A Goliath project on a David budget

Hi Folks,
I just joined the forum today so thought I'd pop on to say hi. I've recently finished building a new house which I'm over the moon with. Unfortunately, my house with a footprint of 93 square metres is sitting on a building site of 870 square metres which I want to change in to a lovely garden. However, the house has swallowed most of my money and my fingers are decidedly un-green!! Little bits at a time though.
Firstly, I'm based in Orkney so you can rest assured that my garden will get plenty of wind and rain. The soil seems to be a thin layer of topsoil with some horrible wet, sticky clay beneath. At the weekend I hired a mini-excavator and took out the bottom of my sloping back garden. My intention is to increase the width of the path at the back of the house by 200% to create a nice patio. I also plan to hold the garden back with a retaining wall at about 2-3 feet high. I'll decide on the final height when I see it. I'm going to be doing all the work myself which I'm quite looking forward to.
The last thing I paid my builder to do was to build a perimeter wall around my land. He did a top job and it's looking amazing. Unfortunately, as my house is on a slope, the water has really started gathering at the back of the wall round the front of my house. Not good!! So, I'm going to have to think about putting in some drainage. I was considering just digging a sump and filling it with hardcore but I'm not sure if that's going to be enough. I may have to connect a perforated pipe to the surface drain connected to the SUDS. More than likely, I'll end up having to do the same with the retaining wall at the back.
My aim is to have grass in this year so I'm up against it trying to fit everything in with a full time job and dark evenings. Not to mention the awful weather.
Is it worth me digging in the sticky clay while it's still soaking wet? I need to put in a base for my patio. Will sand alone be sufficient for that or so I really need hardcore? I'm sure I'll have loads of questions throughout my adventure but I'm in it for the longhaul so am looking forward to the challenges.
--
saltdog


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If your English clay is anything like what we've got in California (adobe), you sure don't want to be trying to dig it when it's dry!
Patty
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'Patty Winter[_2_ Wrote: > ;951634']In article snipped-for-privacy@gardenbanter.co.uk,

> -

Much as I appreciate the response and agree with you Patty, I must clarify that my clay is very much Scottish and not English. Lol.
You have a point though. I never really meant when it was baked dry though. I'm thinking that happens less in Scotland than it would in California anyway. I just wondered if there was any point digging it while it was efectively a pond. The rain has been relentless here since I actually dug it out. I am going to get out there with a fork tonight though to see if I can't get a little bit of it to drain away.
--
saltdog


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Sorry, "saltdog"! (Also sorry to not address you properly by name, but I don't know what it is.) Dunno why I thought that the part of the UK you were in was England. Well, if you folks get that referendum sorted out, the difference will be even clearer. :-)

LOL--probably so! It's in the '70s F here today, and it's February!

No, you're right, it isn't. Wait until it's still soft but not soggy. Good luck!
Patty
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On 2/23/12 1:48 AM, saltdog wrote:

When you dig truly wet clay, you make the soil stucture far worse than it was unless you are removing the clay and hauling it away. Actually, you cannot even walk on wet clay without adversely affecting the soil structure.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On 2/21/12 8:16 AM, saltdog wrote:

A well-built wall -- either a perimeter wall or a retaining wall -- should have weep holes to allow for drainage. If your perimeter wall does not have weep holes, you should get a good masonry drill bit and create some.
To make the clay less sticky and more easy to dig, broadcast a generous amount of gypsum over the area, perhaps a centimeter (1/3 inch). Let the rain rinse it into the soil. Repeat at least once.
A retaining wall needs to be engineered correctly. This is generally NOT a do-it-yourself project. There are issues about footings (depth and width), anchoring into the slope, amount and size of rebar (steel rods), grout, etc.
A retaining wall is not a slough wall. I have the latter at the foot of a slope. It does not hold the slope but merely prevents small amounts of loose soil from reaching the flat area of my garden. When my slope failed, it overtopped the slough wall. It cost over $150,000US to regrade the slope; it would have cost twice that to use a retaining wall to hold the slope.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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David E. Ross wrote: ...

if it's heavy soil behind they might not do much good. in clay the footings and back fill become even more important. in areas where there are frost/thaw cycles it becomes triply important.

agreed. if you're going to do this do it well because if you do it wrong and it fails it costs a lot of effort to do it all over again correctly.

holy crap! that could buy three to five houses in any of several local small towns around here.
songbird
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saltdog;951563 Wrote: > Hi Folks,

> recently finished building a new house which I'm over the moon with. > Unfortunately, my house with a footprint of 93 square metres is sitting > on a building site of 870 square metres which I want to change in to a > lovely garden. However, the house has swallowed most of my money and my > fingers are decidedly un-green!! Little bits at a time though.

> get plenty of wind and rain. The soil seems to be a thin layer of > topsoil with some horrible wet, sticky clay beneath. At the weekend I > hired a mini-excavator and took out the bottom of my sloping back > garden. My intention is to increase the width of the path at the back > of the house by 200% to create a nice patio. I also plan to hold the > garden back with a retaining wall at about 2-3 feet high. I'll decide > on the final height when I see it. I'm going to be doing all the work > myself which I'm quite looking forward to.

> around my land. He did a top job and it's looking amazing. > Unfortunately, as my house is on a slope, the water has really started > gathering at the back of the wall round the front of my house. Not > good!! So, I'm going to have to think about putting in some drainage. > I was considering just digging a sump and filling it with hardcore but > I'm not sure if that's going to be enough. I may have to connect a > perforated pipe to the surface drain connected to the SUDS. More than > likely, I'll end up having to do the same with the retaining wall at the > back.

> everything in with a full time job and dark evenings. Not to mention > the awful weather.

> I need to put in a base for my patio. Will sand alone be sufficient for > that or so I really need hardcore? I'm sure I'll have loads of > questions throughout my adventure but I'm in it for the longhaul so am > looking forward to the challenges.
Hi saltdog,
Ask the locals about Plaggen soil Its what these island people used for thousands of years for agriculture.
This type of soil is made from urine soaked peat (from cattle bedding), manure and chopped up seaweed. However with the size of your garden a sturdy rotovator would be necessary. This soil has great cultivation properties, but as I say ask the locals they might even help get you started.
uriel13
The mind is like a parachute its totally useless unless it is open
--
uriel13


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uriel13;951836 Wrote: >
Hi saltdog,
An interesting note on Plaggen soils, some of the oldest were said to be created in the 12th and 13th centuries on the islands of Orkney and Shetland. To be honest I think that this date is way to late and was much earlier than this by about 1800 years earlier.
Now it is known that Wim Sombroek's father had converted some of his land into Plaggen fields. And that he produced greater crops due to this change in soil structure. However he did not use peat, he used chopped up straw and manure mixed with molasses and manure.
As far as I can ascertain, on having discovered the TP soil in the Amazon delta (he was not the first to do so) he saw the potential that such a soil would have in Europe. He died still not having unlocked the secret of this soil, however his work still goes on.
But getting back to the make up of the original Plaggen soil, it was originally created as an adjunct to the provision of bedding for cattle. Peat was cut, dried and laid out like bricks in the cattle sheds as bedding, when it became sodden with urine it was mixed with manure and was dug into the fields. It was almost like a TP effect except had no charcoal, so there was evidence of people unwittingly at first, producing a better soil.
It maybe that I am being hard on these ancient island people because peat would have reacted in the same manner as charcoal in sucking up the nutrient from both urine and manure. However it would have been a soil on the acidic side of neutral.
Now given that the site of Scara Brae had living quarters and a toilet system on Orkney 3 thousand years ago would seem to prove a high degree of intelligence had long been established.
As I understand it, these soils continued to be cultivated in this manner until the 1960's. However that is about the time when chemical crop production began, This would seem to have been the death knell of that form of soil cultivation.
However it would not take much effort to regain the viability of these former Plaggen soils. The watering of such soil with neat EM cultures would I believe bring life back into these soils. Now given that there is thousands of years of seaweed also within this soil, EM's would I believe re-create these Plaggen soils to their former health and nutritional value to crops.
The long lasting effect of Plaggen soils is like charcoal, down to the absorbency of the peat. It to can retain moisture and given the amount of seaweed within it these island soils could make a great difference to the crop yields if watered with EM's.
These are just my thoughts others will disagree
The mind is like a parachute it is totally usless unless it is open One word Uriel - Wow!!
I'm very impressed at your knowledge of soil types in Orkney. Obviously as a complete novice I can't even begin to comment but it sounds good nonetheless. Got information to impress the GF with now! Lol. :D
The wild grasses that were growing on the development before we all turned up and ruined it were definitely testament to the fertility of the land. As I only really want a decent lawn out of it, I'm not overly concerned about growing things just yet. right now it's more the landscaping aspect which intrests me.
The area I dug out was purely to lay concrete paving stones and create a large patio at the rear of the house. It is currently swimming with water so I was wondering if I would create any additional problems by throwing down a layer of dry mix sand and cement over the area to bed down the slabs? I want to get the construction aspects of the garden out of the way in order to start planting and sowing in the Spring.
Kevin
--
saltdog


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saltdog;951563 Wrote: > Hi Folks,

> recently finished building a new house which I'm over the moon with. > Unfortunately, my house with a footprint of 93 square metres is sitting > on a building site of 870 square metres which I want to change in to a > lovely garden. However, the house has swallowed most of my money and my > fingers are decidedly un-green!! Little bits at a time though.

> get plenty of wind and rain. The soil seems to be a thin layer of > topsoil with some horrible wet, sticky clay beneath. At the weekend I > hired a mini-excavator and took out the bottom of my sloping back > garden. My intention is to increase the width of the path at the back > of the house by 200% to create a nice patio. I also plan to hold the > garden back with a retaining wall at about 2-3 feet high. I'll decide > on the final height when I see it. I'm going to be doing all the work > myself which I'm quite looking forward to.

> around my land. He did a top job and it's looking amazing. > Unfortunately, as my house is on a slope, the water has really started > gathering at the back of the wall round the front of my house. Not > good!! So, I'm going to have to think about putting in some drainage. > I was considering just digging a sump and filling it with hardcore but > I'm not sure if that's going to be enough. I may have to connect a > perforated pipe to the surface drain connected to the SUDS. More than > likely, I'll end up having to do the same with the retaining wall at the > back.

> everything in with a full time job and dark evenings. Not to mention > the awful weather.

> I need to put in a base for my patio. Will sand alone be sufficient for > that or so I really need hardcore? I'm sure I'll have loads of > questions throughout my adventure but I'm in it for the longhaul so am > looking forward to the challenges.
Heres another example of how the FCC has failed in their responsibility to the public good: In 1995, the FCC forbade companies ownership of more than 40 stations. Clear Channel Communications now owns over 1,500. This rate of consolidation clearly shows no sign of slowing.
--
allen73


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allen73;951886 Wrote: > Heres another example of how the FCC has failed in their responsibility > to the public good: In 1995, the FCC forbade companies ownership of more > than 40 stations. Clear Channel Communications now owns over 1,500. This > rate of consolidation clearly shows no sign of slowing.
Oookaaayyy! :/ Am I missing something? I'm fairly sure my garden in the far north of Scotland isn't contravening any FCC rules but hey, I could be wrong. Lol. Thanks for the input though.
Kev
--
saltdog


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