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How to break though clay soil?

(7 Posts)
RedBlu Fri 25-Mar-16 07:28:07

We moved into our new build house just over a year ago and have done quite a bit to the what was a very plain garden. We have build a large decking area and have a border that runs the length of the garden but we are now buying the larger plants/tree for impact.

This is where we have an issue, once I dig a few feet down, I am hitting a layer of clay.

I have a 7ft monkey puzzle tree that I want to plant, however the hole I have dug needs to go down another 2ft or so and I have hit clay. I am having trouble breaking though it, does anyone have any ideas how I can do it myself or should I just hire someone?!

PurpleWithRed Fri 25-Mar-16 07:48:11

Hmm. The trouble with a clay layer like that is if you dig a hole in it effectively you're making a bucket - the hole will contain water and most plants with roots in it will just rot. How deep a hole do you need to dig for your monkey puzzle? Would it be proud of the ground if you just took your hole for it down to the clay level? I don't know if it would be happy on clay, but they're astonishingly tough (and grow very very big...).

dolkapots Fri 25-Mar-16 17:12:55

I am not an experienced gardener by any means but have recently dealt with a clay strip in my garden. I can honestly say it was back breaking (and it was only 3x12 feet approx!) but it has been worth it. I had 4 shrubs planted and as PP said it was just a bucket; large puddles would form on the surface etc.

I dug out as much of the border as I could, broke it up with a fork and put 50% back in, mixing it with 50% sharp sand. We have had rain the last few days and it is now completely draining which is great.

dolkapots Fri 25-Mar-16 17:14:55

Sorry just realized you weren't asking this blush so sorry no advice to offer, other than to check if monkey puzzle will grow in clay soil. I have 4 shrubs planted in mine which haven't shown any growth at all in the last year.

SmellySourdough Fri 25-Mar-16 17:16:04

pile up organic stuff i.e. compost, manure, straw and let earthworms do the work.

funnyperson Sat 26-Mar-16 03:37:58

brilliant to plant a monkey puzzle tree
horticultural grit and leaf mould help. horticultural grit may also be found as washed fine gravel.
your tree will be fine , once you have dug the hole for it! I have much sympathy. In our garden we used to get clay 6 ins down,which would puddle in wet weather and dry to cracking in dry weather and planting was very hard work. After three years of twice yearly compost mulch, and using leaf mould compost and manure everytime we plant anything, and making sure holes dug for planting are deep and wide and backfilled with compost and grit, plants no longer die, are easier to plant and the soil drains better and no longer cracks.

shovetheholly Tue 29-Mar-16 12:04:39

Get a mattock or even a broadfork! I am serious - they are brilliant for getting through compacted clay and you will be able to cancel your gym membership for the weeks you are using it!!

I'm afraid that if you have a very hard layer like that, you may have what's called a 'hardpan' which will mean your garden is slow to drain. Digging in loads and loads of grit and organic matter will help - gypsum can also be amazing for those conditions.

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