This year I have some use for excess soil because I'm starting a raised bed, but how do other people (city and suburban people without space for composting) dispose of excess landscape soil, clay or turf?
What would be some origins of this excess soil or turf? From hardscape installation? That would be oe of the primary sources I can think of in which you are replacing your soil with something else you've brought in and would not necessarily have any other place to put it. Also in my town, if you try to dig, you will turn up large rocks, which most people to try to use in their yards somehow, but if they really don't "go" you'd have to make a pile and put a sign "take me" and wackos like me might, or you would have to kinda make them disappear. I've never used Freecycle, but I suppose if you had a dirt pile you could say, please come fill your buckets.
However, if you have any kind of garden bed at all, you'd be amazed at what you can add to it. Or if you have a lawn, there may be low spots or ways to recycle some sod. But obviously not for huge amounts of material displaced by major construction.
Well, I know what my parents did with their excess soil when they installed a swimming pool. They spread out the excess dirt until it was a layer several inches thick across their entire quarter-acre lot.
Personally, I have the opposite problem - I always need more soil than I have, because my yard is set a few inches too low, so that the entire neighborhood drains into it during floods. There is actually an area that I'd like to move dirt from, but the area was covered with landscape rock at some long-ago point in time, and now the landscape rock is so heavily intermixed with the clay that it's essentially impossible to separate. Maybe if I had a good strong net and a good strong hose, I could shovel the mixture into the net and wash the clay out with the hose until there was nothing left in the net but rocks? But I have no such equipment.
I see ads on Craigslist for various types of free soil. Wish I lived closer as I'd pick up some topsoil. It's an outrageous price here.
I have used it to level out spots in the yard but recently planted lots of shrubs and have quite a bit left. The bigger hunky clay dirt I added small amounts to garbage bags so they weren't too heavy and put them out to the trash. The better dirt I have filled numerous pots half up and the rest of the pots I added good soil to so that I have pots ready in the spring to start seeds in for plants I will be starting for others. You'd be surprised how many things you want to start for yourself or others and will be glad of some of that dirt later. I keep a couple bucketfuls in my shed for things like that.
My next project is to use a sod cutter and cut out all the crabgrass around the edges of the lawn and put down some sod. I've tried seeding, but it's never worked very well. Since I just recently decided to add a small raised garden, at least I have someplace to dump the old sod. And I'll probably have to purchase soil this time to fill the rest of the area.
I envy people who don't have clay soil. I have a few inches of topsoil, but under that is heavy clay. So, next year, when I start building a small pergola for a grape vine, the dirt/clay that gets removed for the post holes is not going to suitable for a veggie garden.
I'll take issue with discarding "clay" soil. That is just perfect mixed with compost. It is only the relative amount that can be a problem. I would have no problem adding buckets of clay soil to a vegetable garden or new raised bed as it would just influence the other materials and proportions I would use. Now if you have a huge streak of almost pure clay and rock subsoil, that takes a lot of organic matter to "salvage," but again, it depends on the amounts you're faced with at any given time.
I'm a soil conserver--can you tell? But am more able to do so not by having such a large property, but by having some varied topography, a few hidden corners, and
flower/veggie beds in various stages and ages that can handle moderate amounts of such stuff.
Sell it for fill or pay a tipping fee at a landfill. Landfills or always accepting clean fill for their daily cover needs.
Don't invent a need for the soil that you wouldn't have wanted before you generated the spoil pile. A berm that's not in the design or adding plain dirt to good topsoil needs to be weighed on its merita to achieving the basic misison of your site.
well good soil is an important asset..myself.. i would use it as a berm to hide any unsightly areas of my property..or spread it on top of the areas where the top soil might be thin..or do as you are doing.
Yep, Craigslist or the local dump. In summer months, craigslist is always a hit.