How to dig hard soil + need more advice


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I'm trying to get rid of weeds in my garden. I followed advice from my local gardening shop... they said spray weed killer and then take out weeds after 2-3 weeks.

95% of weeds dried up now. A few problems:

- The soil is VERY hard! How do I dig?
The expert in the house (my wife) suggested watering first and then digging - I don't fancy a mud bath though!

- Some weeds are dry on on top - but have a very fresh root!
Is the job half done? Do I need to apply weedkiller again?

My first plan was to put cardboard on top and get woodchip and put over.
But... I don't have enough depth for the woodchip + cardboard.
So I was thinking of getting plastic membrane and putting on top and then adding woodchip.
And then ... grow things from large plant boxes.
Is this a good idea?

Oh... one more thing... there's some DANGEROUS weeds our there! Looks harmless... but razor sharp - cuts through my gloves like butter. What gloves should I wear?

Thanks.
 
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alp

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If you have clay, you can't really follow the no-dig method. @Silentrunning told us how he was saddened by inches of water even though he had inches of mulch, soil on top of his clay. Once heavens open and/ or after a sustained period of rain, you clay pan will turn your plot into a pond.

Even on a gardening programme, a lady presenter said that No-dig experiment they had was a success, but then, the area involved had been turned over millions of times and soil / sand / organic matters had been added.

You could dig holes of 8 inches in different areas of your garden, pour water right to the top to see how fast it drain. If water disappears fast, you can use your cardboard there. If the water stays, out should come your fork and spade.

You need probably a year to suppress the weeds with cardboards. @Chuck will give you good advice!

If you want your plants come out well, you will need to invest in a lot of digging if it is clay, organic matters (could be dead trees, dead leaves, cow manure, chicken pellets...) Trees must be totally dead or you will have tons of small trees going around your garden. A lot of people are sold on the idealised no-dig method, but if you have clay, you need to work on it before mulching goodness on top.
 
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One thing my clay is very good at is holding water. Because it is so hot here, fungus is a real problem late in the season. I use hillrow planting but even then some plants like curcubits want to grow off the hills and down into the wet pathways. Raised beds might be better for you for some plants.
 

alp

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@enginestar Put an ad on Freewheely or freecycle for free top soil/bark chips or wood dust please. You will be in luck if a tree surgeon works nearby and wants to dump his rubbish on your plot. You could pay £10 for delivery. But get a whole lot of bark chips which are perfect as organic matter. But don't deceive yourself that you can get away with digging. If it's clay, out comes your fork and spade. Was it you who want to grow melon? You need a lot of urine, horse manure and heat .. Have you seen Chris Beardshaw's experiment in The Beechgrove garden? That was done is Scotland, so you have hope. But ideally, melon seeds should be started earlier. With this freaky weather, you just never know!
 
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No plastic!!! For many reasons.
Do not wet the soil to dig, it will make matters worse.

My sol is so hard I needed a hammer drill and chisel bit once down about 6"

You could till the top, cover in cardboard, cover that in top soil, compost, peat and manure then top with mulch. No poison needed, just put down enough cardboard and wet the area between layers.
Punch holes in the cardboard and plant in the holes, the following year the cardboard should almost be gone.

Here is another option but it may not be what you are looking for but here's an idea I came up with in a problem area with a huge stump. This was on a hill leading into my yard.
I was going to dig out the stump... yeah right!





Here's another area that I utilized .



Both these areas are on rock hard clay soil.



If it were me I would build up around the problem area and fill using Hugelkultur/Lasagna method.

Dig out about 6-12" and set aside, clay soil does have its advantages, build the bed around the dug out area, start filling with logs, twigs, hay, yard waste, tree trimmings, shredded paper, cardboard, leaves, ashes, burnt wood, pizza boxes any bio-mass you can get your hands on and your dug out soil.
Make sure to layer everything and wet down between layers. Larger stuff should be on the bottom









2nd season with this bed.
 
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guys thanks for the awesome replies
@SQWIB gold star goes to you for some inspiring pics - all look absolutely amazing!

>> No plastic!!! For many reasons.
plastic is favourite at the moment.
i looked up details and they say the plastic is recyclable.

biggest problem is i have concrete surrounding. the soil is 4cm below concrete.
so can't put down cardboard - i would have to dig up a ton of soil beforehand.

but then the biggest problem is woodchip.
i haven't found a cheap place to get from. tree surgeon idea sounds good. i'll maybe call around and contact.

else... maybe go for rubber?
(is that a complete bad thing and unfriendly for the environment!!?)
 
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Best to post some pics, I'm at a lots as to what you are doing.
Not sure where you are going with the plastic?
Is it permanent or temporary?
If permanent don't use it. The plastic will sour the soil and create a barrier that microbes and other beneficials can not get through.
You need to think of the soil requirements and not just the plants requirements.
 
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Best to post some pics, I'm at a lots as to what you are doing.
Not sure where you are going with the plastic?
Is it permanent or temporary?
If permanent don't use it. The plastic will sour the soil and create a barrier that microbes and other beneficials can not get through.
You need to think of the soil requirements and not just the plants requirements.
The first of these nutrients are oxygen, water and heat from the sun in the top few inches of the soil.
 
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getting ready to open yet another garden area this fall, as I have so many shubs and plants that are so over grown into each other they need room. As soon as we cut down a pine tree, 1/2 dead. the soil is hard also. will rent a tiller, and get ample bags of top soil, manure, if I can get mushroom soil that would be good. Anyway, dumping all bags on the area and will tiller the whole area. and to me that is taking care of hard soil. been doing it that way for 30 years.
 
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getting ready to open yet another garden area this fall, as I have so many shubs and plants that are so over grown into each other they need room. As soon as we cut down a pine tree, 1/2 dead. the soil is hard also. will rent a tiller, and get ample bags of top soil, manure, if I can get mushroom soil that would be good. Anyway, dumping all bags on the area and will tiller the whole area. and to me that is taking care of hard soil. been doing it that way for 30 years.
Yes Ma'am it is always important that those first 6 inches are of a high quality.
 
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Yes Ma'am it is always important that those first 6 inches are of a high quality.
Yes, in the long run, it saves money as the plants are successful always. I have an extra hydrangea to move, many fat hostas to split and move, then the hardy geraniums, some astilbies. Just waiting for September, cooler month. Been trying to give away also an extra Oak Leaf and extra Annabelle.
 
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alp

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If you have raised beds this tall, you should be OK. But make sure the tree trunks or green materials are totally dead or they will wake up to haunt you! LOL!

@SQWIB Awesome!
 

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