Horticulture Magazine

The Best Garden Riddle Sieves For Separating & Filtering Soil

an old metal garden sieve sat on a lawn

A garden riddle sieve can be very useful for sifting soil to remove stones and debris.

It can be extremely useful if you are making your own potting mix, or if you are sifting homemade compost to remove larger twigs and other pieces of matter that have not yet broken down.

A garden sieve can also sometimes be useful for other jobs around your garden, from washing gravel or a hydroponic or aquaponic medium, to washing home grown produce to remove the worst of the soil before you take it indoors. Smaller mesh sieves can also be used for separating seeds from chaff if you want to save your own seeds for culinary use, or to sow in your garden next year. 

Whatever you use your garden riddle sieve for, it is important to choose the right one. You can make your own easily and cheaply using a reclaimed wooden frame and some recycled fencing mesh. 

But you might not have the time for a DIY project. So here are five of the UK’s best garden riddle sieves to consider. We’ve selected these products for their quality and fitness for use.

Our #1 Top Pick
Spear and Jackson RIDDLE Steel Frame Garden...
Value Pick
Apollo Gardening 1/4-inch 6mm Metal Garden...
Also Consider...
Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve CRS400
Mesh Size
10mm
6mm
5mm
Diameter
330mm
370mm
400mm
Weight
690g
540g
5800g
Price
Price not available
£12.95
Price not available
Our #1 Top Pick
Spear and Jackson RIDDLE Steel Frame Garden...
Mesh Size
10mm
Diameter
330mm
Weight
690g
Price
Price not available
Value Pick
Apollo Gardening 1/4-inch 6mm Metal Garden...
Mesh Size
6mm
Diameter
370mm
Weight
540g
Price
£12.95
Also Consider...
Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve CRS400
Mesh Size
5mm
Diameter
400mm
Weight
5800g
Price
Price not available

Last update on 2021-04-22 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API

Here are five options we believe will serve you best in your garden:

Best Pick: Spear & Jackson Riddle

Sturdy Stainless Steel Riddle

Cost: Price not available

This sturdy stainless steel riddle is great for sifting soil or compost and removing larger stones or larger pieces of un-composted material. It is made from chrome plated steel for durability, so this should be a product that you can really put through its paces without fearing that it will not last or be up to the job. 

This was a winner of a British Growing Award in 2018. It is 330mm in diameter and has a grid of square holes across the base, each of which are a square centimetre in size. Unlike many of the much flimsier plastic products on the market, this one should be long-lasting enough to make up for its environmental impact. If you are using it to compost more effectively and reduce food waste, and are aiming to reduce the amount of food flown to you from abroad by growing your own, then this could be a good product to choose to help you in your sustainable efforts. 

Pros

  • Wide mesh to catch larger stones and pieces while letting the soil or compost through freely.
  • Sturdy and solid stainless steel construction way more durable than many other products on the market. 

Cons

  • Some sharp edges so wear gloves if you are sifting around inside it.
  • Will let through smaller stones, and will not be suitable for finer sifting or sorting projects. 

Value Pick: Apollo Gardening Sieve Mesh

Powder Coated Mesh Sieve Riddle

Cost: £12.95

The powder coating on the steel of this sieve means that it may also last a long time. And as a competitively priced option, you cannot really go too far wrong with this one. The mesh is 6mm in size, so will actually sift out smaller stones and debris than the option above. 

This product is suitable for creating a smooth soil or compost that can be used for anything you might want to use it for. Though it costs less than many other options on the market, it is more robust than many so should withstand any job you wish to put it to in your garden.

Pros

  • Steel is powder coated for durability.
  • Extremely competitive pricing for a robust product.
  • 6mm mesh suitable for finer work.

Cons

  • No handles, so may be more challenging for some to use.
  • Finer mesh creates finer soil/ compost, but it may take more work to get it through. 

Clarke Rotary Soil Sieve

Hand-Cranked Rotary Riddle

Cost: Price not available

If you have a lot of soil or compost to sift, then a smaller tray like one of those mentioned above may not be the easiest way to proceed. You could consider getting more serious with a 560 x 400 rotary soil sieve with a crank handle to turn to get the material through. The depth of the drum is 150mm. 

This particular option is of durable mild steel construction. It is a sturdy product weighing 5.8kg, that sits on four legs. If you have ever shaken a sieve like one of those above for any length of time you will have discovered how much hard work it soon becomes. But one of these may lessen the strain on your arms and back, since you just turn the handle rather than shaking the assemblage from side to side. You’ll need a bit more space to store this, but it is so quick and easy to use that you will surely not begrudge that. 

The mesh on this product has holes with diamonds of between 4mm and 1cm in size, so if you want to sift soil or compost more finely, you will need a mesh with smaller holes. But this is suitable for many garden jobs. 

Pros

  • Turning handle for ease of use – avoids the need to shake a sieve tray.
  • Sturdy and can withstand a lot of heavy use.

Cons

  • Larger mesh, so a smaller holed sieve will be required for finer jobs.
  • Heavy to move around and more space required for storage than other options. 

Siebmaster 5-In-1 Garden Sieve

Versatile Sieve With Interchangeable Strainer Inserts

Cost: £29.22

If you want a product that will handle a wide range of garden projects then this option is hard to beat. With this garden riddle sieve, you won’t just get one size of mesh. You will get one that comes with five different interchangeable strainer inserts. 

Durable and space-saving, this product equips you for all the different jobs you might want to do with a garden riddle sieve. There are inserts with mesh widths of 3mm, 5mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm. So if you have to sift soil or compost that contains not just pebbles or gravel, but also things like the roots of ground elder and other weeds, this could be a good option to consider.

This sieve is 30cm in diameter, and 7.5cm in height. So you cannot sieve a lot of soil at once. But it is light (just 313g when used with a sieve insert) and so is easy to use. And it will not take up a lot of room in your garden shed or another storage area. 

Pros

  • Lightweight yet sturdy enough for many garden jobs.
  • A useful and versatile product with 5 different mesh sizes included. 

Cons

  • Rather shallow sieve allows only small quantities of soil or compost to be sieved at one time.

Greenkey Traditional Wooden Mesh

Traditional Wooden Garden Riddle

Cost: Price not available

If you are looking for a traditional garden riddle then one with wooden edging frame might be right up your street. Of course, the wood makes this a more eco-friendly product, and while it may not last as long as some of the options mentioned above, the wood can be treated to prolong its life with linseed oil and wax. 

The wood feels warmer on the hands when used in less than ideal weather conditions. It is lightweight and easy to handle. There are good reasons why wooden riddles have been used by gardeners for generations. 

This particular riddle has an internal diameter of 40cm, and a galvanised metal mesh with 7mm spacing. The mesh size is practical for a number of different soil and compost sifting jobs. 

Pros

  • Wooden frame for a traditional garden look and feel.
  • Galvanised mesh with spacing that practical for a range of garden jobs. 

Cons

  • Wood should probably be treated to prolong its life.
  • Not quite as durable or sturdy for bigger projects as some other items on this list. 

Choosing the Right Garden Sieve

Getting it right when it comes to sieving begins with thinking about which garden sieve is right for you. 

The first thing to consider when trying to decide which is the right garden sieve for you is exactly what you want to use it for. The purpose will determine how fine you need the mesh to be, and how large a sieve you need for the project. 

First of all, think about whether you will be sieving soil or compost. 

If you will be sieving soil, it is important to consider the properties and type of soil that you are dealing with in your garden. If you have a light and friable soil, with little stones or roots in it that you wish to remove, a finer mesh will likely work well. If, however, you have a loamy or clay soil that forms some clumps and is not as fine, a larger mesh could make the job easier and will usually be good enough to get rid of the stones or other debris you wish to remove. The more claggy your soil, the more challenging the sieving process will be. 

Most often, however, in a no dig garden, where we want to disturb the existing soil as little as possible, we will be sieving compost. Sieving your own homemade compost is a great idea as it will save you money, and allow you to create a compost for potting, containers, or soil amendment that is comparable to (if not better than) that which you can buy. 

You can make the sieving job a lot easier by making sure that you choose the right composting method, and by following some basic rules of composting. For example, think about whether you will have a cold composting or hot composting system. Will you use worms? Consider oxygen, water, temperatures, and content. Balance brown (carbon rich) and green (nitrogen rich) materials. Avoid placing anything in your heap that is not biodegradable, or which will take too long to break down. 

Garden Sieve Use Tips

Here are a few tips to make using a garden sieve a little easier:

  • Don’t try to sieve soil or compost that is too wet or damp. It will tend to clump together and will be far more difficult to separate and sift out the impurities and larger pieces that you do not want.
  • Make sure you do not try to sieve too much at one time. Do not overfill the garden riddle you have chosen. It is generally easier to do more, smaller loads. 
  • Empty the debris/ stones from your sieve regularly.
  • Sieve into a suitable container or wheelbarrow, so you don’t have to move the material a second time. 
  • Make sure you are in a comfortable position for sieving, to avoid putting too much strain on your body as you carry out the work. 

When you choose the right garden sieve for your needs, and use it correctly, it can be a very useful garden tool. Using one can also be a great workout – so do not underestimate the work. Instead, embrace the challenge as you take further steps towards successfully growing your own and creating a beautiful and productive garden.

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