SAND Subsoil HELP!

Discussion in 'General Gardening Discussion' started by Silvio Pacitt, Feb 13, 2021.

  1. Silvio Pacitt

    Silvio Pacitt Apprentice Gardener

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    Hi All

    I have a new build garden and along 2 sides of the garden I have 30cm on topsoil and below this is pure compacted sharp sand to about 1 meter. (that is as deep as I was able to check)

    I wish to plant standard fruit trees, shrubs perennials etc but fear that the sand subsoil will not substane the roots at all and if waterlogged will cause rot in the winter months.

    Can someone advise if this will be ok do I need to get a mini digger in to remove the sand?
     
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    • ARMANDII

      ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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      Hi Silvio, welcome to Gardeners Corner. Sandy soil will not water log, in fact, it will do the opposite as it's a free draining soil. I garden on 350 - 400 feet of pure sand that has had top soil and compost added over the decades and had no problems with drainage. With regard to planting Fruit Trees you should have no problems either but you will have to improve the soil around the planting, but that is normal practice anyway.
       
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      • Silvio Pacitt

        Silvio Pacitt Apprentice Gardener

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        Hi, thanks for the info, can I ask how deep your topsoil is?
         
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        • ARMANDII

          ARMANDII Low Flying Administrator Staff Member

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          @Silvio Pacitt

          Well, in the early years I had 200 tons, in two lots, put onto the garden which then was pure sand and, as most members know, I have an old disused Roman Sand Quarry about 25 yards from the Front Door of my House. That was followed by numerous trailer loads of Farm Manure, and Manure from the various Stables that are in my area, plus garden and used commercial compost over the years but, even so, I probably have only just over a foot of soil. Having said that though, I have two specimen Conifers and Acer Brilliantissismum, Lilacs, Buddleia, various large Shrubs, numerous established Hardy Perennials, Clematis, and thousand of bulbs in the borders, and a Wildlife pond in the Garden.
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          My point being that sandy soil is good to grow all kinds of Trees, Shrubs, and other plants but, like all gardens you have to keep improving the soil over the years. Sandy soil has many advantages in that you can easily improve the soil over the years, it's easy to work and dig on, it's fast draining rather than being subject to water logging, it is known as a hungry soil but, again, you can always feed the soil. If you, when planting the trees, put some compost into the hole it will help enormously, Standard Fruit tree roots do not go that deep but will spread out so if you keep improving your garden soil over the years it will all help.
          Perhaps, adding a handful of Blood, Fish and Bonemeal to the planting hole will also help the
          Trees establish and grow. So, planting anything on sandy is not a problem but, in my experience, just the opposite. I'm sure other GC members:love30: will be along to give you good, reliable advice
           
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          • Sian in Belgium

            Sian in Belgium Total Gardener

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            I also garden on pure sand, with just a thin layer of topsoil in some places (the grass has very little or none).

            As @ARMANDII says, add as much natural plant-food you can: leaf mould, home made compost, etc as often as you can. When planting shrubs and trees, we dig a planting hole twice as deep/big as normal, half-fill with a mix of home compost and “soil”, and then plant with a handful of chicken manure pellets - either in more half-and-half, or compost.

            Regarding fruit trees, I would recommend buying from a specialist nursery. Don’t just order on-line from them, but phone and ask to speak to an advisor (when I did, sometimes you end up speaking with the manager or owner...). Tell them your soil conditions, and location; what you want to grow; the space you have; the size you are aiming for. If you can, do your homework first, and know the root-stock that is normally recommended, and then ask if you need to choose a different one for your location. A good specialist nursery should be able to tell you what you need, to achieve what you want. As a base reference, we wanted trees around 8 foot high, so a largish garden tree. Because of the poor soil (its also on a slope, so drought is a constant threat), we have planted trees grown on small-orchard rootstock - so went up 2 sizes on the rootstock scale. The extra vigour is needed to establish the roots before the conditions hit them. That said, we have still lost 3 of the 7 trees - exceptionally hot and dry summers, year after year...

            edited to add hubby’s thoughts, after I discussed this post with him:
            Be prepared to tell them what grows well already, either in your garden, or if it’s new/empty, gardens around. A soil test will tell the soil-type of that bit of soil, which may be imported topsoil. Trees doing well in the neighbourhood will tell what the indigenous soil is!
            A specialist nursery may seem like an expensive option. They are compared to Aldi’s/Lidl’s etc (a great source of basic plants), but are on a par with most garden centres, and you get much more choice, and I think fantastic value and quality.
             
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              Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
            • Silvio Pacitt

              Silvio Pacitt Apprentice Gardener

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              Thank you all for your help :)
               
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              • Mike Allen

                Mike Allen Total Gardener

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                Soil Science is perhaps what this question relates to. NO. I'm not going to bog you down with facts and figures.

                Top Soil basically refers to about the top 12-18 inches of soil. As gardeners. We usually dig and cultivate in general. The top spit. The average depth of a spade or fork. Below that, to most gardeners. Who cares.

                Actually in fact. We should care. OK. In practice, we often spend loads of money, buying in top soil, covering over what we have got with loads of compost and heaven knows what.

                Today mention. Double digging, illegitimate child trenching etc. Mouths gape open. What's that? So may I take you on a digging trip... So divide your plot into resonable strips. Now dig. Lift and set aside the topsoil. Most important. Topsoil has to remain as such.

                Having dug out the topsoil. You have the subsoil. This is so often where your problems lie. Hey! this is all clay, or. Damn, all sand. Sand. Oh well that's not too bad, sand, drainage. STOP! don't be fooled. Loose sand is good. It has free drainage. Heavey compacted, compressed sand loses its drainabilitiy.


                So the subsoil, of what ever it's consistancy needs to be dealt with. Digging it over. Double digging, will help. Now is the time to add loads of vegetive/organic matter. Sandy soils must be kept open. Back- breaking. But well worth the effort.
                 
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