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I have recently purchased some land from the local council which has brambles and weeds around the edge and what looks like over grown meadow grass in the middle. I have cut the bulk of the brambles down and was going to dig out the roots and treat the ground with a chemical. I want to turn this extra garden into a lawned area and I want to level it off so I was going to hire a rotavator but I am not sure if I need to remove the existing grass before I rotavate or just go straight over it.
If you've got a grass like twitch, with roots spreading though the soil, you'll break it up and the bits will re-grow. If you want to use a chemical get some glyphosate and spray growing weeds. If you were to poison the soil in some way it would affect what you want to grow as well as weeds. I'd let the bramble re-grow if it's going to and spray that when it's got enough growth for glyphosate to work on.
DON'T ROTOVATE !!!!! This is really my most sincere advice. We took on an overgrown allotment a few years ago, got it cleared, then rotovated - what a disaster! All it does is chop up those perennial weeds into tiny little bits, all of which root and make huge great plants you will never, ever get out in ten years of weeding. We have read and talked about this often in this site, and the overwhelming advice is, do not rotovate. Cover the ground with black plastic and use a glyphosphate weed killer if you don't mind chemicals, it is the least of the eveils out there, be patient and wait until things are dead - or deadish in the case of some weeds that you cannot erradicate. The overgrown meadow part will probably respond well to constant mowing, it is surprising how well good grass comes back when the weeds get their heads chopped off, grass doesn't mind but most other things do. I would suggest you stick with the chop and glyphosphate route for the rest. For brambles you do best to dig them out and treat with root stump remover, I hate chemicals too, but there is a place for their use on very rare occasions, and this is probably one of them. Have fun, and enjoy.
I would spray it all with glyphosate. When it's dead it's not hard to rake it all up. Then rotavate. I know it'll take longer but it's worth it. Our lawn used to be an old farmyard that a previous owner had added earth to. When we bought our house it had been empty for 6 years. The ?lawn was full of nettles brambles and weeds. We hired professionals to deal with it as we were busy doing the house. They just mowed it all then rotavated, then sowed grass and I regretted it for years afterwards. Especially as it had bindweed as well which got into the beds.