What can I do with a clay soil garden?

Asked By: Hosanna Zschutschke | Last Updated: 28th February, 2020
Category: home and garden landscaping
4.5/5 (86 Views . 39 Votes)
Clay soil can provide an excellent foundation for healthy plant growth. Compacted clay inhibits healthy growth for grass and other plants. Soil amendments such as organic matter and gypsum improve heavy clay and relieve compaction. Gypsum enhances your soil and delivers extra benefits to your garden.

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Regarding this, what should I mix with clay soil?

The most common substances to add to clay soil are builder's sand, gypsum, composted manure, compost or other coarse organic material. Builder's sand and gypsum allow for better water drainage and increased air pockets, as they force the particles in the clay apart.

Beside above, is clay soil good for plants? Clay soils are not always bad. They hold more water than sandy soils and are often high in nutrients plants need. But clay soils can become so waterlogged that they deprive plant roots of oxygen, or so dry that they become too hard to dig in.

Furthermore, can you turn clay into soil?

But with all the hard work, clay soil has its benefits. It has the capacity to hold on to nutrients that your plants need, and it also holds moisture better than other soil types. With some amendments, you can turn your sticky clay into humus-rich, fertile goodness that your plants will thank you for.

Is peat moss good for clay soil?

Peat moss can be a useful amendment in clay soils IF you plan on doing regular soil tests. Peat moss can help with drainage by providing stable organic matter in the soil. However, it also increases the amount of water and nutrients clay will hold, which can cause root rots and nutrient toxicities. Improves drainage.

24 Related Question Answers Found

Does adding sand to clay soil help?

Improving clay soils. Don't add sand - add organic material! The danger of adding sand—especially in small amounts—is that large sand particles mixed with tiny clay particles will result in a concrete-like mixture. It takes the addition of 50% of total soil volume to significantly change the texture of clay soils.

How often should I water my clay soil?

If you can't push a 6” screwdriver into your lawn, you're not watering enough. Watering 1"-1 ½ ” per week is a guideline. Different soil types need different amounts. Soil is rarely composed of one type, but rather a combination of clay and sand, which makes loam.

Does clay soil hold water?

The soil's ability to retain water is strongly related to particle size; water molecules hold more tightly to the fine particles of a clay soil than to coarser particles of a sandy soil, so clays generally retain more water. Conversely, sands provide easier passage or transmission of water through the profile.

How do you break down clay soil quickly?

Grit sand for breaking up and improving heavy clay soil. It's extra work but worth spreading a one or two inch layer of grit sand across the clay soil before spreading the organic matter and digging the whole lot in at the same time. This will help break up even heavy clay soil.

What color is clay soil?


Clay soils are yellow to red. Clay has very small particles that stick together. The particles attach easily to iron, manganese and other minerals. These minerals create the color in clay.

How do you break up clay in your garden?

For best results, break up and amend the soil at least two weeks before planting.
  1. Mark off the area where you will have your garden bed with flour.
  2. Break the soil up with a hoe 5 to 6 inches down into the ground.
  3. Spread the soil into an even layer and dig down another 5 to 6 inches in the soil with a hoe.

What do you mix with clay soil to improve drainage?

Add Organic Material
  1. I've found that garden compost is best, but soil conditioners such as seaweed, farmyard manure, or bagged manure products like Scott's Organic Dehydrated Manure can also improve the soil quality.
  2. Spread the soil conditioner across the surface, and use a garden fork to mix it in.

Is Epsom salt good for clay soil?

Clay soil may also need some secondary macronutrients, such as calcium (Ca), sulfur (S), and magnesium (Mg). These nutrients can be side dressed on your plants as needed. Just crush them up and sprinkle them around your plants. Epsom salts contains magnesium.

How do I loosen up clay soil?

Mixing sand into clay soils to loosen soil.
Adding sand creates the opposite of the desired effect. The soil can become like concrete. Add organic matter such as compost, peat moss or leaf mold when loosening the soil.

How do you soften hard clay soil?


Soften your hard soil by adding decomposed organic material, such as compost, which not only improves workability but increases fertility. Including gypsum, or calcium sulfate, in the mix will bind the organic matter to the soil particles and prevent the soil from crusting over or cracking once dry.

What plants help break up clay soil?

If you have the time and patience, grow a cover crop, such as clover, winter wheat, or buckwheat, in your garden area the year before you plan on planting. Tap-rooted cover crops, such as alfalfa and fava beans, are great at breaking up clay and pulling nutrients up to the top layers of soil from the subsoil.

How do you enrich clay soil for gardening?

Bark, sawdust, manure, leaf mold, compost and peat moss are among the organic amendments commonly used to improve clay soil. Two or three inches of organic materials should be spread and rototilled, forked or dug into the top six or seven inches of your garden beds.

What plants grow best in clay soil?

14 Plants That Thrive in Clay Soil
  • Iris. Iris species, including Japanese, Louisiana, bearded and more, tend to perform very well on heavy soil.
  • Miscanthus. Ornamental grasses do very well in clay.
  • Heuchera.
  • Baptisia.
  • Platycodon.
  • Hosta.
  • Aster.
  • Rudbeckia.

What is the best grass to grow in clay soil?

Among the cool-season grasses, tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea) is one of the best choices for clay soil. It has a substantial root system that helps it deal with dense soil, and its deep roots also help it tolerate heat and drought.

What grows in red clay soil?


Lettuce, chard, snap beans and other crops with shallow roots benefit from clay soil's ability to retain moisture, and broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage often grow better in clay soil than looser loams because their roots enjoy firm anchorage.

What is clay soil used for?

Because of these properties, clay is used for making pottery, both utilitarian and decorative, and construction products, such as bricks, wall and floor tiles. Different types of clay, when used with different minerals and firing conditions, are used to produce earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain.

How do I know if my soil is clay?

If the soil falls apart when you open your hand, then you have sandy soil and clay is not the issue. If the soil stays clumped together and then falls apart when you prod it, then your soil is in good condition. If the soil stays clumped and doesn't fall apart when prodded, then you have clay soil.