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Soil. How good does it need to be, really?

I am renovating my whole garden. There's a lot to do!

I've got a range of soil conditions to deal with - some new beds that were under turf, others that were under paving, areas that have been wrecked by conifers leaching all the goodness and moisture out, others that have perennial weeds but decent soil, and so on. Right now I'm digging over some of the first two types. I need to raise the level by at least a couple of inches so will be bringing in topsoil, but am removing lots of half bricks and rubble as I go (filled two rubble sacks from about 2m square already). 

Anyway, I've come to a bit that seems to be pretty much comprised of old hardcore - too much rubble to remove, really. As weeds used to grow very happily up through the gaps in the former path, and I'll be adding topsoil too - will this be enough? It couldn't be called 'good' soil by any means, but will it be 'good enough'? Or am I just being lazy?image

'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
- Cicero


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,839

    Some plants do well in poor soil, especially wildflowers and weeds but if you want the more usual garden plants you really do have to get the soil right before you plant.  A bit of hard work now to clear crud and rubble and then lashings of well rotted garden compost and manure added will pay dividends over the life of your garden.  

    No need to import topsoil if you can get your hands on garden compost.  Ask if your local council has a communal heap and distributes the proceeds.

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,117

    Look up Beth Chatto's dry garden. There are a lots of plants that will grow in rocky, gravelly dry places, such as woody herbs like Thyme, Lavender and Rosemary. Centranthus Ruber didn't like the soil in my beds and sowed itself in my walls and terrace, so did Iberis.

    Here is a link to click on - 

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,299

    I think I may have used the wrong term image. By 'hardcore' I meant lots of little bits of rubble that would I guess have been compacted under the paving. It's not solid, especially now that I've dug it over and removed the largest bits. This is what it looks like now:


    But the picture is a bit misleading - it was quite muddy, so all the bit of rubble are covered in mud and looking quite soil-like. Most of those lumps are small bits of rubble. However, it's dug over and loose to about 1.5 spade depth. I was just asking really if I need to sieve out all the rubble and stones or if I  can just work with what I've got and improve it over time with topsoil / manure / compost. 

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • LG_LG_ Posts: 4,299

    PS it's shady, not dry (not boggy, but gets some run off from the patio and no sun). I am hoping to grow a hydrangea there, possibly. 

    'If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.'
    - Cicero
  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,354

    No, go with what you've got. If we sieved all the bits out of our garden the whole thing would sink by several feet. 

    A lot depends on what you want to achieve but something desirable will grow in whatever you have. You can always enrich pockets for anything that can't cope. I'm a great believer in planting to suit what you have rather than struggling to grow what doesn't want to growimage

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 23,117

    It's much better than I thought then. Also I was thinking it was sunny and dry. One and a half spade depths sounds pretty good. Some parts of my limestone rocky garden are only 6" deep.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,698

    I'd buy a pH testing kit and see what exactly went in under the path. It might be very acid or very alkaline.

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
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