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Help! Novice gardener and poisoned soil :(

Hi everyone, looking for some guidance as I've recently bought a property in the north-east that has a small triangle of 'ground' where the previous owner went crazy ( I assume) and cut down the 3 trees to stumps, and covered the ground with weedkiller. One of the stumps is resprouting and the ground is now covered with a sort of soggy moss interspersed with dandelions and something else common that I don't know the name of! My questions are:

1. if I attempt to grow something in the soil, will it be edible or will there still be weedkiller chemicals lurking and in that case is it better to just go for decorative plants that I can dig in for a few years to build up soil nutrients? Or is the presence of these weeds evidence enough that the weedkiller has gone?

2. I was planning to put raised beds in the top and right-hand 'corners' of the triangle, and have a square of lawn in the middle but the garden is bordered by 3 story house on one side and 10 foot wall on the other. Is it even worth trying to plant nice things given the amount of daylight hours we get in the north and all the shade?

3. Given its now October and I've got two young kids, should I just broadcast a green manure asap and leave it all to next March? If I do that then do I do the whole lot and plant grass seed next year?

Grateful for any help at all!  


  • It's highly unlikely they used any residual weedkiller. The main one won't remain active in the soil and poses no harm to crops. It won't prevent new growth either
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601
    This is a good time of year to get some work done. You could get the tree stumps out or, if they are too big, get professionals in to grind or remove them. Then you can dig over and improve the soil ready for planting in the spring. You can build the raised beds, too, and start planning what to plant. Lots of things thrive in shade, so time for some research indoors before you have to venture out into the weather.
  • Thanks for the replies! So do I dig the whole lot over now? Or just the ‘lawn’ area?
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 85,989
    edited October 2019
    Can you show us some photos of the area ... then we can help you decide your options. 

    And a pic of the unidentified weed would be good too 


    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • Ok here’s what I have - not amazing and I think the unknown weed has only popped up very recently!!
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 85,989
    Wow!  So much potential ... such lovely stone. Deep envy here ...

    Im just going to bed now ... but I’ll go to sleep dreaming of possibilities 🛌
    How old are your children? 

    Gardening in Central Norfolk on improved gritty moraine over chalk ... free-draining.

  • AstroAstro Posts: 418
    Usually moss indicates the soil is moist and as pointed out by yourself in a shaded spot. I'd imagine as it is at the moment it would favour more damp shade like planting. Perhaps grass might struggle if you do plan a lawn.  
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,918
    I'd agree - it's a lovely little area to work on @la.turner60 but I also assume you want some grass for your children to play on? It won't be brilliant, but you can certainly have some grass as you can use turf or seed specifically suitable for shade. You'll have to accept that, at times, it won't look great, and might be a bit soggy though! It will just need thoroughly dug over and prepped in readiness. You'll probably need to put in and edging of some kind too, if there isn't one.
    Are you wanting to grow food crops? I think you need to decide on the type you want, and build your beds in the most suitable areas. Many need a sunnier site, so work out what you want to grow, and then position the beds accordingly. You can also grow lots of crops in with ornamentals. I bung lettuce, chives and chard in with other planting.
    If you want tomatoes, you'll probably need to grow them undercover, so think about a little greenhouse of some kind. Those little plastic ones don't last long, but you can get them very cheaply just now, and would be good up against the walls for extra protection and warmth. They need securely tied in though  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
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