srdempster
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Joined: Fri May 19, 2006 11:43 am

Clay soil - help?????

I've moved into a new house and the soil at the back is pooling water and not draining away. The house was built on an old sand pit and contains a lot of clay too. A gravel/pipe drain was put in 2-3 wk ago and started to help but lot of rain last few days and is pooling again in one area. The footprints in the mud stay there and when it dries it cracks like the desert!

Can I rotavate this and lawn it without it killing the lawn off, the site manager reckons the lawn will dry it out.

garden_mom
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Location: Detroit, MI

You need to ammend the clay with LOTS and LOTS of compost tilled in, and it will probably take a lot of time to get something resembling healthy soil. Don't put sand in it, you may end up with cement-like stuff in the ground.

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Grey
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Location: Summerville, GA, Zone 7a

I have clay soil too.
Good news is, it is HIGH in nutrients. So you just need organic stuff to loosen it up with. I mix about 50/50, I really do. And I have some HAPPY plants, and don't even fertilize as much as one would expect. :)

opabinia51
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Yes, starting off with clay rather than sand is much better because clay naturally forms soil aggregates and sand is less likely to do so. Anyway, with the addition of mulched up leaves, and manures with other greens you will ammend your clay problem.

Daylilly
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I have a problem with clay soil in my backyard where I just planted some flowers today, too. Is it too late to add the compost? I'm assuming that it's supposed to be totally mixed in with all of the soil before planting, right? Sorry for the dumb questions, I'm very new to gardening. I am loving it so far though. :)

garden_mom
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Location: Detroit, MI

It is never, never too late to add organic material. Dig it in around your flowers. Also I was thinking about the large area srdempster has, and I read an article where someone in Chicago had a drywell put in, and it's just beautiful the way they did it. It's in the new Organic Gardening if you want to look at it. The people built a gazebo over it and put a lot of plants around it.

opabinia51
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Oh, I want to correct something that Garden mom said at the top there. Tilling will break up the compost to make it more clay like. It is actually best to just work the compost in in the form of trenches and sheet composts and let the worms "till" the soil for you.

Tilling also shreds worms, springtails and other beneficial soil organisms that will help to ammend the clayness of your soil.

What I find works really great is to add compostables in the form of a sheet compost:

Manure
Leaves
grass clippings
Leaves
Plant Rye and mow

You can do this (minus the Rye) in trench composts along your area as well. I do a couple a year as space permits.

Mulching the leaves with the lawnmower allows them to decompose nice and fast and it prevents leaves like maples from matting.

garden_mom
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Location: Detroit, MI

You're right, sorry about that wording. I always say 'tilling' when I actually mean to dig it in. I've never owned a tiller or used one because I don't want to kill my earthworms.

opabinia51
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Oh that's no problem Gardenmom, thanks for contributing.

Musad
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Location: Ohio

We have heavy clay here too in central Ohio so when I plant something I use a shovelful of peat moss mixed with the top soil and this seems to help the plant too.

opabinia51
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Peat moss is widely used across North America and I believe Europe and other continents but, it is actually better to use peat alternatives because the extraction of peat from peat bogs is a large environemental problem and peat contains very little if not no nutrients and it is nearly impossible to wet once it has dried out.

Anyway, I use cocoa bean hulls that have a good NPK value and also contain micronutrients and are a byproduct of the chocolate industry.

There are other alternatives but, I can't think of them at the moment.

Does anyone know of any such alternatives?

Raul
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Joined: Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:23 pm
Location: Chicago

Hello, garden mom, what do you mean by DIGGING In.
Do you mean making holes?

thank You

raul

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