What to look for when buying topsoil: Landscape Maintenance  -- Landscape Discussion Forum and Review What to look for when buying topsoil: Landscape Maintenance -- Landscape Discussion Forum

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 09-20-2003, 19:56 Post: 64449
kwschumm



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

There are some depressions on my property that I'd like to fill. I will buy some fill dirt, but I'd like to put some good topsoil on top of it. When buying topsoil, what questions do you ask and what do you look for to make sure you're not buying fill-quality dirt? I haven't done much gardening in my life and am quite inexperienced with this.






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 09-21-2003, 06:05 Post: 64458
harvey



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

Ken You have a double sided sword with top soil. Virgin top soil scraped down 0-6/8 inches is gonna be expensive and it will contain all of the weeds and grass seeds of where it came from. Fill dirt that has been screened will not have all the seeds but will take fertilizer and probably lime (depending on the PH) to prep it for seed.

Where we are mining gravel we have what is called overburden (the dirt and soils covering the gravel. All of that is stripped off and stock piled for screening as needed to replentish topsoil pile.

The subsoils that are screened do a great job of growing grass.

The other MAJOR problem with topsoil is if it gets wet before you use it. It will clump and pack thighter than a frozen snowball.

Make sure it is loose and workable with very few or no clumps.

I like to mix sand 50/50 with what I bring home to help keep it loose and no so packy. (I have a 30 ton load stached its been there for 6-8 years now I've only taken a small amount out for little projects). We have a flower specilist, with small green houses) that has run a loader here for years and that is his recomendation.

Good luck






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 09-21-2003, 07:24 Post: 64464
TomG

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 What to look for when buying topsoil

One of my wife's flowerbeds is growing great. Two years ago I improved back-grading for one side of the house. I used fill that I mixed with compost, some peat and lime. The flowers have done very well so I can attest to Harvey's comment about screened sub-soil. We had to pick out the rocks ourselves.

Around here getting good topsoil is mostly a matter of knowing your trucker--and everybody here does. Every local knows when a new source of topsoil becomes available and everybody who needs it orders it then. It's as good as it's going to get. What's left usually is sold further away.

Weeds--yes it has them. We got a good crop of lambs quarter the first year over an old cellar. Things sort have balanced out similar to the rest of the meadow after two years of mowing. Commercial bagged topsoil is sterilized but too costly to use for large areas. I don't know if the pre-emergence stuff would do the trick.






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 09-21-2003, 10:38 Post: 64474
kwschumm



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

Thanks guys. It sounds like the best bet is to buy some screened fill and sand and improve it as needed. Probably cheaper and easier to find than topsoil anyway.






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 09-21-2003, 12:13 Post: 64477
Chief



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

Ken,

Harvey made a good point. I checked with a local guy who sells gravel, dirt, etc. I asked him where he got the top soil and he showed me on his property. He was taking the top 6 to 10 inches of soil off an area he was planning to build a church on. I ordered 46 tons of it and my wife and I spread it around the yard and house filling in areas like you are speaking of and in areas around the house where back fill on the foundations had settled. This was before I even though about buying a tractor about 11 years ago. We were exhausted after that ordeal. It took us 2 weeks of steady daily spreading the dirt around via shovel and wheel barrow. NEVER again. The top soil did well and grass grew up right through it. All we did was pick the big rocks out of it. Tried the sifting and it took way too long. That 4410 and 430 loader sure would have been handy back then! Wink yeah right By the way, 46 tons is not a very big pile of dirt. It was only 2 2/3 filled dump truck loads. I think I paid something like $60 a dump load back then.






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 09-21-2003, 13:47 Post: 64480
kadorken



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

I just had a truck load of screened topsoil delivered last week (the same day the tractor stopped working). I covered it with a tarp to keep as much rain as possible off it until the tractor is returned.

My previous load of top soil wasn't screened. It was difficult to spread around, and required a lot more work raking and flattening to get into shape. I kept it covered as well while I used it over a year period)

Covering also keeps many of the weeds out of it.






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 09-21-2003, 13:48 Post: 64481
kadorken



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 What to look for when buying topsoil

I just had a truck load of screened topsoil delivered last week (the same day the tractor stopped working). I covered it with a tarp to keep as much rain as possible off it until the tractor is returned.

My previous load of top soil wasn't screened. It was difficult to spread around, and required a lot more work raking and flattening to get into shape. I kept it covered as well while I used it over a year period)

Covering also keeps many of the weeds out of it.






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 12-21-2003, 22:07 Post: 71890
itsgottobegreen

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 What to look for when buying topsoil

My buddy who i get my topsoil screens it himself and the stock pile is covered to keep the topsoil dry. He get the soil off farmers field before they build houses. Which is funny because i come in and put it back. Sometime the topsoil taken and replace on the same house. I get topsoil delivered at $20 a yard. Everybody else $25. Get dry topsoil it helps. Also a 10% peat most,30% sand and 60% top soil is called loam, which doesn't compact itself. I had to expain how to make that to my buddy. The grass grows like you wouldn't belive. I used loam on one area of a customers lawn. The grass grew so well that i had to come back and redo the rest of the yard to make the grass match.






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 12-24-2003, 16:06 Post: 72121
grinder

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 What to look for when buying topsoil

You may want to ask what size screen they are using.
I would not want anything over 3/4" slotted loam screen.
You will notice a big difference when finish raking.
I quess $12 buck a yard for rich screened field loam isn't
so bad after all. $25-30 a yard OUCH!
If buying buy the ton ,you might want to check those
figures.






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