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Mark Aston

Latest posts by Mark Aston

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Posted: 02/09/2013 at 10:24

Spent the weekend doing one of the borders, used the axe to break it up.  Then added a Bulk bag of Manure, and am now half way through turning it over with a spade.  I've got a couple of Bulk bags of top soil to go on top. 

The soil is looking lots better already, it may be a bit sad, but it was very satisfying when the spade went all the way in and turned over easily.  Hoping to get the border done this week, so I can buy my first plants.  very very excited about planting taht first one..

Thank you all for your kind advice - its been amazing to have someone to get guidance from.


Posted: 31/08/2013 at 13:28

Just in case your interested....

The rotavator didn't touch the soil which had been compacted for the artificial turf.  My wife and I have just spent 2 days with a pick axe, breaking it all up.  We were absolutely shattered, so have cheated a bit.  We used the rotavator to break up the big clods of clay.

We probably went about 9 or 10 inches down.  We've levelled the soil (the clay was still clumpy with bits about 1/2 inch across) with a couple of bulk backs of top soil.  Dressed that with fertilizer.  Then we have laid the new turf on top. 

It looks amazing, so much better that the artificial stuff.  My wife is very happy.

Just the borders to do now.


Posted: 27/08/2013 at 12:25

The garden has been compacted - my spade hardly touched it!.  The pick axe did manage to break it up OK though.  This was why I was thinking of getting a rotavator, to give the whole lot a good work over.

I've been here about 2 weeks, and there has been some heavy showers in that time.  There is no water collecting anywhere (on the artificial turf), so I don't think there are drainage problems.

Verdun - I would normally dig a veg bed over in the autumn to let it winter, but that only goes down about 9 inches or so.  Are you suggesting that the subsoil needs a bit of attention, from compaction?  I'm not sure if the rotavator will dig to 40cm - suppose I'll find out when I get it. 

Maybe I'll get the rotavator to loosen it up (using a pickaxe on the whole lot will be back breaking).  Then trench and loosen the subsoil.

I'd like to get this right first time, it'll only be harder once I've started to lay borders end grass, so best do it proper now, so to speak

Thanks for all your advice - really really helpful

Mares Tail - how to win

Posted: 27/08/2013 at 10:22

People keep telling me that bindweed is the worst, but having had an allotment with Marestail, I dreamed of bindweed.

The problem to me was that any part of the plant can grow, so any fond, or bit that is left behind can reinfect the plot.  So be vigilant about anything left behind.  The plant can stand the heat of a compost heap, so has to be destoryed in fire or disposed of safely.  This was my main problem, because clearing my spuds etc, I was terrified of putting anything in the compost in case I had inadvertantly picked up some marestail.

The roots can go truly deep.  There is an urban myth that they dug the foundations for a tower block in London, and after a few weeks the plant started to grow, from over 30 feet down! How true this is I don't know, but I think  at least the story is propogated because it emphasises the problem. 

So most 'cures' are along the lines of keep picking (definately not dig or rotavate) to attempt to deny it any light.  Also after picking add something to the broken remaining stem to, so that the poison is drawn into the root.

My grandmother did clear it from her garden many many years back.  She dug a trench over 2 foot deep laid salt along the bottom.  As the years passed she moved the trench along the garden.  Eventually the whole garden had been salted.

As mentioned above, an alternative to salt, is some sort of ammonium sulphate.  The problem with both the salt and sulphate is the damage they can do to your hard worked soil.

That said by constant picking and poisoning of the root, it can be done, just be careful not to drop any waste!


Posted: 27/08/2013 at 09:36

Thanks - really helpful.


Posted: 27/08/2013 at 09:13

thanks smokin donkey, should I take the sand up?



Posted: 27/08/2013 at 09:06


Sorry if this has been asked before - I'm new to the forum.

I have just bought a new house with a garden which has artificial turf.  I want to remove the turf and create a garden.

Having taken up the turf there is a later of sand, then clay.

I don't know whether to simply rotavate the sand into the clay, to help with drainage, or should I try and remove as much sand as possible?  My fear is once the sand is dug into the clay it will be impossible to remove.

I will test the PH of the sand to check if it is builders sand.  I'm also going to use well rotted manure to try and build up the soil, then put some topsoil on top.

Any advice on whether to remove the sand or not?

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Discussions started by Mark Aston


Should I mix sand into clay 
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Last Post: 02/09/2013 at 10:24
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