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Horticultural Grit

I'm new to planting and have been advised to get Horticultural grit!
I don't know where to start! There are so many variables and brands!

- Do I really need it?
- Does buying more expensive make it better
- What brand/type would you advise

Thanks Lizzie


  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,278
    What have you been advised that you need it for? That advice might well be misplaced.
  • Claggy soil!!
  • mandyroberts99mandyroberts99 BedfordshirePosts: 188
    If you are going to dig into any size flower bed it will be back breaking and you will need loads!
  • BenCottoBenCotto RutlandPosts: 3,278
    It depends on how much soil you wish to improve but the likelihood is you’ll need tons and tons of grit - far too much to make it an economically viable option. A far better bet is home made compost or manure. Ask on local Facebook sites or if there are any nearby bulk suppliers. The neighbourhood allotment might be able to give you a contact as well.
  • Pete.8Pete.8 Billericay, EssexPosts: 7,871
    If it's clay then this article from the RHS should help-
    I used composted bark as they recommend and it has worked a treat on a heavy clay border in my garden
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • VictorMeldrewVictorMeldrew Peak District edge, CheshirePosts: 174
    Hi Lizzie,
    You only need to change your soil if you're intent on growing plants that require a well-drained soil. I'd suggest you buy or borrow Nicola Ferguson's book Right Plant, Right Place or Roy Lancaster's Perfect Plant, Perfect Place and start with plants that like your soil. We have a heavy clay soil and still grow some lovely plants eg. AstrantiaCrocosmiaRudbeckiaPersicariaWeigela, Helenium .... there's loads.
    Every now and then I like to do as I'm told, just to confuse people
  • Lizzie27Lizzie27 Bath, SomersetPosts: 8,513
    Like the others, I use well rotted manure, leaf mould or home made compost to my clay soil. I only use H.Grit (the cheaper the better) for plants that need it in pots, or under bulbs in the ground.
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 2,946
    It depends how heavy your soil is and whether it drains. People talk about clay soil but that can mean a bit sticky right through to solid clay. You need to have a good look at it: can you see anything but clay, are there worms, does water sit on it for hours or days after rain? Dig a hole about 12 - 18 inches. Does it fill up with water? Does rain drain away? Do you have any topsoil before you hit the clay layer?
    If your soil is really solid you need a mix of composted manure, garden compost and grit. I'm surprised that people say its backbreaking and not worth it: I'm an old woman with a bad back and I found it really satisfying and rewarding to do this work - a bit at a time, admittedly! The difference it makes to your soil and plants is enormous and very well worth while. Very little grows well in real clay and it it impossible to work, but improved with muck and grit it is excellent stuff.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 7,217
    edited November 2021
    Posy,(how's the back)it depends on the area, our plot is 200ft. Hubby removed the clay completely from one border about 30ft long,dug down as far as the gas main, replaced with a ton of topsoil. (My garden is north facing,with a slight downward slope. After heavy rain, the bottom end could be under several inches of water.)This particular border was (is) permanently shaded. The rest improved over 10 years. I use grit underneath bulbs,in pots. Another area again soil removed with a couple of ton of ericacious soil replacement for rhododendrons and the like. Yes, I do have fabulous roses!
  • PosyPosy Isle of Wight.Posts: 2,946
    Hi, @Nanny Beach. That's a real achievement! We couldn't replace our soil when we started, we had to do everything on a shoestring. We have drainage problems , too, with a high water table in winter but we have sunny and shady areas. I worked my way through a section at a time, clearing the soil, forking it over and then piling on muck and grit and mixing it up to a depth of about 18 inches, 2ft. I add more muck every year, at least once but twice if I can.
    The soil is fantastic now and full of worms and bugs - it was just oozing grey clay when I started. The back is ok, sort of.
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