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Help with soil preparation/tilling/etc.

Posted by amg1978 CA (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 10, 10 at 15:40

I recently paid for some guys to come out, dig a few trenches, lay some irrigation and I told them to "bring dirt to fill in the areas where major erosion had occurred". The issue is they brought in a few yards of "topper" and just simply laid that on top of my hard dirt. I don't have any plants yet, and I plan on putting some in along my fence and in various areas, but right now the topper is so light it just blows all over the place.

So my thoughts are that I need to have someone use a roto-tiller and mix this topper in with the harder dirt below. I also thought that It might not be a bad idea to have the next group of guys bring in some additional straight 'dirt'. Maybe they should till this topper in to the hard dirt below, then bring the new dirt in, throw it on top, then quickly till that in again? Right now I can't even rake my back yard of leaves as what happens is the topper moves around so much I end up throwing a ton of it out.

How can I best fix this situation and get back to having a normal back yard dirt that I can rake and next spring I can dig a few holes, plant some hedges, etc?

Here are some photos so you have a better idea of what is going on

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Help with soil preparation/tilling/etc.

RE: Help with soil preparation/tilling/etc.

You can rent a tiller at your local home depot for cheap, and it's not particularly hard or time-consuming. Not sure what your physical situation is, but I recall it being only slightly more demanding than pushing a mower, especially if you already have just dirt and not grass/weeds to till through.

RE: Help with soil preparation/tilling/etc.

Hi Amg

Soak the ground well day before or over several days before rototilling to condition the hard ground and add a couple more inches of organic material or loamy soil. It shouldn't be that expensive to have a local landscape maintenance company do it or a neighbor's son. Get at least three quotes to verify a good cost from professional contractors for the job. Aloha

RE: Help with soil preparation/tilling/etc.

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 15, 10 at 12:49

After the organic material in the topper decomposes you will be left with the original soil plus whatever mineral component the topper had.

Perhaps the main benefit of digging organic amendments into soil destined for long term planting is the loosening and aeration of the soil, rather than the properties of the amendments.

If you need to raise the grade or fill holes, try to get soil similar to that already on the site to use for that.

When that is done, if it appears the existing soil loosened for planting and mulched afterward will not be adequate for the kinds of plants you want to grow, then bring in a suitable-appearing soil and spread that on top, WITHOUT MIXING THE TWO LAYERS TOGETHER AFTERWARD.

Be sure to mulch after planting, maintain a mulch around (but never on) the plants.

If you are in a hot part of California even vegetable plantings might benefit from summer mulching. Otherwise warm season crops at least may be better with the surface of the soil left open to being warmed by the sun, this would certainly seem likely up here (where summers are cool).

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