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Creating new flower beds - question on soil

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  • Sounds just like my garden... the old guy he had my house used to have a tv repair business so I regularly dig up old tvs, bricks, pipes - all sorts of rubbish. We also had a driveway under part of the lawn. I make the effort to dig through the rubble for key plants which will last years and anchor the garden (large shrubs). But when it comes to perennials and annuals I don't make so much effort and they seem to perform quite well. I do mulch the borders in spring and autumn though to keep them fed. Good luck, I hope thing work out.
  • Songbird-1Songbird-1 Posts: 1,856
    edited February 2020
    Hello @gilla.walmsley and welcome to the forum.

    I think it’s worth the time and effort to get the soil right before you start any planting. We moved house 14 months ago and the garden had two shrubs ( never pruned and allowed to grow to tree size), and borders filled with what looked like fish tank gravel. Once we removed that, and started digging down the compacted ground, we got to the sub level pretty quickly. The first year we took our time to break up soil, enrich with mpc and top soil, hoed over and over again to break it all down, mixed up any left over gravel we’d missed and planted according to where the sun rose and set in the garden. One patch still still has some gravel in which comes up to the surface when it rains, but we’ve planted some Monardas there which have done remarkably  well.

    As others have said, take a bit at a time, enrich the ground well, leave it fallow a while, and you should end up with some half decent soil. Also, other posters have raised some good ideas for you to make raised beds. It takes time and patience but you will get there.Enjoy and Good luck.
  • Thanks all for your advice and experience, this is really helpful. I'll do as everyone suggested and work on a small area at a time. I've got down to about 60cm and removed as many of the large stones/rubble as I can, it's good to know that I probably don't have to go deeper than that for my average perennials. Once I've finished de-stoning the area I'm working on the next step for me will definitely be adding lots of manure to hopefully improve the nutrients in the soil. A gardener friend of mine recommended mushroom compost - not sure why. I'm definitely planning to plant some trees too but suspect this will need to wait until next year - partly as I think as soon as it warms up this south facing ground just becomes baked rock that I won't be able to dig through and also because it will give me time to see how the soil is after working on this small area now, planting mostly just annuals in it this year.

    @Fairygirl I look forward to my Popeye muscles by the end of this year  :D
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 2,275
    That's what we like. Courage and determination! Good luck.
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 35,520
    @gilla.walmsley - just remember the old saying  'how do you eat an elephant?'
    A bit at a time.
    Gardens are much the same  :)
    Starting with something near the house, where you're constantly seeing it, is also a good tip. It keeps the momentum up when you're jaded. 

    Not that I have any experience of that of course..... :#
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


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