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Frequently Asked Questions
Why Can't I Make My Own Soil Sifter?
You can! Many people have over the years. You just go to the lumber yard, buy some lumber and some "hardware cloth" (screen material, in other words) plus screws and nails and staples, buy a table saw, hammer, power screwdriver, power stapler, etc. and build one yourself. We'll even show you how. But how much is your time worth? If you're handy with tools and like a challenge, go for it! Otherwise, our Soil Sifter is sturdy, tested, and relatively inexpensive compared to the hours you'd spend making one (assuming you got it right the first time, which I didn't). It's also cheaper than professional equipment used by landscapers. The largest single expense is the box and shipping. Which brings us to the next question...
Can I Buy The Soil Sifter in a Store?
We've never found anything similar in any local or chain store (including Home Depot and English Gardens, for example). But we're contacting them and asking them to carry it. This takes time, of course. If you'd like to help, stop by your local hardware stores and lawn & garden centers and ask them why they don't carry The Soil Sifter! Give them our Web site URL: http://www.thesoilsifter.com. Maybe we can start something! In the meantime, you can order by using PayPal or money orders. If you live in Southeastern Michigan, you can arrange to pick it up in person and avoid the shipping costs.
What Color is The Soil Sifter?
In order to keep costs down and save time, The Soil Sifter is delivered unfinished, unpainted, and with the tops of fasteners visible. We no longer offer painting or varnishing, since we don't have the facilities to do it economically. You can always paint it yourself. (It's just going to get dirty, anyway!) But be sure to keep it clean and don't leave it out in the rain or snow.
What If I Want a Different Screen?
The standard Soil Sifter uses a 1/4" screen, which we have found is excellent for most purposes. However, if you'd like one with a larger 1/2" screen, for easier sifting, or a 1/8" screen, for finer sifted material, please let us know and we can build one for you, for an additional cost of $5 (because it's custom work and because we only buy the 1/4" screen in quantity). Use the drop-down box below each model to choose which screen you want. But please be advised that the 1/4" screen is definitely the best for sifting garden soil.
Do You Sell One With Moving Parts?
I've seen some designs that involved moving parts, where the top moves back and forth and forces dirt through the screen. Two observations: First, you don't really want to push small stones and twigs through the screen, which will happen if you're using one of those box-and-roller contraptions or something that works automatically. Secondly, it doesn't take that much effort to simply put on a pair of garden gloves and use your hands to gently mix the soil around until only the stones and twigs are left. (Not to mention the occasional bottle cap or screw or other metal object that could damage a moving screen.) It also gives you a chance to take out the larger rocks, stones or lava rocks by hand and separate them for landscaping use. You can also use a large brush if you prefer. IMPORTANT: The Soil Sifters are pretty sturdy, but will not hold up if you use a shovel, rake or other implement to mix the soil. Use your hands or a brush only.
How Fast Will My Soil Sifter Arrive?
This depends on where you are located. (We are in Michigan.) We ship by standard Federal Express Home Delivery, unless you want to pay extra for faster shipping. Also keep in mind that at this time all Soil Sifters are being made to order, so they can't simply be shipped from stock on the same day we get the order. But I am moving as quickly as I can. My eventual goal is to have them in stock and ready to go out within a day or two, but for the time being it can take anywhere from a day to a week to build yours, unless you tell me you're in a rush.
What If I Don't Have a Wheelbarrow?
Not a problem. You can place the soil sifter on top of any container (though it's specially sized for a standard wheelbarrow), a tarp, or even over the spot where you want to use it. The brackets which are designed to hold it in place on a wheelbarrow (and which are shipped unattached to avoid damage to the packaging) will hold it a little off the ground (as long as the ground isn't too soft), so you can sift a few shovelsfull at a time. You can prop it up on bricks or wood blocks if you like. Or you can order one of our other models (see the home page), so far designed for two other types of carts, a 5-gallon pail, a Roughneck bin, etc. Email us if you have any other ideas or suggestions. As long as I have the correct dimensions, I can make one for you in almost any size. In fact, that's how many of our newer models came about.
Why Shouldn't I Just Buy Topsoil?
You can (and I have), but topsoil costs money, and making your own is free. Topsoil or potting soil that you buy in bags is almost always fill of twigs and other debris, and may need to be filtered anyway. A load of topsoil can bring with it invasive weed species that might be very difficult to eradicate once on your property. When you sift your own soil, there's no lugging heavy bags around, either (unless you fill your own). And you still have to figure out what to do about the soil you already have, if it's rocky or full of roots and other debris, or mostly clay, which can be more easily broken down and mixed with topsoil using the Soil Sifter. And don't forget that you can use The Soil Sifter to filter your compost, whether you compost regularly or just have a pile of decaying leaves behind the garage! It's also a great way to mix in soil amendments such as peat moss and manure, which you can purchase in smaller quantities.
Do you have any testimonials?
Sure. Read a few testimonials from satisfied customers.
The One For The Wheelbarrow Is Too Big. Do You Have Smaller Ones?
Yes, we do! There are currently more than two dozen other models as this is being written, but we're adding more every time somebody has a new idea. Go back to our main order page and scroll down for photos and descriptions of the other versions, ranging from a tiny 6" x 6" model for kids to a couple of "mini" versions to specially designed Soil Sifters for bins, barrels and other carts. If we don't have what you want, we'll try to make one for you.
Okay, When Can I Buy It? And How Much Does It Cost?
You can buy it now, at a price of $39.95 US, plus shipping and handling (continental U.S. only). Or you can order one of our other models as described on the main order page. We will also send to Hawaii and Alaska, or to other countries, at additional cost. Extra shipping and handling for such a bulky item can be very expensive if you do not live in the continental United States. If you live somewhere else, email us FIRST for more information, giving your exact location. We reserve the right to refuse shipment to any location outside the United States, due to cost factors and paperwork issues. Otherwise you may order now, using PayPal. Please return to the main page.
Some Helpful Gardening Sites
National Gardening Association
A nonprofit leader in plant-based education, serving a national audience with timely materials designed to foster an appreciation for the benefits of gardening. Lot of great information here!
My Ideal Garden: Landscape Design and Home Garden Ideas
Created by professional designers, My Ideal Garden is your online guide to pictures and advice that will help turn your landscape design idea or flower garden plan into reality.
A favorite site for gardeners around the world, articles and videos show you how to start seeds and learn how to make a garden. Members can chat with other gardeners in forums, and learn how to identify plants, pests, birds and butterflies.