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Double digging


I'm hoping for some advice. I am in the process of digging over narrow-ish (width between 1 metre to 1.7 metre, depending on which side) borders around my lawn. I have found a lot of rubbles and roots (there used to be laurel hedge on three sides) in the soil and just can't dig more than one fork depth. It's combination of a very clay soil and my endurance - double digging isn't made for a 50 year old female image

I hope to start planting in the autumn and wonder if this depth is sufficient for most plants?  I want flowering shrubs, climbers and perennials for medium to low maintenance and may want a couple of fruit trees on dwarf root stock.

Another thing I'd like to ask is if I need to have the borders 'rotavated'.  Although I'm trying to break up the clay soil and mix it with grits (various size, up to 1 centimetre I think), it is still pretty lumpy. I've looked at Homebase website to hire one and it being 90kg, I don't think I can handle that on my own.  I've read somewhere else in the forum that rotavator chops up weeds and therefore I'll end up with ten times more weeds.  But I'm digging up weeds as I dig over and thinking I might be able to hire someone to rotavate it for me.

I'd be grateful for some advice on these two questions.  Thanks!


  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 12,764

    If there has been a hedge there, I think the key is to improve the soil with some well rotted manure.

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  • SammymummySammymummy SurreyPosts: 198

    Thanks Verdun and punk doc. I think I can dig a bit deeper in some parts but it seems simply impossible in other parts as the fork hits something hard and big and there's no way round it. I will forget about the rotavating bit. I have read that the depth it digs is only about 20 centimetre so I knew it won't dig deeper, but I wanted it to break up the soil.  So you think it is ok to plant in lumpy soil?

    I have also read enough (!) about well rotted manure and am planning to get bags of them rather than getting pallet delivery, as my garden is higher than my patio and I can't transport tons of it on my back.

    Once I've dugged over the border, I will post the picture of my garden (probably no need - it's almost a perfect square of 10 x 10 metre with a 6 x 8 metre lawn in the middle) and ask for further advice about planting.  I have been collecting GW articles and clippings but am not sure if my ideas will work in practice.

  • KT53KT53 South WestPosts: 7,305

    I can't agree that a rotovator only stirs up weeds and the top few inches.....   Even my little Mantis will go down 8 to 9 inches, admittely I'm not on clay.  A professional rotovator will get in deeper than that.  One problem can be the formation of 'pan' in the clay below the rotovator dig depth, but I wouldn't think that would be a major problem if the rotovator is only used once.

    It would certainly be sensible to remove as much weed growth as possible before using a rotovator, but that's really no different to doing the same if hand digging.

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