I need to buy soil

franksmom_2010March 21, 2012

We've removed everything that was either dead or overgrown in our foundation beds, and need to add soil to the beds before we replant. This is mostly clay soil, that was lightly ammended a few years ago when we moved in.

My plan: Hand till in the remaining bark mulch, add Black Cow manure, compost, expanded shale, and "landscape mix" from Lowes. I've used that landscape mix before, and thought it was a fine product, but what do I know. Put in the new plants, and top all of it with fresh mulch.

Between all of the beds, DH has figured that we need about 30 cubic feet of soil to raise the level of the beds to the sidewalk. He thinks my plan is too expensive and too much trouble, and would rather buy a truckload of soil from somewhere, rather than bags of this and that.

Does anyone have experience with this? Was the quality of the soil sold in bulk as good as what I'll get doing it my way? How much of a price difference can I expect between bagged products and bulk?

I live south of Dallas, and Living Earth Technologies is just a few miles from me. There's also Lowes, Home Depot, and I think at least one other bulk seller just outside of town.

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I can't answer your questions but if you are adding the black cow manure I don't think you need to add the compost too. I'd say add one or the other.

As to your other questions, a few thoughts:
Its a matter of how you are going to haul this stuff to the beds?
If you get all bagged products it might be easier than getting a load of dirt dropped off and then moving it all with a wheelbarrow or wagon.
It also depends on who is doing it and what condition they're in. Are they going to hurt themselves doing this labor and need medical care afterwards? :)

A load dropped off at my house would mean I'd have to hire someone to do the hauling and spreading for me. Earlier this year I had a huge load of compost delivered. It took 3 guys 4-5 hours to get it spread.

Also getting the bagged stuff you can spread out the cost over time.. doing one bed or area at a time and not over work yourself or spend all the money at one time. You can spread it out over a few pay checks.

Another thought is that this is our rainy season. A load dropped off now may coincide with bad weather and have to sit a while--wet and heavy. Bagged products won't get washed away and won't get water logged (tarp them) if you can't get to work on the project immediately.

I save the empty bags and use them for bagging up weeds through out the year or to store some of my own compost when I break down a compost bin.

I hope someone can help you figure it out the math. I'm not help when it comes to numbers.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:02AM
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Thanks so much!

That's exactly what I was thinking, too. There are three beds that wrap around the house, and some need more work than others. There are still some plants and shrubs in all of them.

My plan was to work on one bed at a time (at least for the soil), and spread the work out over several weeks. It's just DH and I doing the work, and while we're in pretty good shape, we're not as young as we used to be. It seems to me that if we have a truckload brought in all at once, any money we saved would be spend on either paying someone to help, or the sweat equity of doing it ourselves. I don't want to have to play beat the clock with the weather.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:31AM
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lou_texas(8a N Central TX)

If you decide to go the bulk route, don't get the LIT specialty soil with expanded shale -- I think they're now calling it Clay Buster. My beds were FILLED with corn-type weeds after I got a bulk order of this. I've used regular compost from them before and was satisfied, except for once when it was way too fresh - neighbors didn't care for the smell. Now when I need something extra, I just use the bagged Black Kow, alfalfa, and sometimes soybean meal or cottonseed compost. This works for me.

I don't remember the prices of bulk vs bagged for comparison. I've done it both ways. I think it just depends on whether you have someone ready and able to spread the stuff right away once it's dumped, as Melvalena said. I have had to resort to covering the whole thing with a HUGE tarp (in my driveway) when rain came to quickly. In the end, everything worked out, but now I prefer the bagged ammendments. Lou

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 11:43AM
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check stables in your area, you can probably get all the manure you want free, probably composted too. I get mulch from the city and use it for everything, including potting plants and filling up beds, it breaks down quickly to a great rich black soil. And it's free, yeah, I gotta haul it and load it. I've found it works better than any soil or potting mix I've bought over the years.

We filled the area along the fence with bags of clipping & leaves we picked up around town. I planted directly into the mulch/leaves/grass clippings and everything took off. So we made raised beds for free and the stuff didn't take anytime to break down into great soil.
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 12:42PM
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I have a friend who kept a few cattle just to get an agricultural tax classification. He heaped up the manure and, when he thought it had "cured" sufficiently, worked it into his large veggie garden. He couldn't keep tomato plants alive for years afterwards. He sent a soil sample to A&M, and they told him the manure had introduced some sort of destructive micro-organism into the soil. Hard to get rid of.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 12:58PM
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wantonamara Z8 CenTex

Any manure needs to be composted, not just aged. I do bulk and the place that I buy bulk also lets me load my own bags. I save a lot that way and then I can "design" my soil. They have all sorts of additives sold bulk. Not expanded shale. But decomposed granite and "revita;izer mulch" that is great for clay.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 10:32PM
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Well, you need just 30 cubic feet? That is basically 1 yard of material(1 yard = 27cf). A yard of custom soil will cost between 25-40 bucks. A yard will also easily fit into a pickup bed. All the other posters raised valid points. Moving the materials, weather and all that stuff definitely applies. Since most bags of material come in 2 cubic foot increments, you can expect to need about 15 bags or so of material. It might cost you 40-50bucks, but it is easier to handle. If you need the bulk materials delivered to your place, the delivery will usually cost 75-100 bucks, so only get it delivered when you are getting large quantities, such as 5+ yards.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:10AM
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Thanks so much!

I thought about all of the pros and cons, and went ahead and started buying the bagged stuff. So far I have 4 bags of landscape mix, and 3 bags each of expanded shale and manure. We have a new composter, so I'll add in the compost whenever the manure runs out.

I'm just going to work on one bed at a time, and see how it goes. I'm already tired!

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 6:35PM
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my experince with cow manure is that every weed that the cows ate will come up in your garden/flower bed. i about never got read of the weeds that came up in my garden.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 9:50PM
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I use soil and or mulch from "Living Earth" in Dallas. They are used by "The Dallas arboretum". It is their official soil and amendments supplier for their gardens.

Just type in Living Earth and choose the Dallas area and you will see all the services they offer.

No, this is not an advertisement, it is just what I consider to be the best resource when you want to take care of your garden.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 2:01PM
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If you have weeds you don`t have enough plants. Or no chickens.
Just my gardening philosphy LOL!
I find weeds, pull weeds and plant something in the spot the weeds were growing. I haven`t weeded some parts of the garden for years, no way for the weeds to get a foothold. The chickens are doing a wonderful job of weeding the backyard, now if they would quit eating the roses....
Tally HO!

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 3:09PM
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ilovemyroses(8 Dallas TX)

Ditto on living earth technology. Had eight cubic yards delivered this spring, altho some pieces of the finer grade of mulch had pieces the size of my arm! But I'll be back!

    Bookmark   April 8, 2012 at 8:21PM
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