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Front garden, resoiling

Just wondering if anyone had any tips for removing the top layer of soil in our terraced front garden? (120 cm x 300 cm) quite hard and rocky. I'm hoping to replace with top soil and compost I've bought and plant hedges.



  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    When you say 120 x 300 , is that the length and depth? What sort of height is the terrace?
    The more height you have, the more you might need to dig down, but it's hard to be definite. The hedge will need some decent soil to get established too. Well rotted manure is better for creating a good growing medium in difficult soil. 
    Unfortunately, there isn't usually an easy method other than muscle power, but ground is generally better to work when it's damp. A pickaxe is useful  ;)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • Thanks for responding! Yes, that's length and depth. 
    It's a two story terraced. 
    I figured as much! Probably just have to get my hands dirty and spend some time digging. 
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    Unless you're prepared to get a mini digger in - if you even have room for that - there isn't really any other way but elbow grease. 
    Depending on how rough it is, the other option is to stick loads of well rotted manure on it and leave it until spring, but that might not suit you if you want to get hedging in soon. If you're using bare root hedging [it's coming into that season] it can be easier because you don't need quite so much prep in terms of planting holes, but it also depends on the type of hedging you're using.  :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • JoeXJoeX Posts: 1,783
    edited September 2021
    1.2mx3m? Probably two spits deep (about 60cm)?  Then fill with delivered topsoil?

    Thats a fair amount of work by hand.  I’m pretty fit and do occasional weight lifting and would divide it up into 20min chunks of digging, however much you get done in that time.  

    Then take a break, sit down or do watering or pruning (anything that doesn’t involve the half-crouch and back hingeing that digging does, after 20mins, come back to it.  

    Split that up into morning and afternoon with something unrelated around lunchtime, and over two or three days depending on how you progress and then you shouldn’t ache so much when it’s complete.

    Also consider getting smaller (slightly more expensive) bags of topsoil that are easier to lift.

    A masonry chisel and mallet can be useful if there is “something” rocky in there that you can’t get out.

    Basically, whatever it costs it’s not worth a back injury!
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 9,594
    If there's road access you might be able to get a load of topsoil tipped directly onto it, after you've done the digging out of the old stuff.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 53,955
    Just be aware that you'll need to make sure the ground, once the top layers are excavated,  is suitable to add the soil into. If it's solid clay, for example, it won't help, and any hedging you put in could struggle, especially over winter. 
    Make sure it's all forked over and loosened up, and if it's sticky, it would be better to add more organic matter, rather than just topsoil.
    Spending time on the prep, pays dividends in the long run   :)
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,405
    edited September 2021
    It is hard to say without seeing it, but I assume the soil is hard and rocky but isn't *pure* rocks or something like that. On that basis 30cm of topsoil is sufficient. Break up the existing subsoil after excavating down and pull out any large rocks (fill voids with finer excavated material). Then lay your topsoil, and finally mulch the surface with well rotted manure lightly working it in as you plant.
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