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applying topsoil


By Ruth

berkshire, United Kingdom Gb

i have just moved into a new house with a lovely garden but it is full of weeds and the beds are full of stoney soil-my husband says to pick out all the stones but that is almost an imosibile task because the soil is fully incooperated with stones of all sizes. do i remove all the weeds and then apply topsoil or what is the best thing to do?



With regards to the weeds, I'm afraid you can't just 'bury' them under more soil - they will soon pop up again and their roots will be REALLY deep!! Re the stones - they are not necessarily a problem. No plant will die because there are a few stones in the soil (unless you plant a young plant directly on a big stone, perhaps). If I were you, I would just remove a few stones when I plant something, give the plant a bit of compost maybe, but I wouldn't stress too much about stoney soil.

With regards to the topsoil, I must admit this is one of my pet hates. Top soil is technically regarded as the top few inches of the soil INCLUDING (and this is the important bit) all the living 'soil biota' - that is worms, bugs, fungi & bacteria (beneficial to plants) and organic matter/humus. If you buy 'topsoil' in a sack from a garden center, it contains none of these things and is therefore not, technically, topsoil!!! As soon as these things are removed from the soil it ceases to be topsoil! I know this sounds terribly pedantic, but the problem is it may look like good stuff, but it could easily be totally dead subsoil that you are buying - there is no way of knowing.

I would recommend working with the soil you have already. IF you feel it is poor, then give it a couple of good mulches of well rotted manure or compost and the worms will carry down into the soil.

Sorry for the rant - hope this helps! ;-)

25 Apr, 2008


Not a rant, Sid, just good advice and information! The only thing I would say is that having lots of stones makes planting anything very hard. I would gradually remove them, certainly as you plant, pop the bigger ones in a bucket to 'lose' maybe in a corner somewhere. Apart from the planting difficulty, It also makes seed-planting difficult, if when you rake the 'tilth' you just rake up stones..You could have a stone removal party - get everyone who comes to remove some! lol..

25 Apr, 2008


Maybe consider Xeriscape. If stony soil is common in your area, indigenous plants will grow in it readily. One advantage of Xeriscape is less site work for new gardens, definitely less to maintain. You can xeriscape the entire site first, gradually clear and create stoneless quality-soil beds one at a time at your own convenience.

26 Apr, 2008


Hi Barrierisland can you explain Xeriscape to those like me in UK unfamiliar with term.?

26 Apr, 2008


Hi Bonkersbon! Your wildlife pond could be done this way. Xeriscape is traditional landscaping using plants indigenous to the area, and leaving the soil pretty much as it is naturally. Think what grew wild on your lot 100 years ago. Advantages: less work to prepare soil (leave stones in place); less $ spend on amending soil; plants native to the area are almost foolproof; omit the cost of buy/try to see what grows; uses less water. Xeriscape lawns are mandatory now in dry US areas (Arizona, parts of Florida) because it conserves water. Ideal choice for rocky soil and of course, barrier, sandy, Vodka is cheaper than water on some of these islands..... You can do the same bed formations etc, just use native plants.

26 Apr, 2008

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