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Topsoil help needed


after having enough of the clay soil in my garden I have started to dig some of it up to introduce plants that require good drainage.

i have dug various 12 inch deep areas but now have a dilemma.

can I fill these areas with jut unscreened topsoil or do I have to get screened as we'll because filing screened this deep will just cause mud baths (due to having little stones in etc)???



  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,260

    Digging holes in the clay will mean that even if you put well drained compost, you are in effect putting it in a clay pot sunk in the soil. I would add as much fibrous compost as you can get to the whole area and mix well in. Clay with a lot of added  humus can be very  fertile and productive.  If you want  to make separate beds for plants that require sharp drainage and sandy soil, consider raised beds. It is easier to plant plants suitable for the conditions, rather than trying to drastically alter it.

  • lee 3lee 3 Posts: 3

    Many thanks fidgetbones.

    i have masses of horse manure at my disposal. It's a mix of fresh and a couple of months old. would this help If I dug it in?

    also got a bit of sand. Would this do anything?

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,260

    I think the manure is too fresh. Use it in the compost heap mixed up with other stuff and leave it for a few months.  I can't see the sand being much use. Can you get a sack of peat or fine composted bark or other soil conditioner?

  • kjdintownkjdintown Posts: 42

    Hi lee 3, I wouldn't use fresh manure as this wont be good for your plants, I believe it 'burns' them in some way.  If you are collecting from a stable yard or the like, make sure you ask them where the oldest muck is.  It needs to be a good few months old, in fact, the older the better then you will be well thanked by your plants image

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,556

    if you can lay the fresh manure on areas you don't intend to cultivate in the short term, that's great, but don't use it near any , especially , young plants. If it's an area you're not planning to work in , say, this season, pile it one and let the worms etc do their best.


  • Steve 309Steve 309 Posts: 2,753

    Heavy clay is hell to dig, as I'm sure you've discovered. If you can possibly get the worms to do it for you (as Hostafan says), do.

    You might try council-produced compost from the recycling centre if you can't get well-rotted manure for this year.

  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,556

    we have , at best 4 -6 inches of soil over dense ,heavy clay. Worms are your friends. A spade is, erm , your killer.



  • Hostafan1Hostafan1 Posts: 34,556

    any organic matter you can get hold of, be it garden compost , farmyard/ stable manure etc , grab it and use it.


  • LorrainePLorraineP Posts: 218

    Mike, what is a 'spit'.  Is it a trench?

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Posts: 86,097

    A spit is the depth of the blade of your spade, so what Mike means is to dig it to that depth


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

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