In a newly acquired but established garden, carefully assess the existing shrubs or trees with a view to retaining those of good quality or suitable location. Wait until spring if it is suspected that there are stocks of bulbs or good quality perennial plants that have died back for winter. Old shrubs and hedges that are not in good condition and not to be retained should be taken out, roots and all. Large trees may require expert attention.
Clear the planting site of stones, masonry, old concrete, iron, bits of timber, old tree roots or any other rubbish. Cut down tall weeds and grass, with a strimmer. Spray the area with Roundup.
If weeds such as bindweed, docks or nettles re-appear, spray the area again or use Brushwood Killer. If bracken is a problem, use Asulox – available from agricultural merchants.
Do not waste effort cultivating the ground until all vegetation is dead; only then should it be dug, or ploughed and rotavated, if the area is large.