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Clay soil problem

Hi All, I have bought a new house which has rock hard clay soil, have planted a number of things all of which don't last long. Tried plant feed and fertilizer, but still no joy. Please, any ideas? Thanks image


  • happymarionhappymarion Posts: 4,591

    I had this forty eight years ago,Lola, but not any more.  The first thing was to try and get some humus in, so two cartloads of cow manure from a local farm was distributed. Then came the cultivation - digging and leaving in ridges for the frost to break down.  After that I grew loads of potatoes as that meant earthing up and digging out the crop - all good for breaking up the clay.  regular deliveries of horse manure every spring and autumn have kept it in good heart.  Clay soil is usually very fertile anyway so don't waste your money on plant feed and fertiliser but make your own compost to augment animal manure.  I can grow anything I want in my garden ,even things that like acid soil by careful placing of trees whose leaves break down to acidify the soil .  Start with robust plants like potatoes.  look round your neighbours' gardens and find out what works for them.  a buddeia bush and some valerian(perhaps a white one) would surely not die on you, look lovely, andbring in the pollinators.  Roses will flourish too.

  • lydiaannlydiaann Posts: 298

    We bought our bungalow last August; there were 2 ornamental shrub borders and mainly lawn for the rest of it (it's quite a large lot).  I had 4 new beds dug out in October and left rough dug so that winter could do its work.  Over the winter we've also reworked the soil several times, adding lots of compost (it had to  be commercially sourced as I obviously have not had time to build up my own yet).  It's taken a lot of work, a lot of compost, some manure but now my beds are fully workable and I have started planting: fruit, shrubs, perennials.  My herbs will be going in this week, my tomatoes and sweet peas are already sown in the greenhouse and I shall be sowing cold weather crops in 2 weeks (lettuce, spinach, etc.) - but only after one more workover of the lot.  Clay soil is difficult, but not impossible if the appropriate work is done in the first place.  My suggestion would be to start again - and I agree with the potatoes, great for preparing the soil.

  • I have a heavy clay garden. I grow a lot of things in pots as I am unable to dig, but roses thrive well in a clay soil so I have a large rose bed and had roses this year until after Christmas.

  • connie77connie77 Posts: 151

    Hi , I have a clay area in my Gardenbut, it is in quite a shady corner, any ideas please as to what i could grow in it? I don't have alot of depth unfortunately , someone suggested a Hosta? but i am new to gardening so i want something i can learn to look after and see flourish, all comments and suggestions would be great , thanks connie

  • I had heavy clay soil in a garden and agree with Happymarion, all manure, mushroom compost bulky matter you can get and dig in will help breal it down.I found runner beans loved it as it retains moisture and has good nutrients.

    As for shade, foxgloves,hardy  geraniums(not peragoniums), pulmonaria, green hellebores, wild violets, forget me nots, brunneria,  lily of the valley. lamium, lysimachia(creeping jenny, but get the yellow one not the green as it is invasive), periwinkle, aquilegia, asters, euphorbia, violas, skimmia.........and many more like or tolerate shade. All these I have grown and once watered in and established are as tough as old boots!!

  • mrs figgmrs figg Posts: 6

    roses are fine in clay. Rosemary and lavender seem to like it too, and bulbs, but anything acidowatsitous like camelia or hydrangea seem to hate it, but thats in my garden, it may be different for other people.

  • ritnaritna Posts: 39

    oh happy-marion! a lady of sound advice.... the advice is spot on, I have a clay soil which over the past 3 years has been topped with my own compost mixed with horse manure. The first year I just watched the garden to see what there was, what my neighours were growing well, and spent the summer & autumn adding compost and just losening the soil, not digging it. The second year I shaped my garden how I wanted it and by last summer had completely changed the topsoil. I dont use any shop bought fertisliser (apart from fish, blood and bone which I use when planting shrubs and trees), I feed the soil not the plants. the only thing I will use for annuals including all veg and toms etc is 'nettle stew' as we call it. This year I have an allotment too, so am going to use comfrey there to see if theres any  difference between that or the nettle steeped liquid (with both, just use 1 part liquid to 10 parts  of water). I hope you enjoy your new garden for years to come!  

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