Recycling Dirt

sueAugust 29, 2005

We just finished building a patio in our backyard. There is now a huge mound of dirt behind our garage which downslopes into the backyard. I am planning to make somes tiers in this spot. My question is, how do I make this recycled material good enough to garden in? There are still chunks of grass attached to the dirt. What do I do to kill the grass? What should I add to make the soil fertile? BTW, I have an overgrown lilac in the midst of this that I'm trying to get rid of. Any suggestions for that would be MOST welcome. Thanks :)

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username_5(banned for no reason)

Dig up the lilac.

To improve the soil add compost.

To kill the grass cover the pile with plastic for a few weeks to smother and cook it. An excellent way to make compost from unwanted sod is to pile the sod on a plastic sheet and when finished, wrap the plastic over the sod and leave in the sun for a month. Poof, you have compost.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2005 at 11:03PM
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i have two words for you: lasagna gardening.

i did it in a bed that was nothing but leftover construction material. Now, the soil's the best in that area.

Here are the basics: leave the grass as it is. layer it with newspaper (it will kill the grass/weeds and work wonders for the soil). then add anything you would to a compost pile: sand, soil, kitchen waste, peat moss, manur, coffee (i went to Starbucks 2/3 times a week), garden waste, etc etc. i even threw in the weeds. basically, the more the better.

then let the winter do the work. next spring, you'll have great soil.

if you're impatient like me, you can even plant in it now.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 9:24AM
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meldy_nva(z6b VA)

Just don't forget to top a lasagna bed with mulch. I find it works well to keep adding layers until hard frost (I like to add a newspaper layer between every couple inches of other stuff); but after the weather freezes, cover the pile with at least 4" mulch... if your zone has frigid winters more mulch is better, to permit the microbes and earthworms to do their work overwinter.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 10:49AM
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:) didn't think it would be that easy, did ya? (:

but they've got it right- this is just doing what mother nature does, faster.

there will be some wheel-barrow and shovel work to do in the spring (to terrace the pile, you have to inset the stones/blocks/lumber/whatever a bit, or it will just fall apart in a year or two)

but I add about 2" of good humus a year to my garden- which is what's left from 8" or so of mulch, grass clippings (I get them from the neighbors who 'do' lawns) and old leaves.

    Bookmark   August 30, 2005 at 11:14AM
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If you decide to cover it with plastic, make sure it is black plastic. I covered some weeds with clear plastic and they grew bigger. It acted like a green house!

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 6:18PM
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Thank you all for your suggestions. That does seem easy. I'd better start diverting my newspapers from the recycling bin :) Now to tackle the lilac ...

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 8:35PM
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