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A healthy garden starts with a nutritious layer of soil and without the proper care and attention needed to prepare that soil, you may find that your plant life struggles to grow as expected. Soil isn’t just a foundation for roots to take hold and spread; it’s the first port of call for your plants to obtain their nutrition. Although the base layer is incredibly important for this process – you may want to consider your topsoil’s condition, too. read more... 26th October 2015
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A healthy garden starts with a nutritious layer of soil and without the proper care and attention needed to prepare that soil, you may find that your plant life struggles to grow as expected. Soil isn’t just a foundation for roots to take hold and spread; it’s the first port of call for your plants to obtain their nutrition. Although the base layer is incredibly important for this process – you may want to consider your topsoil’s condition, too.
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed to affect the condition of your topsoil, it’s the layers underneath. That’s where preparing your soil space comes into the fray, and spending a little while longer taking care of this activity will help to promote much more than a nice looking soil bed for the future.
Whether you’re renovating your garden or focusing your efforts on a particular patch – the first thing that you’ll want to do is remove the top layer of soil that’s currently present. If the location has been untreated for a while then you may find stones, pieces of wood and other sources of debris.
Although these may seem harmless at first glance, the truth is that they can affect the condition of your top soil once it’s been laid. Your topsoil will be thin and crumbly, and if stones and other items are present underneath, then they may be revealed whenever you water your soil. The best way to avoid this is by removing these elements entirely.
It may be easier to use a sieve or colander to help you to siphon through the soil; be sure to place any pieces of debris that you find to one side, well away from your soil space. You may find that beneath what will soon be your layer of topsoil, the ground becomes a little like clay - especially when it’s wet. If this is the case in your garden, then there’s really no reason to fret – plant roots are able to absorb nutrients from most organic composites, but you may want to break the clay down as much as possible, simply to allow the soil to better set once laid.
In warmer climates, it’s a good idea to water this layer slightly before applying your topsoil. Don’t saturate the area – just aim to spread half an inch of water evenly over the layer.
With your soil space properly prepared, you’ll be able to apply your topsoil ready for plantation. There are several methods for laying topsoil and choosing the most effective method for you will depend on your climate and base layer. Here’s a look at the most effective way to lay your topsoil across a range of base layer types.
Laying topsoil over a predominantly clay foundation
Clay is well-known for becoming sticky when wet, so as a result it’s not uncommon for your topsoil to clump when exposed to wet clay. To avoid this you may want to consider laying a thin sheet of landscaping fabric. It won’t detract from the roots’ potential to grow, but it will provide a protective layer between the clay and topsoil.
You may find that the roots that grow through the fabric will need to be pulled away should you ever wish to relocate a particular plant – the best way to do this is by cutting the fabric itself and replanting it (along with the plant) in the new location.
Laying topsoil over healthy soil
This is always the preferred option for gardeners - if a generous layer of soil is present at the base of your garden patch, then the topsoil will act to complement the nutrients and appearance of your soil space. It’s also possible to mix the different soils together to maximise the level of nutritional output, but this may detract from that carefully cultivated aesthetic – especially if different colours or consistencies are involved.
Applying topsoil correctly
It’s easy to cut into a bag of fresh soil and pour it over your patch, but as time-saving a technique as this can be, it isn’t anywhere near as effective as manually applying your topsoil. The preferred way is to hand feed small batches of soil in even layers to the desired area; working from one corner and spreading out over your patch. It may take a little longer, but the soil will be far more even. Once completed, you can simply sprinkle your topsoil and allow it to set for 24 hours. After this point, it will be ready to receive plant seeds or shrubs.