When planning to clean up the yard around a home that has been neglected due to vacancy or foreclosure, it can often feel like you're taming the wild. The grass is high. The bushes are very thick and have no shape. Some may have broken branches or twines woven throughout. The weeds may be so tall that they have seeded and flowered. While it may seem like a tall chore to return the yard to a well manicured property, it can be done with the proper tools and some patience. The best way to tackle a large overgrown yard is to use one power tool at a time, moving either front to back or right to left, depending on the layout of the property. If the property has weathered a number of storms, there may be several different layers of debris. While many local governments are strictly enforcing the zoning ordinances for tall grass and yard maintenance, there are still properties that need extra attention due to long periods of unchecked growth.
Be prepared for wildlife. Insects, birds, small animals and snakes may have made their home on the property and may be plentiful. Power equipment may make grass, leaves and branches fly, so be sure to wear long sleeves, work gloves, long pants, steel toed-shoes, safety glasses and a hat.
Gather together all of the necessary tools. Plan to use trash bags, a bruschcutter, lawn mower, weed eater, hedge trimmer and leaf blower. Depending on the property and its condition, a chain saw may also be necessary. Be sure that there is enough fuel of the proper mixture for each piece of lawn maintenance equipment. Walk through the property and clean up any debris, trash, bottles or items that could damage or be damaged by the mower or other equipment. Keep a covered bottle of cold water handy to stay hydrated in hot weather.
Weed eaters are a good starting point for any border areas. Walk along the sidewalk, driveway and fence lines. Circle trees, lampposts, gardens and any yard protrusions. Be watchful of any downed power lines or hidden objects.
If the grass is too high to tackle with a lawn mower, use a bruschcutter or a weed eater to first cut down the grass to a manageable height. If there is significant length to the clippings from the bruschcutter, use a leaf blower or a rake to remove the debris before mowing. If the grass is low enough, use a lawn mower to cut it to a comfortable height. The first cut should be left a little higher than normal, since the grass roots may be long and have not seen the sun for quite some time. This will help it to grow back and fill in green and healthy.
After the grass is a manageable height, the shrubs and trees should be trimmed. Begin by removing any damaged branches. Use a chain saw if necessary to make a clean cut of any dead branches or trees. Cut up the logs into smaller pieces for firewood or kindling. Trim all bushes into shape using hedge trimmers, moving from bottom to top. Take off small amounts at a time to avoid damage to the plant material and to ensure straight lines.
Once all of the trimming and cutting has been done for the first round, use a rake or leaf blower to clean up the debris. Compost or properly dispose of all yard waste.