How to make a soil sieve

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.

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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 easy and will save on trips to the tip. In addition to having a garden sieve, investing in a good quality compost bin is important.

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 it a colour of your choice.

Follow our five easy steps below, to create your own homemade soil sieve. Or, if you’d prefer to buy a ready-made sieve, we’ve also collated a selection of the best garden sieves on the market right now.

For more planting and compost tools, browse our reviews of the best wormeries and garden hand trowels.

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.
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You Will Need

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

Step 1

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

How to make a soil sieve - measuring the wheelbarrow
How to make a soil sieve – measuring the wheelbarrow

Step 2

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.

How to make a soil sieve - cutting the wood
How to make a soil sieve – cutting the wood

Step 3

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

How to make a soil sieve - painting the wood
How to make a soil sieve – painting the wood

Step 4

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

How to make a soil sieve - adding the mesh
How to make a soil sieve – adding the mesh

Step 5

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

How to make a soil sieve - screwing the frames together
How to make a soil sieve – screwing the frames together
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Best Garden Sieves

From budget steel riddles to premium rotary models, here’s our pick of some of the best garden sieves on offer.

Bulldog Premier Garden Sieve

Bulldog Premier Garden Sieve – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Bulldog Premier Garden Sieve

Made by Wigan-based company Bulldog, this garden sieve has a diameter of 37cm and a mesh size of 9mm. It’s constructed entirely from metal and has a pressed steel rim.

Price: £13.24

Buy Bulldog Premier Garden Sieve at Amazon


Spear and Jackson Steel Frame Riddle

Spear and Jackson Steel Frame Riddle – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Spear and Jackson Steel Frame Riddle

This garden sieve from Spear and Jackson is crafted from chrome-plated steel. The base plate has 1cm square holes and a diameter of 33cm.

Price: £17.49

Buy Spear and Jackson Steel Frame Riddle at Amazon


Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve

Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve

The spring-loaded handle of this rotary garden sieve applies pressure to the compost or soil, forcing it through the mesh to filter out any debris. It’s made from steel and a large 40cm diameter.

Price: £45.50

Buy Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve at Amazon


Wilko Metal Riddle

Wilko Metal Riddle – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Wilko Metal Riddle

Wilko’s metal garden sieve is one of the cheaper options on this guide. Made from metal, it has a powder coating to prevent rust a diameter of 36.5cm.

Price: £5

Buy Metal Riddle at Wilko


Crocus 2-in-1 Garden Sieve

Crocus 2-in-1 Garden Sieve – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Crocus 2-in-1 Garden Sieve

Made in the UK, this garden sieve comes supplied with two interchangeable screens (6mm and 12mm mesh). Each screen is made from galvanised woven wire.

Price: £9.99

Buy 2-in-1 Garden Sieve at Crocus


Galvanised Soil Sieve

Galvanised Steel Sieve – BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine
Galvanised Steel Sieve

This galvanised steel garden sieve from Crocus has a 30cm diameter and is finished with a clear lacquer. It has two handles on either side to help with grip.

Price: £13.99

Buy Galvanised Soil Sieve at Crocus

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

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