How to Make a Top Soil Screen

Written by deborah stephenson
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If your garden soil is stony, seeds may have trouble emerging through it. You will want to screen the soil before using it for planting beds. This screen is lightweight and portable, folds flat to save space in storage and is large enough to screen a lot of soil at once. It makes use of 2-by-2-inch lumber (actual size 1 1/2-by-1 1/2 inches) and hardware cloth in whatever mesh size you prefer for your soil type.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • 2 8-foot 2-by-2 inch boards, cut into 6 32-inch pieces
  • 4 corner angle plates, 3-inch
  • 16 screws, 3/4-inch
  • Drill
  • 5/16 drill bit
  • 2 Carriage bolts: 1/4-inch diameter shaft, 3 1/2 inches long
  • 4 Washers
  • 2 Wing nuts (sized to match bolts)
  • Hardware cloth, 32-by-35-inch piece. Mesh size optional (1/8-inch mesh for fine soil; 1/4-inch mesh for average soil; 1/2-inch mesh for coarse soil)
  • Staple gun
  • 1/2-inch staples

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  1. 1

    Lay four 32-inch-long, 2-by-2-inch boards together (top and bottom boards inside the side boards) for a rectangle that measures 32 inches high by 35 inches wide.

  2. 2

    Put one corner angle plate over each corner, and screw them in place.

  3. 3

    Measure 2 inches down from the top centre of each of the side boards and mark that spot. Drill a hole all the way through each board at that point.

  4. 4

    Measure 2 inches down from the top centre of each of the leftover boards (the legs), and mark. Drill a hole all the way through each board at that point.

  5. 5

    Put a washer on each carriage bolt and slide the bolts in from inside the frame, through the holes in the frame sides and through the hole in each of the additional boards (one per side).

  6. 6

    Place a washer and wing nut on the opposite (outside) end of each carriage bolt. You will have a rectangle with two attached legs.

  7. 7

    Lay the piece of hardware cloth of your desired mesh over the front of the frame, and staple it in place.

  8. 8

    Prop the frame with the bottom on the ground and the top sitting up on the legs at an angle. Tighten the wing nuts. Sift soil by tossing it against the screen, moving the screen as soil accumulates behind it.

  9. 9

    Loosen the wing nuts and fold the legs to store your screen flat.

Tips and warnings

  • For longer life and protection from damp soil, paint all wood parts before assembly with a good, outdoor quality paint.
  • Make several screens with different mesh sizes to screen soil for a variety of applications.
  • Use the screen directly on top of a wheelbarrow to save shovelling twice before transporting.
  • For a heavier-duty sifter, use 2-by-4 inch lumber, and nail or screw the framework together instead of using corner angle brackets.

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