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Soil for flower beds

aj9648
aj9648 Posts: 1,372 Forumite
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Hi - this might be a daft question sorry

in our new place there is a large space for flower beds on the side of the garden. At the moment they are empty and filled with rubbish. I am wanting to plant some perennial flower, some conifers for privacy and also maybe a fruit and veg patch. What kind of soil do I need. The area in total is around 50m in length and about 1m wide…..I assume I just can’t walk into Asda and pick up a few bags of compost and need something more substantial…….?? 

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  • Brie
    Brie Posts: 9,999 Forumite
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    When we put in a raised bed I laid down a few layers of cardboard and then piled compost on top.  Maybe you don't want cardboard if you are going to dig through that to plant trees but it would work ok for the veg and flowers.  I think the reason for it was to create a bit of a barrier for a year or two to stop weeds coming up but it would eventually decompose.  
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  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,549 Forumite
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    I did some research whe i moved in with only grass,and gravel.

    First try a small area, dig up turf and rubish (yes, had all sorts in mine) and knock the soil off the turf. See what it's like.
    I found that I had more than enough for beds and the remaining turf went in the compost for the following year.

    If you do want to buy in soil then get the soil from a reputable nursery. It's weed free.
    You can buy it cheaper from a builders merchant but that hasn't been sterilised so will have weeds. Maybe persistent ones.

    I knew and old gardener who used the compost from the recycling centre for new raised beds.

    Don't buy the cheapest bagged compost. That I found just dried out and blew away.

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  • Green_hopeful
    Green_hopeful Posts: 627 Forumite
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    You can buy top soil or compost in bulk bags, normally around a m3 and have it delivered. It depends what you already have what you will need. If you can post a photo and a better description people might be able to help more. 
  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,499 Forumite
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    edited 19 February at 3:42PM
    Brie said:
    When we put in a raised bed I laid down a few layers of cardboard and then piled compost on top.  Maybe you don't want cardboard if you are going to dig through that to plant trees but it would work ok for the veg and flowers.  I think the reason for it was to create a bit of a barrier for a year or two to stop weeds coming up but it would eventually decompose.  
    Not only for raised beds - I'd recommend the OP have a look at 'no dig' gardening. It allows you to build up a good layer of nutrient rich and moisture retaining soil on poor quality ground and, as you say, keeps the weeds down. 

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  • Dustyevsky
    Dustyevsky Posts: 1,377 Forumite
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    What you want for growing conifers and big shrubs is entirely different from the soil/compost for lettuces and carrots. Base it on compost, and the trees will pull out of the ground and fall over as they grow taller.
    As someone else has said, it's important to know what you already have, which means clearing the rubbish and digging. It's highly unlikely you'll just have sub-soil, but there might be clay or something similar that just needs improving.
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  • -taff
    -taff Posts: 14,498 Forumite
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    50m in length? wow...If you are going to plant trees, think about the eventual size of them and don't plant too close to your boundary otherwise they'll be hanging over it and annoying the neighbours, who might chop them right back and kill them...Like I did to my neighbour in wales when he planted conifers right next to the iron fence between us. I didn't like him much though.
    Bulk buying is probably going to be cheaper than a few bags, but plan out where you are going to put things first before expending energy moving the stuff around. Also think about whether a metre strip is going to look like a landing strip or can you change the shape a bit, make some bits bigger, smaller, curvier etc.
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  • Countess823
    Countess823 Posts: 11 Forumite
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    In my experience, conifers will suck the moisture out of the surrounding ground - so it will be hard for other plants to grow in their shadow. I second -taff's concerns about conifers.

    Other considerations with connifers include the fire risk - their dense, oily, dead growth will quickly combust, perhaps caused by a discarded cigarette or even as a target for arsonists.

    An alternative for privacy is pyracantha. It's fast growing, provides colour (green leaves and bright coloured berries) and is forgiving when you need to keep it in trim, i.e. it will grow back when you cut it using loppers or a hedge trimmer. It will also provide habitat for birds. 

  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,219 Forumite
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    In my experience, conifers will suck the moisture out of the surrounding ground - so it will be hard for other plants to grow in their shadow. I second -taff's concerns about conifers.

    Other considerations with connifers include the fire risk - their dense, oily, dead growth will quickly combust, perhaps caused by a discarded cigarette or even as a target for arsonists.

    An alternative for privacy is pyracantha. It's fast growing, provides colour (green leaves and bright coloured berries) and is forgiving when you need to keep it in trim, i.e. it will grow back when you cut it using loppers or a hedge trimmer. It will also provide habitat for birds. 

    A second for pyracantha, but a word of caution, it has sharp thorns and will stab you, so choose the position with care

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  • ArbitraryRandom
    ArbitraryRandom Posts: 2,499 Forumite
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    Farway said:
    In my experience, conifers will suck the moisture out of the surrounding ground - so it will be hard for other plants to grow in their shadow. I second -taff's concerns about conifers.

    Other considerations with connifers include the fire risk - their dense, oily, dead growth will quickly combust, perhaps caused by a discarded cigarette or even as a target for arsonists.

    An alternative for privacy is pyracantha. It's fast growing, provides colour (green leaves and bright coloured berries) and is forgiving when you need to keep it in trim, i.e. it will grow back when you cut it using loppers or a hedge trimmer. It will also provide habitat for birds. 

    A second for pyracantha, but a word of caution, it has sharp thorns and will stab you, so choose the position with care

    This twice over. When my local gardener man was removing an established bush for me he wore thick leather gauntlets - he still looked like he'd spent the day trying to wrangle feral cats when he was done. 

    So if you plant it just make sure it's where you want it and that you keep on top of trimming so you don't have to risk anything drastic in a few years :) 
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