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Very often projects around your garden including; gardening, patios or garden structures can leave you with excess soil. It is usually very surprising just how much soil can come out of seemingly moderate excavations.
As soil is excavated out of its compacted state it can bulk up buy up to 35%. This means you actually get a larger volume of soil out of a smaller volume of excavation.
This is important to bear in mind if you are working out quantity volumes of excavated spoil.
Know your garden soil
There are two main types of garden soil you need to be aware of. The more valuable crumbly topsoil layer and the claggy and compacted subsoil layer.
This is the dark coloured, crumbly, layer which typically makes up the top 300mm of soil. Topsoil takes millions of years to develop and is rich in soil ecology. If you want to get rid of soil from your garden topsoil is more valuable for others to re-use.
Subsoil is the less fertile and compacted layer of soil found during excavations deeper than 300mm. This is typically made up of bedrock particles such as clay and chalk. This is a much less valuable material being difficult to shift and less use to others.
8 Ways to get rid of soil from your garden
Sometimes left over soil from projects is a bit of an afterthought and leaves the dilemma of how to dispose of it. In this article we will list 8 main ways to get rid of unwanted soil from your garden.
1. Hire a skip
The most typical way to get rid of soil from your garden is by hiring a skip. Bear in mind that the maximum sized skip for filling with soil is an 8 yard skip. Any heavier load than this will be too heavy for the skip lorry to lift on collection.
How to fill soil into a skip with a wheelbarrow
The best way to load the skip will be with abuilder’s wheelbarrow and a scaffold board.
However be aware if you are not used to doing this you will need to go easy at first as there is a knack.
Be sure to start with small loads in the barrow first to get used to the movement. Wheel the barrow up the ramp and fill one side of the skip until it is piling up.
Using your bodyweight compact the loaded ground to create a compacted level platform inside. You can now start to create a compacted land bridge across the skip made of waste soil.
Eventually you will get to the other side and start filling the soil backwards in heaps. Compact the waste soil as you go until the skip is completely full.
There is something extremely fulfilling and rewarding about filling skips!
2. Hire a grab lorry
Grab Lorries are large vehicles capable of loading up to 18 tonnes of waste material. These will only be required for very large projects however are sometimes necessary.
If you are ordering a grab lorry you will need to make sure there is access for a 25tonne vehicle. Make sure you can load your 18 tonnes of soil close enough for the grab to reach. A heaped up load of soil will need 50 square metres of storage space next to a road.
Make sure you are not blocking any pedestrian routes and you protect surfaces with boards.
You will still need to help shovel up smaller heaps of soil the grab bucket cannot get to.
Make you leave the surrounding area clean and tidy when the grab lorry is finished.
3. Advertise it for collection
There are always people who are sometimes interested in free soil. Builders and landscapers may have a large void to fill or others may wish to raise garden levels.
However, soil is very difficult to load and transport! Very often the hassle of moving it outweighs its intrinsic value. However you can always try advertising it on local social media groups and sharing websites.
Be sure to provide an accurate description or image of its quality. Also attempt to provide a good estimate of its volume in cubic metres or bags etc.
4. Hire ground workers
Commonly the average person does not have the man power or equipment to shift large quantities of soil. Therefore it may be worth hiring a ground worker or local landscaper to do the work for you.
Invite contractors to tender for the project and give you a price to complete the work. You will be very surprised just how fast and efficiently experienced contactors can complete the job.
5. Re-level your garden
Another great way to lose excess soil is by re-levelling your gardens levels. This is particularly suitable if you have a natural divot or low spot in your garden.
However any increased level of your garden will be restrained by fence levels. Also many times you may need to install robust, retaining, features to prevent boundaries from being weakened.
6. Build a rockery
If you don’t want to remove soil from your garden you may want to make a feature of it. One of the best ways to do this is to build a raised rockery.
These are relatively simple and inexpensive to put together. Simply grade the ground into a shape you like trying to make it look natural.
Set in rockery rocks and plant with either alpine or Mediterranean plants. Rockeries can also be a great way to add some height and interest to your garden.
7. Use it in raised beds
One of the very best strategies for getting rid of soil from your garden is to lose it in raised beds. Simply work out how much soil volume you have and build a corresponding sized bed!
The fastest and easiest way to do this is with timber sleepers. These can be bolted together to create the perfect growing beds for vegetables or specimen plants.
If you have large quantities of soil perhaps create a long, linear, raised bed down one side of your garden. It can be quite amazing just how much soil you can utilise in this way.
It is important to note that recycling garden soil this way is much better for the environment. Fill the bottom with subsoil and the top with topsoil; alternatively buy good quality loam for the top 300mm.
8. Create a mound
A garden mound may seem like an excuse to simply dump a mound of soil in your garden! However mounds do have some use both functionally and aesthetically. Mounds can create a psychological barrier from one area of your garden to another.
They can also create a well drained environment to grow more dry loving plants. A good example of this could be an outside desert garden or succulent garden. With a growing interest in more ecological landscaping mounds can also provide security for wildlife.
Meadows do not require the same mowing regime as lawns and are full of colour. Meadow mounds can become sustainable features attracting many species of wildlife.
However you choose to get rid of soil from your garden mounds provide a choice which is both interesting and ecological.
Thank you for reading our article on how to get rid of soil from your garden. If you are planning on doing the work yourself check out our digging equipment article here.
If you are working on a larger landscaping project why not visit our resources page here.
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Paul Nicolaides has over 30 years of recreational gardening and 20 years of professional landscaping experience. He has worked for landscape contractors including design and build practices across London and the South East. In 2006 he qualified with a BA Hons degree and post graduate diploma in Landscape Architecture. In 2009 he founded Ecospaces an ecological landscaping practice which aims to improve social cohesion and reduce climate change through landscaping. In 2016 he founded Buckinghamshire Landscape Gardeners which designs and builds gardens across Buckinghamshire and the South East. This blog aims to provide easy problem solving information to its audience and encourage others to take up the joy of landscaping and gardening.