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Soil improvement

I have just removed the top layer of a large corner of my lawn.  The lawn was laid by the builder on rough farm land 36 years ago and he put down some kind of ash.  The lawn has never been "nice" but serves a purpose.  What can I do to help cultivate the soil in my new flower bed?  It is ash type soil with clay underneath and needs help.  I have bags of good quality multipurpose compost which is really for my pots later on but could I use this or should I buy some soil or similar matter?


  • joslowjoslow Posts: 218

    This is a money question, the better the soil the better the plants. I would spend as much as I could afford to buy top soil. If money is tight can you find some free horse manure on freecycle or preloved etc.

    Or you could go for planting pockets, so everytime you want to plant a new plant, dig the hole and fill that with compost.

  • Matty2Matty2 Posts: 4,817

    I have just dug up some lawn for a flower bed and i garden on clay

    First you need to dig it over thouroughly. You make atrench and then dig the next row into the ttrench and so on replacing the last trench made with the soil from the first trench. As you dig put some farmyard manure (you can but bags of it in GC's or DIY stores) into the trench you are filling up'

    When this is done cover the top with soil improver - cheap compost is OK especially if it's peat free.

    Then leave the bed for a few weeks if you can - it gives you a chance to remove weeds poking through etc, then when you plant use farmyard manure, bone meal (root developmen for shrubs and a good sprinkling of Grow more also helps.

    Sorry there is no quick fix

  • marshmellomarshmello Posts: 683

    I'd agree with joslow - how deep are your pockets.

    You can use multi-purpose but it doesn't have a strong structure, therefore likely to disappear over time.

    • Top soil ( plentiful supply in Gardencentres - can be BUlk bought)
    • Homemade compost
    • Horse manure
    • Mushroom compost
    • Leaf mould

     Top soil most commonly used for this can kind of thing.


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 20,372

    I have clay and stony limestone and everytime I have made a bed I add loads of rotted manure and bags of cheap compost. But when we first did the part of the garden that is on top of the old farmyard we added a couple of lorry loads of topsoil, but of course, you won't need anything like that amount for one bed!

    Dordogne and Norfolk
  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    I added sharp sand for drainage and lots of compost and farm manure to improve it.


    The soil was very heavy clay but its now lovely and plants thrive in it!

  • punkdocpunkdoc Sheffield, Derbyshire border.Posts: 13,019

    Theres an old garden saying: "spend as much on the hole as the plant". The soil under the lawn will be poor do as much as you can to improve it.

    There are ashtrays of emulsion,
    for the fag ends of the aristocracy.
  • Brilliant replies, thank you. I will probably go for sharp sand and then soil and compost mix.

  • Zoomer44Zoomer44 Posts: 3,267

    imageIs there anything wrong with double digging in mushroom compost to improve the soil and providing a good base for new plants, happy to be wrongimage  but did that with a clay bed and plants are now thriving.

  • fairy54fairy54 Posts: 33

    Hi, I had turf laid in my rented out house, I'm back living in it now and the grass feels awful underfoot, lumpy stoney, not level any advice would be very helpful please?



  • Little hLittle h Posts: 7

    I improved my soil - which is quite hard and clay like -  using a lot of bags of Top Soil, Mulch and Compost. It really has made a massive difference as to what will survive in my soil and what will not. And i have even had some plants growing twice the size it says on the tin. Its a lot of humping around heavy bags and digging in but its worth it...It took me about a week of trips to the garden center and digging it all in bit by bit but you could always try ordering in bulk bags if you have a large area to cover. I had an area of roughly 3 meters by 5 meters and i used about 20 bags - needless to say i had a sore back afterwards!

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