.

A study2 from the Journal of Environmental Psychology reveals that possession “clutter” has a staggeringly negative impact on our psychological home and overall subjective well-being.

The research found individuals struggling with disorganized, excessively cluttered spaces experience a jarring 35% drop in feelings of life satisfaction compared to those with clean and organized environments.

By letting go of unnecessary items in your garden, you’ll instantly uplift your outdoor oasis into a rejuvenating sanctuary.

Sources

  1. https://www.mosquito.org/mosquito-control/
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494416300159
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Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.