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Bridgend, United Kingdom Gb


I've built a border for flowers/shrubs so now need top soil to raise the height of the surface. I've been promised some that a person has cleared from his garden on some project he has been doing. Is there anything I need to look for in this soil so that I don't get rubbish.

Do I need to add anything to it?

I notice people selling top soil on the internet for around £60 per tonne delivered. Would that be a better route?




Buying in topsoil is always a risky business - you want it screened (for weed fragments such as knotweed, bindweed, couch) and graded ( small stones only) and that works out dearer. If you buy the cheapest, it might just be motorway spoil, no way of knowing.

Ask the person who's offered you topsoil what was growing in it before he disturbed it, and how deep has he gone when removing soil. If its deeper than a spit (a spade's depth) you may be getting subsoil in with it, which you don't want, unless he's stored the topsoil separately from subsoil.

Wherever you get your soil from, it would be a good idea to add some humus rich materials such as composted animal manure, soil conditioning compost (not potting compost) from the garden centre, or leafmould, anything like that you can easily get hold of.

30 Oct, 2012

Best I have ever bought online. Thoroughly recommended.

If you want to go the humus rich route as bamboo says, then the above do such a soil too.

I would never buy cheap topsoil advertised locally. I've seen where some of it comes from!!

30 Oct, 2012


Just out of interest why do you need to raise the surface of the border?

30 Oct, 2012


Another word of warning!

If you find a supplier and they allow you to check their soil for quality, and you like it, then you order some, this is when you have to take care!

What has been known to happen is; that when you have your soil delivered it might be of a different quality, so do not allow them to tip it until you have checked it!

Unscrupulous suppliers are known to have a batch of good quality soil for a customers initial inspection which tempts the customer to buy it, but when YOUR soil arrives you may find that you have got a load from a different source which is of a much poorer quality.

You have been warned!

30 Oct, 2012


I had some delivered in East Yorkshire and made sure that they had no problems with me checking it first. My brother had already received some so I knew it was okay. See if there is anyone in your area who can recommend a supplier. They should always be able to tell you where it has come from. Usually they deliver it in these big bags that you have to get rid of, which makes it easier for them to take it away if you don't like it. £60/tonne seems expensive to me but that could be the regional price where you live.

31 Oct, 2012


Hello anchorman.

Why am I raising the soil level. I don't really know. The existing borders have had their levels raised. I always thought it was just something you did. I built the border onto existing turf, removed the surf, forked and de-weeded. The clayey soil feels very nice.

I suppose a higher surface level will enable me to see small plants easier from the patio doors and I might want to grow veg in it at some time. I imagine a deeper soil level would help that.

Is raising the soil level in a border necessary?

31 Oct, 2012


No, its not, unless its sitting well below the level of a lawn. I assumed you'd built a raised bed and that's why you wanted topsoil.
My advice is to leave the levels alone - add humus rich material as mentioned in my former answer, and as much as you can afford. This will raise the soil level somewhat, but also improve the fertility of the soil, something that you should do if it was previously turfed.

31 Oct, 2012


Thank you bamboo.

Should I simply go to Wickes et al and buy something like manure?

I also want to install something like log roll edging in a circle to to break the bare front up a bit. I suppose I don't need to fill it up with soil-I could use the existing level and your advice about adding humus rich material also applies.

31 Oct, 2012


Wickes don't sell that type of thing, well, mine doesn't, only do potting compost or bark. Garden centre I'm afraid, and make sure that what you choose does not have the word 'potting' written on it - New Horizon, for instance, do two 'composts' - one is for potting, and the other for soil conditioning. Most sell composted animal manure too.

As for the log roll, well I guess that's a matter of personal choice - but I'm never in favour of edging a bed with anything, unless it needs to be separated from, say, gravel or something. You can fill that bare front up with plants, eventually, specially the ground covering, pretty spreaders like Arabis or Aubretia if its sunny, or things like Primulas/Primrose/polyanthus if its shady.

31 Oct, 2012


Another thought about the log roll edging - if this is making an edging to a lawn you will find it difficult to mow up to it, and keeping the edges short will be an extra job you can do without. A circular bed where you can gradually slightly raise the centre with any compost or other humus bearing material you can get will be easier to maintain, especially if you treat yourself to a pair of long handled edging shears.
If you plant an attractive shrub in the circular bed it will take off the bareness and you can surround it with bulbs for spring and perhaps a few bedding plants in summer.

31 Oct, 2012


I agree about the regular hoeing .

A dutch hoe or a long handled cultivator are both quick and easy to use once you've broken up the soil.

I've made some videos showing the use of these tools which you might find helpful

They're here

My mum who is 83 and has a heavy clay soil was having problems keeping it weed and moss free. I live too far away to do it for her but I spread a 2-3 cm layer of potting compost over the surface and around her plants and now it is as easy to hoe as hoeing sand. She only hoes the top 2 cm so never touches the clay below. It looks attractive all year around,drains freely so moss doesn't grow. It will need topping up occasionally as worms will drag the compost into the lower soil but that will lighten that soil so it's an excellent and quick solution.

The area in question was a 3 foot wide border around a lawn about 20 feet by 15 feet. It only took me 30 minutes or so to spread the compost

31 Oct, 2012


The area i've built is 2ft 8 by 12 feet running along the wall.

As to the front garden marking a circle I suppose is a piece of string on a stake and spray paint job.

31 Oct, 2012


That would work.

I've sometimes attached a string to a spade!..... it works well

31 Oct, 2012


Oh I see. Attach string to a stake, the other end on the spade, keep tight and spade a circle.

Have I got that right?

31 Oct, 2012


Spot on


31 Oct, 2012

How do I say thanks?

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