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I'm hoping someone can give me a bit of advice.  A small area of my front garden was previously used as a hard standing for a caravan.  It was filled with large stoned shingle (almost pebble size).  I have managed to get rid of some of the pebbles which one of my neighbours had but still have some left.  I am planning on getting rid of the hardstanding and using the area to plant some crab apple trees  and the soil is heavy clay.  As I want to try and improve the heavy clay prior to planting and avoid having to pay someone to come and remove the remainder of the stones, would it be feasible to just dig over the entire area incorporating the pebbles into the clay or are the pebbles too large.  I have read that pea size gravel can be used to improve drainage in clay soil but I'm wondering if the large stoned shingle I have is too big.  Any advice would be appreciated.


  • Arthur1Arthur1 Posts: 533
    The stones will not benefit the soil as they are too large to improve the drainage. However they will do no real harm.  You could keep them to use as a mulch.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,299
    I have a crab apple standing on clay, seems quite happy there.I would get rid of as many pebles as you can, they will drive you nuts when you try to plant.
  • musmanali2020musmanali2020 PakistanPosts: 29
    The clay have a large portion of water in it. I think you should leave a land under the sun shine so that it gets dry to some extend after that you should sow seed of your desired plant.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,587
    Fork over the clay and remove as many of the bigger pebbles as you can then push a large garden fork into the layer below and wiggle back and forth to open up drainage holes.  Do this at frequent intervals to avoid makinga sump effect that holds wtare and drowns roots.

    Pile on a thick layer of several inches of well-rotted manure, garden compost and/or bought in cheap compost such as MPC.  There's some helpful advice on the RHS site about planting trees and shrubs in clay soil.  Have a read of this -

    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
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  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,299
    The wildlife does eat them in my garden Freddies Da, and then there is crab apple jelly.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 28,587
    I planted two in my last garden, for the blackbirds and anyone else who fancied them.  They never touched them or the bird cherries and there are limits to how much crab apple jelly you can eat if you don't eat bread very often.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Bromley, KentPosts: 127
    Ideally you should probably try and get the pebbles below the clay, which would save having to get rid of them, plus it would improve drainage. A lot of work, but you'd only do it once.  
  • FireFire North LondonPosts: 17,116
    I planted some native crab apple hedging this winter - mostly for wildlife - blossom and apples. But then nothing ever eats the berries on my pryacanthus hedge so maybe they won't touch the crab apples either. I guess my neighbours are going to be getting a lot of jelly in future years.

    I have seen quite a bit of disagreement as to whether adding pebbles or sand to clay would help drainage. I read that mixing sand to clay basically creates concrete. I imagine digging pebbles into clay would, in the summer, make hard rock with hard rocks in it. And make things harder to dig when the clay is soft.

    I use local 'buy, sell, swap' groups (like Freecycle, Shpock and Gumtree) and to give garden things I don't want or have space for. There's usually someone out there who is looking for useful free resources like gravel, pebbles, wood chip, top soil, pallets etc. I'm in London and neighbours snap these things up pretty quickly (and do they carrying). I imagine rural situs might make it harder to find takers. But it's worth a go. I haven't yet found a taker for dug out clay. :smile:
  • Mark56Mark56 Windsor, BerkshirePosts: 1,653
    I'm surprised, the blackbirds go mad for my pyracantha berries in late Autumn 
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