Problem soil: sandy topsoil on clay sub soil

I have just started digging some new beds from lawn. The topsoil (a little more than a spades depth) is very sandy but the subsoil contains large lumps of sticky red clay. I'm planning on planting things that are suitable for a seaside garden, and was going to dig in some organic matter to the topsoil to help the plants along, but should I try to improve the clay layer, or leave well alone? Any help appreciated!


  • daydaisydaydaisy Posts: 364

    If you had a lawn growing on this earth there must be some drainage. Try some sand loving plants and see how they do. I grow some herb type plants on a dry sandy border such as rosemary and lavender. Whatever you dig in your soil it will always revert to its original state unless you completely replace the top soil. I would give it a trial run before spending too much. Good luck!

  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,122

    I think I'd double dig it to mix the two layers, add plenty of organic material FYM or home made compost. If you do you'll have great soil.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 43,806

    I agree with Dave Morgan - if you just dig the top layer you run the risk of creating an impermeable layer of clay which will cause drainage problems - mixing the two together and incorporating lots of organic material will create great growing conditions. image

    No-one knows if you've done your housework, but everyone knows if you've done your gardening !
  • ightenighten Posts: 184

    All the land here is like that, with the added horror that the ground seems to breed solid lumps of stone . mix n it together with plenty of organic  matter, if you can get hold of mushroom compost it's great as a soil improver.

  • Busy Bee2Busy Bee2 Posts: 1,005

    Ighten - me too - much of Lincolnshire is like that - in fact some bits just have the clay image.  I have several inches of sandy topsoil, then orangey clay, but the clay doesn't seem to affect the drainage too negatively, probably because there are gaps in the sandstone underneath that.  But the lumps of stone are a nightmare.  I have sifted loads out of the soil, to the point where after several digs, you would have thought I'd have winkled them all out in the raised beds, but I keep finding them.  We have an enormous pile of smaller stones halfway down the paddock image

  • ightenighten Posts: 184

    BB2 - The whole valley here used to have quite an industry in quarry. I believe Trafalgar Square uses stone from the area.


    I have two acres at the back of the barn to cultivate in the coming years, lets just say I suspect I will have enough stone once I start digging to build more dry stone walls around the entire area  with stone left over to replace any broken ones in Trafalgar Square.

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