Advanced search

havy clay soil

(9 Posts)
babySophieRose Tue 28-May-13 11:38:48

We have a horrible clay soil in our garden. We managed to make the south facing beds workable as we replaced about 50% of the soil. My question is, does anyone know what we could plant in the north facing beds, as they are in the shade, quite large, we don't want to dig out the soil as it is too much work. There are already a few shrubs planted which are very slow to grow and we had tried to plant some colourful plants between them, but nothing comes out or they all disappear. All suggestions are gratefully appreciated.

quoteunquote Tue 28-May-13 12:40:39

Dig in (or membrane and let the worms work) lots of well rotted manure and plant lots of roses, climbing , rambling, they will love it. go on the David Austin roses for inspiration

or make raised beds add spent mushroom compost(cheap)and well rotted manure , and let the worms do the mixing.

you might not believe it, but clay is excellent once you have it under control, you will be able to grow amazing veg and fruit, as it is so rich in minerals, you just need to break it down, by adding things,

this ^^ has it all, checkout Rosemoor for inspiration It's all on solid clay and very high rainfall.

I'm gardening on solid clay, use to curse it, but now love it.

secretscwirrels Tue 28-May-13 12:59:01

I have very heavy clay soil. Dig down a little and you could make pots with the clay.
Although it's hard to dig and you never get that crumbly texture I have had no trouble growing anything at all. It retains moisture in dry weather so less watering but you need it to be wet to weed as it's hard to dig when dry. You also have to try not to walk on beds you dug as this will compact the soil.

babySophieRose Tue 28-May-13 15:07:37

Thank you. Quoteunquote, i will have to look at all the links, they look very useful. It looks like we are up for more digging, but if this is the only way we'll do it. We have used the stuff which is supposed to break-up the clay for two years now, but no improvement. Sand and manure sounds good, we haven't thought of it.

DewDr0p Tue 28-May-13 15:26:23

we improved our clay soil with loads of composted bark and compost.

Hostas, pieris, lily of the valley, astilbe, dicentra, solomon's seal, ferns, hellebores, holly bush, ivy, dogwood, euonymus, camellia, foxgloves, skimmia, mahonia should all be good in shade.

JedwardScissorhands Tue 28-May-13 17:52:28

Can I hijack? We also have very heavy clay soil that you could make pots with.

If I add sand and manure, can I really just stick a membrane over the top? How long would this take? What sort of membrane would be best; just plastic sheeting? Also, our lawn is awful and I was going to dig it up, improve the soil and relay. Would sand and manure with a membrane work for this too?

I need to improve an area to use as a veg patch (need the ground to be workable) but like secretscwirrels have found that some things will grow on it as is and we never need to water. It's great for large evergreen bushy shrubs that you just plant and leave.

quoteunquote Tue 28-May-13 19:41:18

plastic sheeting will not work, it needs to breath,

for a veg patch if you can raise the level by creating a bed it will work far better, and makes for much easier effort free gardening,

I obsessively make compost, compost is the key to it all, stop everyone walking where you want to plant/improve, use scaffolding planks to work from, compacting the ground really doesn't help,

mark out your bed (never wider than you can reach the middle from leaning in from the size),

if you put in sides(wood) once you have dug it over once, that is the last digging you will ever have to do, dig over,

add all the leaf mulch(your children should be making bags of this for you every autumn, fill black bin liners with leaves, leave behind shed, for a few years, by year three, you will have a continuos supply which you just dump on the beds.

and or well rotted compost you have, and or well rotted manure.(very cheap from anywhere with horses,

bung in a couple of handfuls of worms, children are good at being sent out to collect them, or order from

if you put a breathable membrane on top and weigh down with stones, so no light gets in, leave for a couple of months

Clay is the brilliant, but only if you get fibrous things into it to break it down,

I have three compost piles(small garden but I divided it into three), made out of hardwood pallets, turn them over often,

I make my compost (treat the process like cooking a favourite recipe), layer of household left overs(no meat), add a handful of compost worms(from yours or a friend's wormery), get your worms going once you have a huge amount everything speeds up,

layer of garden rubbish/weeds,
layer of ripped cardboard/newspaper/twigs.
add comfrey(grow this anywhere you have a gap, also use as a mulch as slugs hate it,) often.
repeat, thin layers until it reaches the top,
keep covered with non foam backed,carpet( works as a membrane) and helps to keep the compost warm,

leave and check often, if the grass snakes/slowworms move in you are getting it right, no cooked food (that goes in your wormery the only things that can't go in a wormery is citrus and onions)

when it has got going, turn into the compost area, just rotate occasionally, it ready when it is uniformed, and crumbles nicely, keep moist, but not too wet,

On some of my beds I keep membrane down and use a blow torch to make holes in lines plant plugs into hole, no weeds, less watering, effortless gardening really,

I have used the clay from my garden to make outside ovens, so i do understand how hard it is to see a how you can garden it,

Get into compost, get into worm rearing, and get some raised beds for fruit and veg,

I also add well rotted manure and clay from the garden broken up to my compost factory, if the compost looks too wet, add cardboard, twigs, old straw, if looks too dry add food waste, and foliage.

the best vegetables, fruit and roses are grown in clay rich soil, so if you have clay, in someways you have a head start.

the extra minerals will really pay off, you just have to get the compost in there.

If you have lawns, use a fork ram it in, fine sand into two holes, fine compost into two, repeat, repeat, repeat, do a few with no fillings,

if you do this you will start to see major improvements, as the worms move and mix under the grass, drainage will improve, children are very good at filling the holes.

JedwardScissorhands Wed 29-May-13 09:51:33

Thank you! That is very helpful. DCs are already looking forward to leaf duty!! DH off to buy sleepers to create raised bed.

Really pleased to learn that I can grow roses on my clay too!

Can I use carpet as my membrane on the area I am improving in the way suggested for conpost?

Also, do you think putting sand into holes in the lawn will be as effective as just digging the lawn up, improving the clay underneath with sand etc then returfing? My grass is truly awful. It is a waterlogged nightmare.

quoteunquote Wed 29-May-13 10:05:20

If you take the whole lot off create drainage, put in really good mix, flatten, then turf(or seed) you will have a better chance of creating something that is not a quagmire, make sure you look up creating a perfect lawn from scratch on clay, I sure the RHS, have something on it,

listen to gardeners question time,it all starts to sink in,

I use to curse the clay, but once you learn to make layer cakes of compost, it becomes a real bonus, I haven't done any digging for years, I just keep adding twice a year a layer of fine rich compost, and plant from the sides,

very basic irrigation system, and really all we do is sow and harvest.

veg out of a clay rich soil is much richer some how,

I have about twenty two different ramblers and climbers (every fence and hedge is covered), and quite few standards, my garden smells divine, I only grow heavily scented ones.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: