How to make a soil sieve

Create a soil sieve, perfect for compost and leaf mould, with the help of this easy step-by-step project.

Do it:

Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec

Takes just:

two hours

Soil sieves (or riddles) are useful for sifting out large lumps from soil, leaf mould and compost, to leave you with a fine material suitable for sowing seeds like salad leaves and sunflowers, or for potting mixes.

Making your own compost and leaf mould is surprisingly easy and will save on trips to the tip.

You should aim to make your soil sieve slightly bigger than your wheelbarrow so you can quickly work your way through a pile of compost, directly from the heap. Add a personal touch by painting in a colour of your choice. 

Follow our five easy steps below, to create your own homemade soil sieve.

You will need

  • 8m of 25mm x 50mm treated timber
  • Wood stain
  • Wire mesh sheet with 1cm holes
  • 12mm x 40mm wood screws
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver


Measure your wheelbarrow, so you can build your sieve to fit comfortably across the top.

Cut the timber into eight pieces and fix them together to form two equal-sized rectangles. Smooth any sharp edges with sandpaper. Use pliers to cut the wire mesh to the same size as the frame.

Paint the timber with wood stain to preserve it and add colour, then leave it to dry.

Soil sieves (or riddles) are useful for sifting out large lumps from soil, leaf mould and compost, to leave you with a fine material suitable for sowing seeds.

Set out the lower half of the timber frame on a flat surface and place the mesh on top.

Screw the upper and lower parts of the frame together, sandwiching the mesh in-between.


Your sieve can also double as a drying tray in autumn and winter for onions, garlic, root crops and beans before you store them.

Discover more ideas and inspiration

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