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How do I prepare a garden that has never been dug. It is like concrete. Is there anything I could buy to break the soil up to help me dig it over.


By Joanii1

United Kingdom Gb

Hard soil, previous owners have not done any gardening andf have continuously took off the top layer.



Are there plants growing in this awful soil? I ask this because the only thing that comes to mind (apart from a pick-axe, lol) is to hire a rotavator. This would break up the hard soil - is it clay by the way? Then you should leave it to let the frost break it up further for you. In the meantime, get composting and try to find a source of manure to rot down. In the spring, dig in all this organic material along with horticultural grit. This will improve the soil and add nutrients so that your plants will thrive.
Any time after all this that you dig a hole to plant anything, dig it bigger than is necessary and back-fill with compost. In the future, mulch every year with compost in the winter or early spring before the plants pop up.

Good luck with your garden! Boo to the previous owners for landing you with this soil!

13 Jan, 2009


How about covering with a good depth of farmyard manure now(depends on the size of course) Leave until Spring when the worms will have worked up through the soil a bit then follow Spritz advice. I have done this in the past on a site hardened to concrete by builders.

14 Jan, 2009


Yes to all the above. I would also advise trying to dig whenever the soil is workable ie. not frozen or waterlogged. Don't leave the job til Summer or it will be impossible.You will probably need to work at it for quite a while so take it easy and don't overdo it, particularly if you're not used to digging. Buy a good sharp spade too. Or how about marking out one bed at a time and trying to get it done gradually over a couple of years? Mulch the other bits to let the worms join in.Or rent some friends/relatives!

14 Jan, 2009 your advice and will combine it with others who responded to my question. Many thanks. I will keep you informed on my progress. joanii1

14 Jan, 2009


Hello Wyeboy, Thanks for the advice and I will try your suggestions. I've got a big job on my hands but I will keep you and everyone else who gave tips, informed of my process. joani1

14 Jan, 2009


Hello Volunteer, Great to get all the advice and I will follow the suggestions to the letter. I will keep you all informed of my progress. Its great to have a site like this to get real advice. I am an avid veiwer of gardening programmes but they are not realistic to 'beginners' needs, as this site is.
Many thanks. joanii1

14 Jan, 2009


I'm not only a novice gardener but also, a novice computer user. How do I reply to the advice sent by other people? Joanii1

14 Jan, 2009


You just did, Joanii! Thanks for responding.

If you wanted to send a member a private message that only he/she could read, not a public one, then click on their 'avatar' and you will find a link to send one.

14 Jan, 2009


One point, use a SHARP fork rather than trying to get a spade in.
Word of warning about cultivators. Many moons ago I tried to use one on something similar. Well, try as I might I could not get it to dig through the compacted soil. In the end I had to fork over the area and then use the machine to break it up further. And at the time I was well used to using a cultivator.
Final thunk. Do not do too much in one go if you are not used to digging. There is nothing more off putting at the beginning of a gardening career than back ache. Little and often is the way to go.
Best of luck. Been there, done it, it CAN be done!

14 Jan, 2009


Thanks to everybody who responded to my query. I'm feeling more confident now and straining at the bit to get started. I'm going to start with small patches at the same time order lots of manure for the rest of the garden.Come spring I will hopefully have prepared/dug the entire garden then buy soil to raise the level back to normal. Cannot wait. Thanks for everything to all you avid gardeners. joanii

15 Jan, 2009

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