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New build garden (aka clay pit)

We moved into a new build December 2016 and were eager to get growing our own - daunted by the prospect of digging up our brand new lawn we opted for several planters, which worked ok but made it very difficult to mow the lawn and ultimately weren't really big enough for what we wanted to grow. Now we would like to dig in some raised beds (my parents have some old bricks from an extension we were going to use) but have recently discovered the joys of new build gardens, ie that there is no soil only rubble and clay under the turf. 

My question really is how we should go about making raised beds out of bricks (do they need foundations? how tall should we make them?) and what is the best way of breaking up  the clay? Also I'm torn about where to erect them - last year we grew up the right hand fence which pretty much gets blasted with sun all day in the summer or to level out the bottom of the garden and build there where there will be partial shade. The sun sits in the gap between the houses at the back pretty much all day so I assume we are south facing? Left hand fence is pretty much in shade all day bar a couple of hours in the early morning.

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  • This is a problem that you shouldn’t have and that unfortunately we see time and time again. 

    New build houses have by law to have a certain depth of top soil.  I would have a chat with your lawyer or the CAB about it - there isn’t a time limit on this. The builders will be forced to do it again but properly or you may be able to reach a compromise either with money or with bags of soil that you can use for your raised beds. 

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  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 7,648

    GARDEN AREAS
    (up to 20m from the habitable parts of the home)
    9.2 - S5
    Garden areas shall be free from obstructions beneath the surface 
    Old foundations, concrete bases and similar obstructions occurring within 300mm of the finished ground surface should be removed.

    9.2 - S6
    Garden areas shall be adequately prepared for cultivation 
    Construction rubbish and debris should be removed from garden and other areas around the home.

    The ground around the home can be compacted by machinery and storage of materials during construction as well as when topsoil is being replaced and this can affect the structure of the soil and its draining capability. Where this occurs within 3m of the home appropriate action should be taken to suitably restore the drainage characteristics of the soil.

    Any ground disturbed during construction should be re-graded to conform to the general shape of the adjacent ground.

    Subsoil should not be placed over topsoil and any topsoil disturbed should be reinstated. Garden areas should be provided with topsoil to a thickness of not less than 100mm. The topsoil should not contain contaminants which are likely to present a hazard to users of the garden area.

    LANDSCAPING 
    9.2 - S8
    Planting shall be completed in a manner appropriate for the site conditions and layout
    If landscaping is specified, the work should be carried out and completed in a competent professional manner. Landscaping should meet with the guidance given in the Design section of this Chapter.

    The NHBC recommendations on the protection and planting of trees should also be followed. See Chapter 4.2 'Building near trees' (each section).


    These are the current NHBC standards, they might help, if you choose to complain.

    Time is never time at all
    You can never ever leave
    Without leaving a piece of youth
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  • Thanks for all the advice and the guidelines (didn't know there were any for the garden!) Really I'm looking for some space to grow vegetables, I like looking at flowers but there's nothing better than going out and picking your dinner fresh out the ground! 

  • Hi  - why don't you use railway sleepers or similar type of planks to make the beds instead bricks? You don't need foundations at all and these can easily be removed should you change our mind. 

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