Soil is full of stones! Is this a disaster?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Greenfingered MoneySaving
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ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Greenfingered MoneySaving
I went to the garden centre today and bought my first plants. When I went to dig the garden, I first moved all the pebbles back, and then expected to find normal brown earth. It wasn't! I started digging and its full of stones, mostly small ones but a few big ones that I took out. It was a total nightmare to dig at all as the spade kept hitting more stones. The soil looks more greyish than brown, and seems quite sandy.

I was really surprised as this area generally has normal brown 'loamy' soil. It's not a coastal area where I would imagine has sandy soil. All I can think is that since the garden has pebbles covering it, not grass, maybe there used to be lots more pebbles and they have migrated into the soil somehow.

I managed to get everything planted eventually, but not that deeply. Are these plants likely to die because of the soil? I got two choisya sundance, two cotoneaster, a dwarf conifer and a spiky juniper groundcover type with greyish foliage. I did use compost when planting so I'm hoping that will help. Have I wasted my time and money? Are there any plants at all that will be ok in this type of soil?

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  • ljonskiljonski Forumite
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    Have you ever seen a farmer's field after harvest time, - you can't believe how many stones are in the field. Some people feel that having stones in the soil can be good as they tend to keep the soil warm in hot weather.
    "if the state cannot find within itself a place for those who peacefully refuse to worship at its temples, then it’s the state that’s become extreme".Revd Dr Giles Fraser on Radio 4 2017
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    I think it's worse than that. The soil looks more like cement. I think I might have sprained my wrist with trying to dig through it and just hitting layer upon layer of stones.
  • Hi
    Whats been there before ? Is it an established garden area or is a new area for a garden ?
    I've heard that gardens of new build properties tend to have loads of rubble in the garden with very little decent soil.
    Jen
  • unrecordingsunrecordings Forumite
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    If the stones are round rather than angular, then you might have stumbled onto an abandoned path or hardstanding. Rather than using a spade, or resorting to a pickaxe, you can try loosening the pebbles with some kind of weeder or a trowel then shovel out the loose material. Or, if the layer doesn't go down too deep (and assuming this is man made not natural) find the edges of this layer of stones and use a spade to work your way in by levering up sections of it bit by bit

    Why am I in this handcart and where are we going ?
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    I've only moved in recently so I'm not really sure but the house is quite old so it's not a new build. It's the original front garden but the last tenants covered it in stones instead of grass. I'm wondering if maybe they kept adding more over years and they've just built up.

    I was digging all over it as I wanted the plants spread out. It's all the same. They look like the sort of stones that are covering the garden but mixed with some other smaller gravel. It also looks like an ornamental gravel that you get in garden centres.
  • EctophileEctophile Forumite
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    I've got one flower bed that's basically just pebbles with a little bit of soil. It's a nightmare to dig. I just end up using a small trowel.

    It's got to be made up ground, as the subsoil here is heavy clay.

    The plants seem to like it, though. Very free draining when compared with the nasty clay soil.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • ripplyukripplyuk Forumite
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    I had a friend out visiting yesterday. She's quite experienced with gardening and I think she thought I was exaggerating about the state of the 'soil'. She was shocked when she saw it and just said there's no way you can plant anything in that. We dug down a bit more and it definitely looks like the last tenant has simply added layer upon layer of ornamental stones and gravel, mixed with builders rubble and huge chunks of cement and bits of Tarmac.

    I think I'll stick to container planting for the front garden.
  • EctophileEctophile Forumite
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    So you've got an alpine garden, then. Lots of rock, very little soil.

    When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
    If it sticks, force it.
    If it breaks, well it wasn't working right anyway.
  • londonTigerlondonTiger
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    ljonski wrote: »
    Have you ever seen a farmer's field after harvest time, - you can't believe how many stones are in the field. Some people feel that having stones in the soil can be good as they tend to keep the soil warm in hot weather.

    there's a difference to the natural earth and what you pay for. stones in the compost bag add weight and use up volume. Bags are sold by volume but they dont calculute the volume they appriximate the volume by weight.

    Stones are a lot heavier than soil and thus you get ripped off like that.
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