Posted: 21/06/2013 at 11:42
I'm afraid that if you want to keep what is good, the way you describe is the best way to go. Take on a little bit at a time, but watch the weeds for flowering and stop them, you don't need another years seeds in the beds. You can dig the bubs up and replant them, it may in fact do them good especially daffodils and so on as they may well have become congested by now. The shrubs you need to give a good look at - are they plants woirth keeping? If so, then tidy up now, if they have flowered then a harder prune can be done now, or leave until the autumn. The same applies to perrenials, are they worth keeping? If so, tidy them and enjoy them now, then dig up and split in the autumn, replanting good bits shere you want them. Docks and hogweed are dreadful to get out, digging is the only answer if you don't want to use chemicals, I believe hogweed is a notifiable weed? I'm sure someone will correct me if that is not so.
The only other answer is just to dig the whole bed up, spray with glyphosphate and wait to replant - but then you have to risk losing what you don't yet know about, plus bulbs that you miss. Yu also have to look after the plants you have dug up.
There is no quick and easy way around this kind of replenishment and refurbishment., but I'll bet it will be wonderful when you are done. Buy a good variety of bath salts to put in the bath after each days work!