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how to make topsoil?

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by "Ground Control", Jan 7, 2008.

  1. Travel'n Trees

    Travel'n Trees LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 631

    buy a pulverizor, and pulverize it. Compost and stuff can be added, but for settling it is not desired.
  2. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    This might be helpful:

    I used this stuff in Idaho while working for a landscape company. It did use solids from sewer systems and it had a smell that indicated that in my opinion. It was an effective compost, though and was used to supplement poorer soils.

    We switched to using diffeent compost that was being produced by Washington State University. Perhaps U of Montana or MSU is producing compost as well. I don't believe that they used sewage solids in the WSU compost. It was started to try to use the wate from landscape maintenance and the agriculture barns on the campus.
  3. sbvfd592

    sbvfd592 LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 668

    topsoil is hard to make. if it is made wrong it comes to bite you in the butt. someone buys 50 yrds to make a new front lawn and the soil is to acidic and nothing grows ex for some weeds it will hurt.
  4. ICT Bill

    ICT Bill LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,115

    For the best information about composting look at the US composting council
    Believe it or not composting is quite an art, well at least doing it right and coming up with a great finished product
    There is a group called the soil food web www.soilfoodweb.com that tests and consults on composting

    Non composted bio solids are a huge problem waiting to happen I would steer clear of this idea, can you imagine all the "stuff" that is in there, unless you are willing to go through the EPA and local licensing, you could get fined up the whazoo. Too many health issues to even start mentioning. What do you flush down your toilet? Yuck!

    Tub grinders work great but are expensive
  5. Drew Gemma

    Drew Gemma LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,511

    u guys are missing the original post making topsoil! Here they use sand, filed grade topsoil composted leaves and human waste that is dry, cleaned sanitized it is basically a gritty black sand. Look at a treatment facility the long cememt pools dry heat up and are treated totally safe and different than composting it yourself which is illegal he wanted to make top soil mix and sell composting is totally different permits lic and regulations here dept of ag and epa do regular visits:dizzy:
  6. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    No one is telling him that he needs to start a sewage recycling plant. The guy is having a hard time sourcing topsoil and people are trying to give him sources or material to supplement whatever quality soil he can get.

    Here they bury brush, branches, and stups for five years and then dig it and screen it. That takes a steadty supply of material, a lot of land, permits and time. This guy sounds like he just wants enough to supply his garden center customers. I don't think it is practical to do anything on a large scale in a rural area.
  7. AAXteriors

    AAXteriors LawnSite Member
    Posts: 158

    Dont they sell this "Sanitized" black sand as fertilizer? I think i saw it at homo depot. I was always curious about this stuff.

  8. AGLA

    AGLA LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,742

    They have been selling processed sewage for several decades. Milwaukee, WI has been putting out a product called Milorganite as far back as I can remember.

    One of the problems that there is with sewage is that there are lots of heavy metals and other things in it. Once they figured that out, they took steps to eliminate it from the product.
  9. teejet

    teejet LawnSite Member
    from Indiana
    Posts: 233

    why fool with making it. Find a large excavating company. I get mine from a company that just put in an airport landing strip. They sell the dirt for 80 a tri axle delivered. My gravel supply place sells it for 15 per ton, they call it processed topsoil it doesn't have any clumps, but it is real crappy I think it comes from 40 foot under ground not the same as the top 12 inch dirt from the airport field.
  10. topsites

    topsites LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 21,653

    A lot of the stuff like sand is just filler, it actually degrades the quality of the dirt but is often used when having to make large quantities, such as for re-sale and on large scales and what have you.

    But you want it for yourself, for a small business, and you want a potting soil.

    So, you want petrol-black humus then use just leaves.
    Sticks and small branches fine, but don't get into nothing bigger it just gets in the way and takes longer, really pure leaves.
    It turns into a very rich, super low ph soil, black as black gets, excellent for most potting applications.
    Use lime to balance the ph to your liking, also makes the leaves decompose about 2x as fast.
    On average it takes a year for a pile to decompose, you have to turn it, then at the end get the leaves that are left off the top.
    It's a big pile at first, probably like 20 trailer loads give you 100 cubic yards, but once they decompose it won't be but 10% the size, if that, it really melts way down over time.
    Then for supply, I guarantee in fall if you either haul them yourself for customers or you simply offer a local Lco a cheap place to dump theirs you will never have a shortage.
    And in a year or so you have yourself black dirt, potting soil.

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