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Lavender border in acid claggy soil - too big a battle?

Hope some of you proper gardeners can help me here,

Im helping a friend re plant a very narrow long border in front of their house ( 3 ft x 24 ft) - they are adamant they want Lavender pretty much through the whooe bed. I am ripping my hair out because a soil test said the soil was 4.5 so pretty Acid and its also abit dense - im a begginer so unsure but i would say loamy/clay.

My basic understanding is that this is the WOST type of combo for Lavender, ive tried to read up on sharp sand but everyone seems to be saying something contradictory about it - ive come to the conclusion that digging in a little seashell for the first few inches and then maybe some grit but i feel like this is just a losing battle - could someone put me right? I cannot bring them round to anything other than lavender apart from heathers at the front which like acid so im now in a double bind!


  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    Any Lavender you plant in that will give up almost immediately.

    I had the same situation when planting my Lavender bed.

    I didnt use any of the clay/stony soil that came out of mine, instead I used a mix of Top Soil/Compost/Farmyard Manure and a lot of Sharp Sand. This seems to have made the mixture Ph Neutral.

    My Lavender love it. The growth on the plants in 18months is extremely impressive.

    Oh and the Bees love it too!

  • Thanks Matt,


    the issue here is that means pulling out all the soil and starting again and i have time and budget constraints - i really dont want to let him down he REALLY wants Lavender but its looking like a complete restart with the soil is the only option?

  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    Im afraid so yes. Lavender will not grow in Clay.

    Heather would be a brilliant choice if you can coax him into it :P

  • Lavender do not need manure (unless you want it to grow lanky) and sand keeps moisture at the roots (bad idea). You are better to add in lots of large grit and bark and work that into the clay soil, adding in no compost (unless it is pure blue clay!). That will keep the soil light and drainage improved.

  • Yeah i have been working on him over heather - its a SLOW process.

    Tbh i dont think the soil is clay - it doesnt stretch from a ball when wet, i really dont have alot of experience so im thinking that due to how it holds water quite well but doesnt crack in the sun that its a loam/clay mix but ultimately the issue is drainage.

    Gardening is complicated!

  • ElusiveElusive Posts: 992

    I can't remember if I used Manure on the Lavender Bed. I was doing a hell of a lot of work at the time :P

    I think the Main Bulk of it was Top soil and Sand that I had bought in.

  • Rosie31Rosie31 Posts: 483

    Take heart!  I do have a lavender border in clay soil - I added lots (lots) of coarse grit before planting it.  The plants are not exactly bursting with the joy of life (they do tend to get a bit mildewy) but they are surviving fine.   I'd say do the grit thing, don't plant too close together, and warn your friend he is going to have to keep spraying with fungicide....hope he's not organic!

    The killer combination would be clay plus cold and wet.  Where are you in the country?

    One possible option might be Perovskia - perhaps in among the lavender?  It is gorgeous, you'll find a picture online, and it takes over just when the lavender is fading away.  And it doesn't mind clay-ish soil.  I've got lots and it is one of the most lovely sights in the garden at this time of year.  Might be an easier 'sell' than the heathers!

    Good luck, tell us how you get on...

  • chickychicky Posts: 10,379

    My soil is acid clay - so I grow my lavender in pots - they seem to do better that way.

  • Thankyou all ( REALLY)

    Im much clearer on the whole thing now - im not sure going for it and using fungicide will work he wants 'low maintenance' and i suspect isnt keen on chemicles ( im not either)

    I have put the ball in his court saying either - its going to take ALOT of work or you need to make peace with it and give up.

    I will look into Catmint ( hardly any cats nearby) and Perovskiaimage

  • SwissSueSwissSue Posts: 1,447

    You might mention to him that lavender isn't exactly "low maintenance". You have to cut it back every year!

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