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Fixing a Landscapers terrible work.


 
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terria
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:49 am    Post subject: Fixing a Landscapers terrible work. Reply with quote

Hi, first post so hello all.I am a complete novice so bear with me if my wording is incorrect.

At the back of my house (south facing) there is a 10ft high wall at the bottom of the garden. Being in shade all the time it was a damp area and id say approx 10 years ago my father hired in a landscaper for ideas.So anyway the landscaper put in a raised bed two railway sleepers high about 1 meter out from the wall running the full length of the wall approx 13m.Threw in a few shrubs and a few climbers on trellis was paid well and off he went.

Looking back most of the shrubs never took off, those that did grew poorly and incredibly slow,mainly roots just grew across the surface, a few of the climbers did OK but growth was always terribly slow but we were none the wiser.This past couple of months i decided to tidy it up and hopefully rejuvenate it as i have taken an interest in the garden.So i started to dig and all i have hit is building site rubbish, huge amounts of large rock, paving slabs, tarmacadam, the sleeper cuts offs, yogurt pots galore, rock rock and more rock and what appears to me to be just subsoil, just straight off a building site.Now all of this rubbish is from around 2 inches down, i could understand if it were down a lot lower it could be for drainage but this is just terrible, so you can imagine there is very little if any proper topsoil in it.I have been making my way along the past few weeks clearing out most of the rubbish down to approx 16 inches.I reckon so far there is roughly 1.5 tonne of rubbish i have taken out i still have about 1/4 left to do.

My question is what are the correct steps to take now?With all the rubbish removed there is a fair reduction in volume of what is left, it looks quite gritty to me nearly subsoil like. Im not sure if i should just removed this and start from scratch with new topsoil as i have a skip? Should i just use what i have and improve it adding organic material?

What do you guys think i should do, i would like to get the groundwork done as well as i can before i go looking at planting?
Thank you for reading.
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kindredspirit
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I personally would get a lorryload of good topsoil before planting anything.

You can compare it to building a house; you have to get the foundations right first.

(Although, I can't talk because I used subsoil with my new garden and just added 6 lorryloads of 20 year old horse manure which I got for free.)

A lorryload of good topsoil will make your job a lot easier. Just shovel it in then.

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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kindredspirit is right get in a load of good quality topsoil and add organic matter if you can. If the bed is in shade you will need plants that tolerate shade also get a soil testing kit so you know what your'e dealing with.
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terria
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for the replies.

So are you saying that i should take out whatever soil is left after i take out all the rocks and put in new topsoil?

Can you tell me what depth i would be looking at for new soil? The bed is two sleepers high which i think works out at around 20 inches.

Do i need to lay it in a certain manner? Stones/Rock at the bottom some of the left over soil then new topsoil or do i just remove all and put in new soil?

Thank you once again.
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Foxylock
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

20 inches sounds like loads, if you have some stones at the bottom its no harm and will aid drainage. There's no point in going to Australia with the digging Laughing you'll have muscles on your muscles when you're finished.
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dinahdabble
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with any advise that saves lots of work, and if you are not sure about how good the drainage is it can't hurt to leave a good layer of grit and rubble in the bottom. Be carefull there is not too much morter and old cement dust in the rubble if you're going to be putting acid loving plants in it. The soil PH testing kit sound like a good idea if your not sure what they filled it with. What are you hopeing to plant?
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terria
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

At the moment i don't know what im going to plant as i said im a novice. I just ordered a couple of books to read over the coming months to get an idea of what i may like.The climbers and creepers look mediocre they cover the wall OK but i think they can be improved.The planting that was put in looks very flat/one dimensional some texture and color i think would really improve it.Il read up on shade tolerant plants to get more ideas.

Im still unsure as to what you guys reckon for the soil issue?


Should i work with what is there, get a PH test kit and see what i am dealing with?
There were literally zero worms/insects when i was digging.

Are you saying i should take out what is there and put new topsoil in?
If so do i need to lay it in a certain manner.

In regards to depth how deep should it be.The bed is two sleeprs high (20 inches), so how low do i need to dig out?

Cheers.
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michael brenock
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2009 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

top soil is hard to get and good top soil is harder. get only the best and to make the best use of it my advise would be to spare the top soil for holes for the individual shrubs wher you are going to plant them. Bury the rubble deepest that might act as drainage. next put the poor soil over it and level off. Dig out holes 2ft (60cms) diam and 45 cms (18inches) deep and fill the hole with the top soil as you plant the shrubs. it is important to check the pH or acidity of soil if you intend planting heathers or rhododendrons or azaleas. Mushroom compost(spent) though high pH ,is an excellent compost for filling up areas in a garden where good top soil is not available.
michael brenock horticultural advisor (retired)
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frengers80
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2009 11:06 pm    Post subject: re topsoil Reply with quote

hi,if you can find a good supplier of topsoil,try and go see it before its delievered,its usually to late when its tipped on your driveway.I get a lot of topsoil from one guy in dubin and has never let me down.Nothing worse than arriving at a garden and finding a few tonne of 'muck' to be shifted.If they are good you should be able to get a mix made up before delievery.Usually topsoil,sharp sand and peat/compost.the should mix it up to your requirements,i usually get a 40/30/30% mix plus a few bags of good compost should do the trick.
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Alba
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am definetely no expert here but i have heard that you shouldnt use old railway sleepers because they could have carcinogenic substances in them. This is especially true if you plan on growing food stuffs as the substances seep into the soil, into the veggies then into the end user.
Like i say I am no expert so if there is anyone who can add to this or dispel this then please do
Thank you
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frengers80
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:28 pm    Post subject: railway sleepers Reply with quote

hi,old sleepers have tar in them to help preserve them,would use 'new' sleepers for making up beds etc.
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