Tips for Rehabilitating a House Site after the Builders Leave
For the new home owner, or for owners of established homes with recent extensions, a very common problem is how to turn an area of disturbed soil, often containing builder’s debris, into a healthy, fertile garden.
There are two main ways of providing suitable soil conditions for healthy plant growth in such a situation:
1. Bring in soil from elsewhere. This can often be very expensive. The imported soil may also bring its own problems. It may carry a lot of weed seeds it may have high salt levels, etc. It is very important that you obtain your soils from a reliable supplier. Deeper rooted plants growing in such imported soils may find it difficult for their roots to penetrate the underlying, original soil. It is also important to remember that mining soil for use in gardens could be considered as contributing to the environmental degradation of the mined areas.
2. Work with the soil you already have on‑site to make it suitable for healthy plant growth. This can also be an expensive exercise. It is also generally time consuming. It is, however, worthwhile in the long run. The first step is to remove as much as the builder’s debris as possible by hand or by raking it up into a heap. This can be disposed of at your local tip or perhaps may be used to fill any deep holes left after construction.
· The next step is to form the soil to create the desired contours and levels. You might create raised garden beds, mounds, or simply a level surface. Remember to provide sufficient slope for good surface drainage. Depending on the scale of the operation, this can be done using mechanical equipment such as a bobcat or small tractor, or by hand. Sub‑surface drainage systems can be installed at this stage, in areas where drainage is likely to be a problem.
· Before planting, the soil will need to be cultivated. This can be done using a rotary hoe or by hand. At this stage, additives such as organic matter, gypsum, sand (for heavy soils) and Multicrop 'Clay Breaker' can be incorporated into the soil to improve the soil's structure, water holding capacity and fertility. The soil pH should be tested and lime added to acidic soils (see section on pH). Also fertilise the soil, using organic fertilisers (for long‑term benefit) or chemical fertilisers (for a quicker response). The soil should be now sufficiently prepared for planting. The addition of mulches at or just after planting will also be beneficial.
Learn more about Landscaping and Garden Renovation
Course -Restoring Established Ornamental Gardens -click for course details
Course -Soil Management -click for details
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