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Rocky soil

Hello. I was  wondering if anyone had any advise for me.

My husband and I have just moved into a fairly modern house and were digging out the beds in the back garden ready for our roses. We have. As we dug away, about spade and half in we hit rock. Now this rock if hit hard enough will eventually break to form fist sized rocks.

My problem is my bareroot roses are arriving soon, so I have two questions

1) The fact that we have this rocky surface at the bottom, will this be bad for my roses.

2) What else can I add to the existing soil to improve it?





  • Gary HobsonGary Hobson Posts: 1,892

    Do you really mean rock? Or clay?

    You can tell if it's clay because when wet, clay becomes very sticky. 'Rocks' cannot normally be broken very easily. When clay is dry it might appear like rock. Or could it be compacted hardcore, or builders' rubble?

    Gardens that are on clay do exhibit the property that you can dig down through the topsoil to about a spade's depth, and then you meet a layer of clay, which may appear solid. Clay can, in principle, be excavated and 'improved', but that's a very big job. Roses will grow down through clay. Many people grow roses satisfactorily on clay without going to all the trouble of trying to excavate or dig through the clay.


  • Busy-LizzieBusy-Lizzie Posts: 21,712

    When I had a problem with deer eating the roses in part of the garden I dug them up and planted them in big pots and they've done very well. So I planted 3 David Austin climbers in pots too (not big ones) and they've done well. The pots are 18 inches deep, so I should think that if you can get a hole 18" deep the roses should be OK. I half filled the pots with manure and earth then I topped it up with compost and I feed them from time to time, starting in the spring with rose fertiliser. They need watering regularly but yours shouldn't need watering so much, being in the ground.

    My soil in the garden was quite stony - limestone some of which is quite soft - and very alkali, but I've dug a lot of manure and compost into it over the years. If the soil is alkali the roses may get yellow leaves and you have to feed them sequestered (? spelling) iron.

    Dordogne and Norfolk. Clay in Dordogne, sandy in Norfolk.
  • I grow mine in heavy clay soil and they do fine when the weather is not wet.image

  • Rose ladyRose lady Posts: 107


    Thanks for getting back to me. I would say the soil is quite rocky. I have now been told that the rocks are clay, and yes can be broken down. I have grown flower carpet roses in huge pot which have done really well for years. Ive moved houses a few times which is why most of my flowers and plants are in pots, however I wanted to have a go at ramblers and roses actually in the ground, so thank you Busy-Lizzie

    To Gary Hobson...BIG thanks for reassuring me that roses will grow through clay!! image To flowering rose...our front garden is very heavy clay, so like yours maybe my David Austin roses will do fine. They'll be here soon...really excited to get them in the ground!

    Can you also advise me whether it would be a mistake using bark to mulch roses with, as ive read it depleats the Nitrogen? Is compost or Manure better for them?


  • Alina WAlina W Posts: 1,445

    Bark is fine. It will only affect the top layer of soil, and your roses' roots will be much deeper, so won't be affected.

  • Rose ladyRose lady Posts: 107

    Thank you Alina W. If you have any more advice for rose care, please let me know.

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