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How to improve clay soil

Our full garden is made up of clay soil - is there anything I can do to improve it? We spread seaweed and bark in autumn to keep weeds and slugs at bay, will it hepl if I dig it in at a later date? Our beds are quite big - 20m x 1 with a couple of large patches. We have the option of horse manure but wasn't sure if it would help?


  • RedwingRedwing Posts: 1,396

    Horse manure is the best improver for clay soils. You can either dig it in (hard work) or spread it generously as a mulch and let the worms do the work.

    Based in Sussex, I garden to encourage as many birds to my garden as possible.
  • PosyPosy Posts: 3,601

    When people say clay soil, it can mean anything from rather heavy and sticky to solid clay. The more solid it is, the more muck and grit dug into it will improve it. If you just want to improve it gradually, you don't need to dig very much, but if it is really bad and you want a speedy change, digging is the way to do it.

  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 16,706

    If you can get well rotted horse manure ( it should have no smell and be like peat in texture), pile it on six inch deep for the winter, and let the worms take it down. If you have to fork it in for the veg patch etc, by April, it will turn into easy fork soil.

  • Bright starBright star Posts: 1,152

    Spent mushroom compost is also highly recommended by many gardeners. 

    Life's tragedy is that we get old too soon and wise too late.

  • The Mineral Gypsum is said to help break down heavy clay soil but it is expensive to use on large areas.

    If it is a veg bed I would rough dig in Autumn & leave in large lumps for the rain & frost to get at it, then use the options above for manure & compost, Seaweed is a very good soil conditioner too so if you fork over in spring you may find it has worked quite well already.

    AB Still learning

  • Thanks all, I'll give your suggestions a try!

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