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I'm about to lift a lot of gravel that was laid down by the previous owner of my property. I want to put in a nice healthy new border for plants and shrubs. When I lift all the gravel what should I mix into the existing poor soil? I see horse manure, farmyard manure, soil conditioner, compost and top soil on sale. What would be the best stuff to mix in? 

Hiya Jesse

Think I would use horse manure in the autumn so not now unless you plant annuals this summer.  Then I would trench it in now allowing the area to settle before planting permanent stuff in the autumn.  I think annuals would be just fine even if manure is fresh but trenched in.  You could have a highly colourful border this summer with annuals a d it would give you time over the summer to consider your permament options 



I did the same ting last year when I moved into my new home. I replaced the gravel with some soil and then mulched it with bark this Spring. I have planted a variety of Shrubs, Perennials and bedding into the border. 

Scott Edwards

Depends on whether you have a light fast draining soil like sand or a heavy slow draining soil like clay. In the case of lighter soil, I would recommend farmyard manure but you shouldn't plant in it immediately otherwise your plants will be damaged by the release of excess nitrogen. Add the manure in the autumn and plant the following spring.  If your soil is a heavy soil like clay, I would recommend that you also add grit. Then in future years I would give a mulch of multi-purpose compost on top of the borders in Autumn and/or Spring and let the worms drag it down into the soil. I'm no expert but that would be the way I would go!   



..I would have dug in as much of that gravel as I could, deeply, rather than dispose of it... gravel opens up poor soil and makes planting much easier... I would then immediately get around to planting, and as I go along I would incorporate a mix of multi compost/John Innes no. 2 with each planting some fertilizer....

..water in, and let them get on with it... in subsequent seasons I would top mulch...


Whatever fibrous stuff you can obtain in bulk cheaply. At the moment for me this is well rotted FYM. I also have a cubic metre of home made compost to top dress with. Even coir is ok if you can get a bulk load. If using coir there is no nutrient so then mix in fish blood and bone. Think of it as making a fruit cake, you want a nice even mix of all the ingredients. Only use FYM at this time of year if it is well rotted. It should have no farmyardy smell at all.

Thanks everyone. I really like salinas idea of burrying down some of the gravel/chips. Would definitely help drainage as the bottom of the garden is quite damp. I suppose I could lift the gravel then turn out a few inches of the dark soggy soil and put in some of the small stones to help drainage. I could then replace the soil in on top of the gravel after I blend it with plenty of compost to make it a little less dense and heavy. Maybe in the autumn I could add in a wee bit if manure. Is the gravel on the surface too coarse to put under the soil as drainage? Picture included. 

I assume I add the barkchips/mulch on top to prevent weed growth Ngcards?


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