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Part of the garden is tarmaced currently and I am wondering whether anyone else has had to get up tarmac on part of their garden in order to turn it back into "proper" garden as such.


There are various questions here:

- Wondering how far down underneath ground level anything like electric cables, broadband cables, etc might be from the pov of digging up that tarmac surface.


- Suggestions as to how to best to restore the soil that has been under tarmac for some years now




Thank you.


I would dig a trial hole and see what's underneath.

I live in a converted school and our raised beds, for mainly vegetables, are on the Tarmac because having dug a trial hole we found nasty hardcore laid straight on clay and we reasoned the expense of digging it up and disposing of the spoil was just too much. 

The raised beds are a sucess but they do dry out quite quickly.  But the best thing is having a really good surface to walk on to work from, between the beds.

Thanks. That thought has crossed my mind, ie re the raised beds. I'm guessing though that I could get that tarmac up for what would still come in the hundreds of £s mark (rather than a 4 figure amount of money) and could just then plant what I want wherever/whenever I want subsequently in the "saved" area of garden and meanwhile put down some woodchippings or the like to give me a decent surface to walk on (and, presumably, would equal I wouldnt end up "compacting" the soil back down again?).


Does that sound like a plan?



If you will find good soil under the Tarmac, I would remove it.  We have half an acre so we can afford to leave the old playground as Tarmac.  As it is surrounded by old railings we can leave it as a separate area for sitting out, the greenhouse and raised beds.

It all depends what will suit your garden.

 My main path and patio is tarmac. If the tarmac has been laid properly there will be hard core underneath and checking whats under the hard core could prove difficult, so you may need to take your chances with your soil type but the good news is most soil types can be improved by feeding it with a good compost.

Double digging in well rotted hourse muck or mushroom compost will improve the soil whether clay or stony. Then putting on a surface mulch regularly will feed the soil.          

I took up a concrete garage base before putting down turf for a lawn and then several years later turned part over for my first veg bed. There was very little life under the concrete, no worms but fortunately although stony ground the soil was fairly good stuff. I double dug in well rotted horse muck for the veg beds in the Autumn before planting in Spring.  

In another part of the garden I discovered clay under the top soil after taking up slate which had laid there for years on a weed membrane. After a double digging of mushroom compost the flowers have thrived and because of the clay that part of the garden retains water well when we get the sun.        

Regarding electric cables I would have thought they would be near the surface and in some sort of protective covering. Are you expecting to find cables? 



my drive was tarmac well laid over hardcore in 1960. It's breaking up and the number of plants that seed and thrive in it is amazing.

I tend to get a lot of moss growing on it. 

Sara 4

We have just dug up loads and loads of concrete and are lucky as the soil quality is great, but I worried about similar things to you before I started.  So ...the minimum legal depth for contractors (energy companies etc) to bury LOW voltage cable is 450 mm (17 inches and something) on private property; and deeper for higher voltages, so the worst you'd be likely to come across is where a DIY enthusiast had laid a wire to an outside light, and with any luck you'd be able to see evidence of that and work out where it may lie. You'll be able to work out where the drains are from your deeds and from lifting up manhole covers to see which way they run.

Money wise, it isn't that expensive to hire a mini digger (£60 a day, round here) and that will landscape the area as well as getting the tarmac up.  The most difficult/expensive bit is getting rid of the rubble; skips have gone sky high in price because of landfill restrictions being tightened up. I'm really pleased we did it - it was knackering and we dug a big pond at the same time which isn't finished yet, but it is much better to look at a developing project with some greenery around it than a huge expanse of concrete!

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