What to do with used potting soil?

andy_e(SF Bay CA 9/14)August 25, 2005

Hi folks,

For those of you who have a lot of containers and repot regularly (potting up and/or just refreshing the outer layer of soil), what do you do with the old soil? I have been dumping it in various places around my backyard but it's starting to pile up. Any ideas on something productive to do with it or how best to get rid of it?


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username_5(banned for no reason)

I just add it to low spots in the ground gardens. Given that I am several yards of topsoil short in some areas I don't think I will need to find another use anytime soon ;-)

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 10:51AM
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each year - I will empty about 1/3 of the potting soil and then put fresh in. What I take out goes into my compost piles and then gets reused in the garden beds as top dressing. If you don't have gardens to use it in - the soil can be raked in your yard. It will enrich your grass and the soil there. Use a leaf rake to spread it so as not to damage the grass too much and then water down or do it before a good soaking rain.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2005 at 2:37PM
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zipper3(7 wa)

ammend it with fresh compost's,and reuse it?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 6:46AM
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Unless your containers have had some disease problems, there is no valid reason NOT to reuse potting soil. Most of my containers are permanent plantings so repotting is relatively infrequent, but the more seasonal containers have their soil reused year after year with the additions of some new potting soil, often additional perlite, plus screened compost and slow release fertilizer.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 11:21AM
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andy_e(SF Bay CA 9/14)

I would think that the breakdown of the organic components of the soil and the overall deterioration of the soil structure would be good reasons not to reuse old potting soil. Am I overthinking this?


    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 1:34PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

I don't think one season of use of previously fresh potting mix would break down the soil that much. Like others, I reuse but will mix with fresh soil in about a 1/3rd old to 2/3rd new and that lets me actually recycle the soil for new plantings. Most of my stuff is pretty stable (shrubs & perennials) and so I'm not doing that much repotting anymore.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2005 at 2:05PM
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aktnyc(z7a NYC)

It's prohibitively expensive not to resuse, plus, for us city patio gardeners, a real problem re waste. Yes, I resuse. My annuals are all in exhausted potting soil, kept going by fertilizer (MiracleGro and Ozmocote, in various permutations). My big plants (trees, big vines) certainly don't get new soil--how would I tip the pots? The only things that get babied are the roses, and that only to a degree when they are being potted up. The old soil then goes into new pots for annuals. But a climbing rose past a certain point obviously doesn't get potted up--it would be damaging--and neither does a shrub that looks healthy and well.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 1:44PM
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LaurelLily(9a Houston, TX)

I compost it.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2005 at 2:49PM
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I use it to pot up my extra perennials for my yard sale.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 3:02PM
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mcav0y(z3/4 Anchorage)

I reuse it. I plant annuals in containers, such as tomatoes and basil. When they are dead in the fall, I empty all my pots into a large plastic bag. In the spring, I add some manure or worm castings, bone-meal and bloodmeal. Mix it all up and use it to start planting my starts or seedlings.
caveat- I don't reuse the soil if a plant had some sort of disease or infestation.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 1:41AM
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Start a compost pile ... if you do not want it seen plant some schrubs or flowers around it... Great for old potting soil,dead plants,cuttings,ETC. ETC.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2005 at 1:32PM
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