If you are adding nutrients to the soil, either by mulching or digging in organic matter than clay soil will hold onto these nutrients and produce healthier plants. Another method is pinching a piece of soil between your fingers. Injecting air pockets into clay soil is essential for improving drainage, breaking up … On the other hand during wetter weather you are much more likely to have standing water and the ground is going to be waterlogged for longer periods. It is best to work with the soil you have than physically trying to change the texture. In the first season or two after adding organic material to the soil, you will want to take care when watering. Depending on where you live it can be a real advantage that you don’t have to irrigate your lawn as much especially during drought if there is a hosepipe ban. You want to reduce the compaction around the root ball by digging a wider hole and breaking up that dense soil. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. The particles in clay soils have the ability to hold or absorb potassium, calcium, magnesium and other nutrients that are required for good plant health. Similarly, score the sides and bottom of the hole to help loosen the soil. Want to know how to improve clay soil and what is the best clay soil treatment in the garden? Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It allows you to thoroughly soak a targeted area while leaving the majority of the surface area dry and able to absorb some oxygen. … Clay soils are hard to dig, but retain moisture better than sandy soil. Clay soil holds moisture well enough, so you will be a little easier to maintain it. Digging organic matter into clay soil is the first step and the effort is worth it. The Number 1 Thing To Do To Improve Clay Soil = Incorporating Organic Matter. Fortunately you are really not going to be digging over the soil every year, so after the initial hard work you should be fine. Like many legume species, cowpeas (southern peas) have vigorous, dense, fibrous roots that break up clay soil. The side of the bag... 3. Blanket Flower (gaillardia x grandiflora) The blanket flower is a native (cultivar) perennial that … Many gardeners, upon hearing clay soil, groan with sudden visions of back-breaking labour and nothing but problems. It is worth try most plants in your garden regardless of whether you have clay soil or not. If you amend the soil – in other words, fill the hole back in with mostly loose garden soil, topsoil, or compost – what you end up doing is creating a bowl, with the loose amended soil in the middle and the dense clay soil on the outer edge. Clay soils are dense, which can make it difficult for the roots to push through. No matter what kind of soil you have there will be plants and things you can do that will create a stunning garden. Plants That Thrive in Clay Soil Organic matter can be any of the following: Basically anything that was once living and will decay, leaving behind nutrition and an open structure. For a further list, check out this article from the University of Maine. How do you know if you have clay soil? Clay soil will hold water better so if you live in an area that doesn’t get lots of rain clay soil will make it a lot easier to grow grass. A Place To Discover Your Inner Green Thumb, SPRING VS FALL – THE BEST TIME TO PLANT YOUR TREE, 5 COLOURFUL FALL FLOWERS FOR AN EASY CARE AUTUMN GARDEN, HOW TO GARDEN: BASICS FOR THE BEGINNER GARDENER, 11 HANDY TOOLS & SUPPLIES FOR EASY HOUSEPLANT CARE. There are a number of ways to improve it to make working with clay soil easier so let’s take a look at how best to garden with clay soil. As nitrogen fixers, they enrich and enliven the soil. They grow quickly to suppress weeds, and the flowers attract beneficial insects. That is not to say that clay soil is bad. You want to reduce the compaction around the root ball by digging a wider hole and breaking up that dense soil. Your email address will not be published. Digging in organic matter will prevent water logging because the clay particles will be less tightly packed. Over time your soil will greatly improve. Your best bet is it to break up the soil you removed and backfill the hole with this soil. Add the suggested amendments to your soil. Hi! But clay soils are actually rich in nutrients and they’re able to retain plenty of moisture, both of which can benefit a young tree. Some of the best cover crops for clay soil are clover, winter wheat and buckwheat. And if you enjoyed this article on how to plant a tree in clay soil, feel free to share it! Digging or tilling clay soil is going to be harder than any other type of soil. Crops like alfalfa and fava beans have a deep tap root so they tend to pull nutrients into the topsoil and at the same time help with compaction. Your email address will not be published. Soil that consists of over 50 percent clay particles is referred to as heavy clay. of the chosen soil amendment on the soil and work it gently down into the soil about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.). It is often suggested to add grit or sand to clay soil and indeed it can help but the amount you would need to have any sort of impact on the soil structure is far too much. ​ Clay is natural material found in every part of the world. To state the obvious: it’s not easy to grow in clay soil. If you can do this relatively easily without it cracking or crumbling then it is likely to be clay soil. Drip irrigation is best for clay soils. Tilling at the wrong time can actually make the soil more compacted and bad for your plant’s roots. Amending an area to make suitable for gardening other types of vegetation is doable. In clay-ish soil, with medium to low clay concentration plants with shallow root will grow just fine. How to plant in clay soil; well, that takes patience and work. For sun or partial shade: Ivy, Clematis, Honeysuckle. Shallow root plants, like Lettuce, Leafy greens and Chard are capable of growing in unimproved clay soil. Those amendments are normally found in fertilizer. Although you want to score and loosen the soil, you don’t want to amend it, especially along the bottom. Clay soil has a tendency to form great clods, it is heavy as it holds more water and during dry weather can become baked solid. It also has nasty tendency to crack when exposed to long periods without water. Watering hydrangeas in clay soil. To do so, add copious amounts of composted leaf mold/ manure. My aim is to provide my readers with easy tips and tricks on plant care, fun facts, and encouragement for the new plant owner or anyone questioning the colour of their thumb! It will also open the texture allowing roots to move freely throughout the soil and getting a firmer hold. Plants that prefer freely draining soil and don’t like too have wet roots will benefit by adding grit or sand when they are planted. Ensure you lay plenty of compost on top of your soil when it's time to plant - no need to mix it in, especially if you're adding a layer of mulch next. They grow slow but strong and I would also add have access to good minerals from the clay that will not be in some soils. Drought is much less damaging on clay soils than others soil types. These bulbs are hardy enough to survive clay soils but they can rot in very wet conditions: Narcissi, Snowdrops There will almost certainly be plants that will thrive in conditions such as these. When I lived on the farm, we had clay soil and with every planting I would take my shovel and make numerous jabs at the bottom and sides of the hole, so the growing roots had plenty of spaces to seek out. Steps 1. Please leave a comment below. First, you’ll want to dig a wider hole around the root ball – at least 2 to 3 times the size. It’s dense, does not drain well—unless it’s on a slope, and then everything runs off. Birch, crabapple, hawthorn are good choices. I have seen trees planted at the same time as my trees in one year look like a 2-3 year old tree. Clay soil is nutrient-rich, but tends to be slow to drain, poorly aerated, easily compacted and extremely hard if it lacks good aggregate structure. If you can do this relatively easily without it cracking or crumbling then it is likely to be clay soil. Tilling Clay Soil. Clay soil can be a good thing many plants grow well in it. This benefits gardeners throughout the summer or in drought prone areas as less watering is required. How do you build the aggregate structure? In the first year after planting, you need to be careful and timely water the hydrangea. There are benefits and disadvantages to any type of soil. I started this site to share my love for plants and gardening. Surface tension and chemical factors binds water to these particles meaning that clay will hold more water than other types of soil. If it’s going to need support due to wind or a bendable trunk, think about staking it to offer support. If you have noticed that water tends to puddle on the ground rather than soak in, it is likely your ground consists of clay. Similarly, score the sides and bottom of the hole to help loosen the soil. Sow in the spring as a summer cover crop. Tree photo created by bearfotos – www.freepik.com, SNAKE PLANT CARE: AN EASY HOW-TO GUIDE FOR YOUR SANSEVERIA, 7 LARGE PET SAFE HOUSEPLANTS TO BRIGHTEN UP YOUR HOME, SEVEN EASY CARE HOUSEPLANTS FOR BEGINNERS AND BROWN THUMBS, SEVEN EASY CARE OUTDOOR PLANTS FOR BEGINNERS AND BROWN THUMBS, WHY PLANTS: Reasons To Explore Our Green Friends. Clay soil is usually quite fertile and has the ability to be very fertile if treated correctly. Your email address will not be published. Clay soil can be particularly tricky at certain times of the year and if you have ever dug clay soil you will definitely feel it. The peculiarity of clay is that in the absence of rain, the top layer of soil … Knowing the kind of soil you are working with, whether it be clay, sandy, chalky or loam in your garden can have a big impact on the success of your planting. By far the best thing to do to improve clay soil is to incorporate organic matter. Check with your local extension office (listed under government in the phone book) for a soil... 2. It really is a case of working out how best to deal with the conditions that present themselves. However, clay can be a more challenging soil to work with, so learning how to plant a tree in clay soil is worth knowing. Keep adding to your garden soil. This, combined with a compost topdressing and mulch, should help alleviate some of the common problems with clay soil. When you plant tomatoes in a top layer of soft dirt with a layer of hardened soil beneath, it can also prevent the roots from growing deep enough so the plant can draw nutrients into its leaves and stems. Before backfilling, stand back and make sure your tree is standing straight. Planting in clay soil is great for the vegetation that have roots strong enough to break through the hardened ground and compacted clay. When clay soil gets waterlogged like that it keeps plant roots from being able to get oxygen, which can kill your tomatoes. Its weight makes planting an exhausting task, … You can ‘correct’ a clay soil. It can be impossible to dig, and, without some amendments, may not allow us to plant… In overly wet or dry conditions or freezing conditions you are best off waiting until the weather improves before attempting to dig over the soil. Rather than digging in sand or grit across a whole border it is much easier to add the grit when putting in plants that would benefit from it. There are no instant fixes and improving clay soil will take a number of years before you really start noticing the difference. Start small. Get your soil tested. Clay soil easily compacts, as we have said. Adding a layer of mulch will prevent clay soil from baking at the surface forming a hard crust and it also has the added benefit of nourishing the soil and prevents weed growth. Some great plants for clay soil in full sun or light partial shade are: Astilbe, Astrantia, Kniphofia, Solidago, Don’t forget climbers too. Clay soil is not a problem at all. Over the course of a year or so this breaks down and gets worked into the soil by the weather, worms and so on. My first garden: clay on clay on clay! In my last post, we talked about tree planting in the fall vs the spring. Lastly, consider using a root booster fertilizer after it’s planted. To determine … My name is Angela Carr. Required fields are marked *. Pick up a piece of damp soil and work it between your hands, form it into a ball and then roll it into a sausage shape. There are a number of things you can do to improve the soil and these relate to nutrition and structure. To give you the greatest success, choose a tree that will do well in clay soil. Digging in organic matter will open the structure of the soil allowing water to drain through quicker as well as adding nutrition that fertilise any plant that you add. After this you will not want to dig over the soil every year but mulching will to all intents and purposes achieve the same thing. It is very water containing, sticky and gooey when watered and harsh, hard and lumpy when dried. Any questions or thoughts? If you do opt to do a cover … This directly benefits the plant and require only a small amount of extra outlay or work compared to adding grit to an entire border. Because clay soil can become compacted easily, place about 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10 cm.) The easiest way to identify clay soil are the following methods: Pick up a piece of damp soil and work it between your hands, form it into a ball and then roll it into a sausage shape. No matter what soil type you have mulching at the beginning of spring is always worthwhile. Blueberries grow best in sandy, acidic soils with a pH from 4.0 to 5.0. Clay soil is defined as soil that comprised of very fine mineral particles and not much organic material. Avoiding compacting the soil by walking over it is another thing to pay attention too. The products I use - https://kit.com/HortTubeThis video is a detailed description of planting in clay or poorly draining soils. So growing in clay takes a little more time than in good soft soil that allows fast root growth. Tilling clay soil needs to be done with care. Aerate Clay Soil. The problem here, is water will soak through that loose, amended soil, then hit the clay barrier, where it will sit and pool, potentially leaving your tree’s roots to drown. Of course, there are varying degrees of clay from grittier clay to really heavy clay soil. Check the soil moisture regularly. Your email address will not be published. The worst part of clay soil is digging in it. If you are still unsure, you may want to consider taking a sample of you soil to a friendly nursery for help identifying the makeup if your soil. If you cannot feel many particles or grittiness then there is probably a high amount of clay in the soil. Never try to till clay soil when it is wet. This ability to absorb nutrients is not nearly as good in sandy soils for example. Plants that like sandy, arid and dry conditions are likely to struggle but you can always use containers for these types of plants and even place them throughout the borders. In fact, if you manage the soil properly you will likely see plants flourishing more than in other soil types. Overcoming the Difficulties of Planting in Clay Soil Bring in a new layer of topsoil if your plants are … It consists of small particles of minerals with traces of several metal components. Trees, shrubs (especially roses), climbers and many bulbs are easier to grow on clay soils than plants that require frequent sowing, planting or dividing; annuals or bedding plants, for example Planting woody plants on slight (25cm/10in) mounds can help avoid root damage from waterlogging Mulching involves adding organic matter to the soil surface in a layer a couple of inches thick. Today, let’s dive into soil; specifically, how to plant a tree in clay soil. Planting with this in mind means that if you know an area is liable to flood or get bogged down for a period then plant choice needs to be varieties that will cope with this. In fact clay is one of the most fertile soils. Although this type of soil is ideal for trees, bushes, and roses, it is very inhospitable toward other species of plants. Another method is pinching a piece of soil between your fingers. Clay is rich in nutrients plants need to grow, holding calcium, potassium, and magnesium. It’s okay to mix in a little compost or good topsoil but keep it to about 5%. Arkansas Blue Star (Amsonia hubrichtii) The delicate, willow-like leaves of Arkansas blue star make … What to grow in Clay soil Most plants will not tolerate very heavy clay soil, that is if you do not put in any work to improve the soil. Once you have dug over the soil you are best off mulching every year and allowing the worms to till the soil this will keep the texture open and mean you don’t have to go to the effort of working the soil yourself. Clay soils are dense, which can make it difficult for the roots to push through. The resulting soil is quite sticky since there is not much space between the mineral particles, and it does not drain well at all. Required fields are marked *. During certain times of the year in fact heavy soil will be back breaking to dig. Clay soil has many more particles per square inch than other types of soil. Clay soil naturally benefits from no-till or low till techniques. 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