Dirt contaminated with root suckers

katetravSeptember 8, 2013

Hi all,
I'm a new gardener and have been "renovating" my yard. While pulling up everything I ended up with a pile of dirt that includes small pieces of: morning glory, english ivy, aggressive bear's breeches, aggressive elderberry, and other yet to be identified aggressive/unwanted plants. I have done my best to weed out as much of the plants as I could but there are still small pieces left. I have tried sifting but that would take too long and drive me nuts. Does anyone have suggestions on what to do with the dirt so I can reuse it?
Thanks much.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Water it normally & let it sprout so that you have bigger pieces to manage/remove. Repeat several times.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If the dirt is used where you will routinly mow during lawn maintainance,I see no reason for special handeling before use.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2013 at 2:54PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

Hi Ktplant. Ive just a couple of questions. How much soil do you have? Do you need to use it immediately? Do you have a place to store it for a while?


    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 2:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi Mirendajean,
I added a pic of the dirt. The dimensions are probably about 5 x 4 x 1.5 ft but if you're in Ireland: 1.5 x 1.2 x 0.5 meters. I will be adding more dirt because my garden has lots more that needs to come out. I have room to store the dirt and I don't need to use it any time soon. We don't have lawn and I should really call it a garden and not yard. I'm debating if I should start a compost bin but I don't have any experience so it would it a learning and time investment.
I'd love to hear your thoughts.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"I'm debating if I should start a compost bin ...... " WHAT???? Debating?????? Do you debate whether to breathe or not? ;-) You HAVE to have a compost heap. It's compulsory. You can make it as simple or complicated as you like.There is almost no time or learning required at the most basic level.

I'm not clear as to why you dug out all that soil. There's nothing wrong with the soil per se. It's just the weeds you need to get out. When you weed you shake the soil off the roots. You should end up with a pile of weeds, not a pile of soil. I'd put all that earth back where it came from. If new weeds sprout pull/dig them out. Keep doing that and you'll end up with a weed free garden. Most of the plants you named can be removed this way. Elderberry, for example, is not 'aggressive'. It doesn't grow from root pieces and needs to self sow via berries to grow babies. These are easily pulled up. Acanthus too can be got rid of just by assiduous pulling. By removing the soil you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. Unless you have Japanese Knotweed or chemical contamination I can't think of any situation where you need to remove the soil. It's the weeds that need to go - not the earth.

This post was edited by florauk on Wed, Sep 11, 13 at 19:13

    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 5:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mirendajean(Donegal, Ireland)

I'm with Flora. Composting is essential. Sure there's a learning curve and time investment but... its fun! It's also easy to learn and only as complicated as you want it to be. I found that composting quickly became a habit. My 10 year old minds our hot compost pile.

May I also ask, what/where are your options for reusing the soil? Are you building beds? Resurfacing your lawn?

I only ask in order to help solicit answers for you. The suggestions that have already been made seem reasonable but you may have more options.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2013 at 5:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Ok yes yes yes I will compost. I have a lot of books from the library and will get on it right away!
It does sound strange that I removed all that soil but, let me emphasize I'm a newbie, everything I read said any roots of those plants will send up a new plant. So I wanted to separate that dirt from the rest. Also I had to dig out some of the dirt to get to get to the roots of the ivy and elderberry.
My plan is to put in various native plants and eventually create a vegetable garden, but I don't have any specific uses for the soil. It has rocks in it and I don't think its very good. I thought that when I do reuse it I would mix in some better quality soil. And no lawn.
Also we have a large yard and I can get dirt from other areas. What I didn't want is to throw out the dirt.
- kt

Here is a link that might be useful: Common Elderberry see Cultivation and Care

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 11:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, you've done a lot of work to dig out that soil! I'm in PNWet of western WA, so know the prolific growth we get of vegetation. I garden in a clearing in the woods & have found it's unnecessary to remove all roots. I just layer up!

May I suggest you read the info on this forum about Interbay Mulch? If you don't have access to burlap bags you can use old sheets, tshirts, or tablecloths from your stash, free at garage sales, or from thrift stores. Sometimes, I have put cardboard as the last layer & top that with wood chips. The cardboard moistens & curves to fit the mounds if you slope them gradually. Once our fall rains come again you don't even have to have it covered as long as you have a top layer that is uniform & holds moisture. Arborist wood chips works well if you can get it.

We've done several gardens this way & once you get to planting if you find lots of roots or rocks, just remove them from the planting hole. We've layered & layered for years. In some spots I can dig with my hands. I gather all the organic matter I can & just spread it as it comes. If I have too much & no bare soil I make a new compost pile. I do have portable compost bins, but also sheet compost, make huge piles, & compost in place (chop & drop). If I'm energetic I turn a pile. That's especially helpful when you 1st get the pile cooking & before the fall weather cools a lot.

Barbara Pleasant's book on composting is helpful because she explains how you can do many methods of composting. I was relieved that she didn't state it was mandatory to have a 3 bin system since I've never managed to have the time or energy to build one. She describes in detail the varied methods that can be done throughout your garden space from her practical experience.

I'm building new gardens now & am at the covering the cardboard stage. This part is the grunt work. The planting will be easy!

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 4:38PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The only weed I would be diligent about removing from the soil is the ivy - it WILL grow from any parts of roots left behind, disturbed or not. And any layering or the Interbay mulching process will not stop it, although that is a perfectly reasonable approach for anything else.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 5:02PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Good point about the perennial weeds...

... creeping buttercup, dandelion, & cat's ear (false dandelion) will persist if the layers aren't deep enough to smother for the duration of at least a year. Go 18" deep to keep them smothered or at least top dress in spring.

... didn't mention the invasive weeds we're working on eradicating in the back & side yards... stinging nettles, trailing blackberry & Himalayan blackberry... These must be removed by the rhizomes & roots prior to garden planting.

Our native elderberry does reseed in garden beds, but once you identify it can easily be pulled in spring. It doesn't seem to be a problem once I've removed it unless it is an established tree.

Don't want to hijack the posting just want to encourage the process of gardening.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2013 at 9:40PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All this information is really helpful and I really appreciate the advice. I will look into the interbay mulch. One more novice question. How do you rake up leaves and plant debris on dirt? I end up getting a lot of dirt mixed in.
Thanks much,

    Bookmark   September 14, 2013 at 10:43AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Get yourself a spring tine rake. A regular garden rake will catch the earth but a spring tine goes over the top. You can use it on garden beds and it will do no harm.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2013 at 11:17AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
New raised bed garden
I'm putting a raised bed garden in the front of the...
Does anyone not like newspaper for weed blocking?
I give advice as a master gardener for my county extension...
Lots of grass, not much "brown"?
So I live in the tropics of Australia, 4-5m of rainfall...
Need advice for filling a hole
Hi everyone, I have a 3 foot wide by about 1.5 foot...
arlene_82 (zone 6 OH)
Compost is wet and soggy. Can I use it? It's not done yet..
Hi there. My first compost is almost a year old now....
Mikkel Nielsen
Sponsored Products
$39.50 | FRONTGATE
Steam Spa Royal Package for Steam Spa 10.5kW Steam Generators in Polished Brass
Beyond Stores
Coral Corners Indoor/Outdoor Rug
$194.99 | Dot & Bo
Kira Outdoor Rug
Grandin Road
Bungalow Flooring Door Mats Argyle Charcoal 24 in. x 36 in. Monogram T Door Mat
$59.97 | Home Depot
Coral Coast Fir Wood Foldable Potting Bench Multicolor - WSBS01
$144.99 | Hayneedle
Outdoor All-Weather Single Chaise Lounge Cushion - 93475-SGL-DAC/REO-29
$67.00 | Hayneedle
Ashton Pet Bed Dog Bed
$109.50 | FRONTGATE
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™