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Is new topsoil needed?

I have recently moved into a new build property and have a decent sized back garden. I've heard lots of horror stories about new build gardens so would like to start right with my lawn and also I'm completely new to gardening.

It's not turfed or seeded currently and was rotovated by the housing developer a few weeks ago. My preference is to seed, mainly for cost reasons but also it's quite shady in the summer due to tree cover.

The soil is resonably level and drainage looks okay (haven't noticed any puddles after rain). There are quite a few stones in the soil which I presume will need removing.

Based on this and the attached photos do I need to add new topsoil (and if so how much?) or am I okay preparing and leveling the existing soil for grass seeding?



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  • JennyJJennyJ DoncasterPosts: 6,096

    I think if it were mine I'd be having a poke around to make sure there isn't a hard compacted layer underneath the rotovated layer (but then I'm a cynical old biddy). 

    Little stones/pebbles are fine to leave - they'll help with drainage.  just rake out any big ones when you come to level it for your lawn.  Be careful if you add any more soil - you want to keep the soil level below the bottom of the fence.  There aren't any gravel boards and if the wood ends up in contact with the soil it will tend to rot.


  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    JennyJ said:

    I think if it were mine I'd be having a poke around to make sure there isn't a hard compacted layer underneath the rotovated layer (but then I'm a cynical old biddy).

    In my first newish-build garden I poked around and ended up removing several 8'x4' sheets of rotting chipboard and plywood, and the world's supply of plastic sheeting! Do it now while you have the chance.
  • AnniDAnniD Posts: 9,609
    I agree, it's amazing what you find under a new build garden !
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 SomersetPosts: 9,254
    Also, when you've got your soil sorted out, make sure you get the grass seed suitable for shady gardens. There's different sorts available. 
  • madpenguinmadpenguin Isle of WightPosts: 2,422
    My Mum found a builders radio!!
    “Every day is ordinary, until it isn't.” - Bernard Cornwell-Death of Kings
  • DampGardenManDampGardenMan Posts: 1,054
    My Mum found a builders radio!!
    At least it wasn't a builder :smile:
  • FlinsterFlinster Posts: 883
    I found, amongst other things, a spade... the irony was not lost on me! 😂 All good advice, if you can take the soil to a fine tilth and it seems decent then I wouldn’t worry about top soil, but perhaps a dressing of blood/fish/bone before you seed.
  • NollieNollie Girona, Catalunya, Northen Spain.Posts: 5,656
    As well as the lawn (and I agee a bit of excavation to check there aren’t any nasties below is a good idea) think ahead about the practicalities. Do you need a shed? If so that will need a hard base. Where are you going to store the lawnmower, grass rakes etc?. Are you planning on a single expanse of grass forever or might you want to incorporate a seating area, some flower beds, shrubs, small trees or other things in the future? If so, its worth measuring the space and plotting out the positions of these first, then transferring that to the ground and marking out the various elements by knocking in some stakes and stretching string between them. You don’t need to do everything as once, but that way, you are only seeding the area you definitely want for a lawn. 
  • From the image you've posted, your lawn looks great compared most new builds! You might just be the only lucky one. But as everyone has said remove the larger stones and get the right seeds for your conditions.
  • KT53KT53 Posts: 6,423
    If you've just moved in to a new build and do find loads of rubbish buried in the garden, tell the developer to come and take it away.
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