Compost, Topsoil or both?

The Evil Twin

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We cleared some land to the side of our house to add a U to the driveway so the RV and trailer can just be driven through. What is not going to be driveway is just dirt now. There was a little topsoil there but not much. It was more thicket than woods. Scrub brush, Holly, prickers and small saplings being choked by the pricker bushes. Topsoil that was there got the box blade treatment to mix it in. It's still very poor soil. The plan is to grass it and add some Maple trees as well as Green Giant Arborvitae to screen the area.
I can get leaf compost/ leaf mulch for <$30/ yard delivered. Topsoil and leaf compost blend for $35 or topsoil and orgrow blend for $40. The area is not intended to be a fairway. It's not going to get weed n feed. Little lambs are not going to lay down their weary head on it.
Out of the 3 options I have, what would you recommend?
My thoughts are that since it is not going to be a HOA worthy lawn why go for the black gold Orgrow mix. That, and topsoil is basically the later stages of leaf compost if you look at the cycle in the woods. So I kinda settled on just the compost and going to churn it up with the existing dirt to mix it all.
My neighbor (well, guy down the way) said the mix usually has sand added which helps reduce compaction. I get the sand part but no one nearby has it. They will make it for a price of course. But as I understand it, compost will alleviate compaction too.
Anyway....buy once, cry once. I don't mind spending money if it's the right thing to do. But I don't want to spend it needlessly. When it's 35 yards it adds up.
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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It's + or - $350 more to get the good stuff, unless I missed something.
That would be doing that, good topsoil makes things so much easier all the way around!
 

GeoHorn

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The delivery cost of materials is often the major factor in these sort of things.
I bought 8 yards of gravel which cost me $350… only $125 of which was for gravel…the other $225 was the delivery fee.
This is what led me to buy my own dump-trailer. I’ve since spent about $2K on material that would have cost me over $12K if I’d had it delivered.….leaving me with a “free” dump trailer, and over $2K real cash in my pocket.
 
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The Evil Twin

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It's + or - $350 more to get the good stuff, unless I missed something.
That would be doing that, good topsoil makes things so much easier all the way around!
Yeah, it's 350ish bucks. A car payment. A tank and a half of fuel. But since I'm not trying to have a manicured lawn....
However, I know it's not a 1 and done thing. I'll surely have to top dress again in the fall. Probably once again after that. Maybe use the cheap stuff for that. Get a good solid start with the black gold.
 

The Evil Twin

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L2501, LA526,
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The delivery cost of materials is often the major factor in these sort of things.
I bought 8 yards of gravel which cost me $350… only $125 of which was for gravel…the other $225 was the delivery fee.
This is what led me to buy my own dump-trailer. I’ve since spent about $2K on material that would have cost me over $12K if I’d had it delivered.….leaving me with a “free” dump trailer, and over $2K real cash in my pocket.
Delivery can be an issue sometimes. Not for the quantities I have ordered lately. 38 tons of reag was free delivery for 20+ tons. The soil is free delivery over 20 yards. Otherwise there is a $175 fee for the stone and $125 for the soil (and the price goes down per yard) The dirt is weird. It's actually cheaper to get 20 yards with no fee over 16 yards and pay the fee. I'm sure someone has done it. 😆
 

Mark_BX25D

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If you want a hard surface, and you have clay soil currently, definitely use the sand.

If not, don't. Sand + a binder (clay) makes mortar.


If it were me, I would go with the cheapest, for your use.
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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Yeah, it's 350ish bucks. A car payment. A tank and a half of fuel. But since I'm not trying to have a manicured lawn....
However, I know it's not a 1 and done thing. I'll surely have to top dress again in the fall. Probably once again after that. Maybe use the cheap stuff for that. Get a good solid start with the black gold.
Yea I agree, I would do a good base and refinish with cheaper later.
I'm the exact opposite here, got a ton of sand and very little of anything else.
I hauled in quite a few dump truck loads of Clay, Compost and Manure to make my lawn better, but still have a long was to go!
 
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The Evil Twin

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If you want a hard surface, and you have clay soil currently, definitely use the sand.

If not, don't. Sand + a binder (clay) makes mortar.


If it were me, I would go with the cheapest, for your use.
It's already hard enough. The dirt bike will actually lay down rubber on it in the summer. There will be black skid marks on top of the dirt. I'm thinking I need more organics. Not really fine stone (sand).
@North Idaho Wolfman you may have spent my money. Yeah, I don't need pristine grass. But I'll (hopefully) only have one chance to really churn the soil up and mix in good earth.
For those that don't know, Orgrow is basically people Manure from the waste treatment plant. All the non organic stuff is filtered and the slurry is dried, cooked and peletized.
 

Mark_BX25D

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It's already hard enough. The dirt bike will actually lay down rubber on it in the summer. There will be black skid marks on top of the dirt. I'm thinking I need more organics.

That's exactly what you need.

See if you can get some tree companies to drop their wood chips. Their chip trucks are usually 10 yards. I try to get a truckload every year to put on paths, and the soil under those paths is great stuff.

There are some websites where you can register your property as a place to dump chips. They just connect you with tree companies that are looking for a place where they can dump them for free.

 
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Mark_BX25D

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The "scrub brush" and "pricker bushes" will probably just grow back through it anyway.
Rent some pigs for a while. I hear they'll strip every root out of the soil and cultivate it in the process.

Then level and plant.
 

The Evil Twin

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That's exactly what you need.

See if you can get some tree companies to drop their wood chips. Their chip trucks are usually 10 yards. I try to get a truckload every year to put on paths, and the soil under those paths is great stuff.

There are some websites where you can register your property as a place to dump chips. They just connect you with tree companies that are looking for a place where they can dump them for free.

Now that you mention it... I did have an idea similar. One of the guys down the road does firewood on the side. Every so often he rents a firewood processor. He has piles of sawdust left over afterwards. Last year I asked him if I could buy some and he said to just get what I want. He just burns it. I used that load to act as mulch in an area I cleared the brush from and left the hardwoods. I was thinking to get more and mix that into the soil as well.
 

GreensvilleJay

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You either spend money up or money AND time later on ! he better quality the soil is NOW, the faster and better the grass will grow, the sooner you'll have to cut grass.
Do NOT put 'wood chip / sawdust ' directly into the soil ! It's 'brown' and will consume ALL of the nitrogen in the soil and you'll wonder 'WHY can't I grow grass ???" Mix the 'brown' with grass clippings and in 4-6 months you'll have 'cooked' compost. THAT you can add, here,there, everywhere. BTW do NOT put ANY Black Walnut parts into a veggie garden.
For years I hauled dump trailer loads of 'stable sweepings' (pony poop and pine shavings ), mixed with clippings and other organics,drywall cutoffs, let it cook, then added to veggie garden and easily grew 1500# pumpkins.
So, the more you put in, the more you get out.
 
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Daylight

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That's exactly the technique used in ancient times in Japan (and probably many other countries) to create new fields out of a piece of forest: cut and remove the trees, then fence off the land and let loose the hogs, who will transform it into a fine field, ready for sowing.

Rent some pigs for a while. I hear they'll strip every root out of the soil and cultivate it in the process.

Then level and plant.
 

Mark_BX25D

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Do NOT put 'wood chip / sawdust ' directly into the soil ! It's 'brown' and will consume ALL of the
...
organics,drywall cutoffs, let it cook, then added to veggie garden and easily grew 1500# pumpkins.
So, the more you put in, the more you get out.

What he said. All of it.

That free sawdust is WILL BE gold.... next year.
 
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The Evil Twin

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L2501, LA526,
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Hmm....good info on the sawdust! I never would have known. Thank you for that. I'll squirrell it away when I get some and dump my coffee grounds in it over the summer. I don't bag when I mow but I suppose I could use the push mower a bit and get some.
 

jyoutz

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We cleared some land to the side of our house to add a U to the driveway so the RV and trailer can just be driven through. What is not going to be driveway is just dirt now. There was a little topsoil there but not much. It was more thicket than woods. Scrub brush, Holly, prickers and small saplings being choked by the pricker bushes. Topsoil that was there got the box blade treatment to mix it in. It's still very poor soil. The plan is to grass it and add some Maple trees as well as Green Giant Arborvitae to screen the area.
I can get leaf compost/ leaf mulch for <$30/ yard delivered. Topsoil and leaf compost blend for $35 or topsoil and orgrow blend for $40. The area is not intended to be a fairway. It's not going to get weed n feed. Little lambs are not going to lay down their weary head on it.
Out of the 3 options I have, what would you recommend?
My thoughts are that since it is not going to be a HOA worthy lawn why go for the black gold Orgrow mix. That, and topsoil is basically the later stages of leaf compost if you look at the cycle in the woods. So I kinda settled on just the compost and going to churn it up with the existing dirt to mix it all.
My neighbor (well, guy down the way) said the mix usually has sand added which helps reduce compaction. I get the sand part but no one nearby has it. They will make it for a price of course. But as I understand it, compost will alleviate compaction too.
Anyway....buy once, cry once. I don't mind spending money if it's the right thing to do. But I don't want to spend it needlessly. When it's 35 yards it adds up.
Get good topsoil and mix in some of the mulched leaf litter.
 
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The Evil Twin

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L2501, LA526,
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Virginia
Yall have pretty much convinced me to start it out right with the good stuff instead of saying I should have later on.
Buy once....cry once!
 
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GreensvilleJay

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they'll be 'tears of joy', once the grass comes up PDQ, and real purdy too !!!
Course then you'll have to CUT that grass ! hmm...seems like a 'make work forever' project ??
 

jyoutz

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they'll be 'tears of joy', once the grass comes up PDQ, and real purdy too !!!
Course then you'll have to CUT that grass ! hmm...seems like a 'make work forever' project ??
Yes, but grass is easier to maintain than weeds and brush.
 
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