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Landscaping newly built home...just dirt and rocks, where to start?

I bought my home back in june and would like to start some landscaping as soon as the ground thaws (I am in Wyoming and still have 5 foot snow piles, so we have a few weeks). My question is where do I start? The ground is very hard and rocky so I know I'll need topsoil brought in, but how much? how many inches high should it go due to poor existing soil? I would like to put in a lawn and a few flower beds. If anyone knows these answers or a good website to check out I would appreciate it...A step by step would be great!

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Congrats on your new home! But yikes, still have those snow piles, hmm? Sorry about that.

    Your county extension service should be a great help in identifying what your soil may be deficient in. I think they'll send you a test kit for free, and then you send it back, get the results, then follow their recommendations.

    You might also ask them about buying steamed vs. non-steamed topsoil. You want the bad pathogens out before you start planting but I'm not sure whether that also kills the weed seeds that are found in most topsoil (you don't want to pay for those)


    I've become a HUGE fan of the DIY channel on cable. My favorite shows are:

    Yard Crashers: homeowners trying to solve one problem get surprise help from a landscaper who comes in and gives them an entire yard re-do. (And Ahmed is very hunky ... sigh)

    Rock Solid: two cousins show how to do hardscapes with rock, stone, gravel, etc. Some of their episodes are about indoor treatments as well but mostly outside.

    Desperate Landscapes: A house that has the worst yard on the block is transformed in a day by a crew of experts

    DIY also has a great website for details on what you see on the shows, and if you don't get the DIY channel, you can watch full episodes online.


    For my own garden, every year I buy a bag of sphagnum peat moss, some composted cow manure and sand. I put a LOT of peat moss in (great for drainage and conditioning the soil; plants love it), and maybe a couple of scoops (hand trowel) of cow manure into a wheelbarrow. Be stingy on the manure, as this stuff is powerful and can burn the roots of plants like tomatoes and other veggies.

    After the barrow stuff is mixed, then I put in a very generous helping of sand. Sand will do wonders for drainage, and although some say not to use play sand, I don't have any trouble with it.

    Most plants will need a hole dug a good 6" to 8" for a healthy root system.

    Bushes and shrubs will need a hole depth of 2x the root ball, and 2x the width. When you dig the holes, dig a bit deeper, then fill the bottom of the hole with your wheelbarrow mix. The roots will have plenty of space to move around for a few years if you do, and by then hopefully your deeper soil will be improved.

    Trees should also have a hole 2x the root ball and 3x the width. Here too you want to put some of your soil mixture into the hole. And it's okay to use some of the soil you dig out as long as it's not all clay. Roots have a hard time in clay and water won't reach them.

    Finally, you might consider buying some earthworms for your soil. The Extension service should be able to tell you about that too, I would think.

    Good luck with your gardens!!

  • 1 decade ago

    Start with a few big things. Trees, flowering shrubs a few grasses, and some perennials and annuals. Make a plan. Look out your windows and decide where you would like to see something besides a window or a door. Look at the light. If you have a hot spot that you want to cool in summer , plant something. I look out the window to see where I should put something. What do you see and what would you like to see? You could get some top soil delivered and placed on a tarp. After you get a few things in and add soil building compost and till and rake rocks and improve a bit at a time. Load up on a bunch of books. Visit a nursery and look and take notes. Investigate what does well in your area. Make a little bulb garden in the fall and next spring it will give you great joy. Do you want a lawn anywhere? Do you have kids that need a play area? How about a deck or a patio? Take your time and talk to neighbors who are gardeners. Most of all have fun.

  • 5 years ago

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  • 5 years ago

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It would be best to get two or three estimates from landscapers and let them put in your first lawn. If at all possible, have them put in an automatic lawn sprinkler system.

    If you have the money, let them put in flower gardens and shrubs for you too.

    Be sure to ask them how to take care of all these items.

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