Forum home Problem solving

Silly question about clay

I have just discovered that one end of my garden is composed of 20 - 25 cm topsoil overlying solid clay on one side and sand/gravel on the other - both clearly natural.

I had hope to plant some dahlias down there this year (on the clay), but ultimately was thinking of a couple of nice shrubs (pieris, not sure what else) in the corners. Will that work? The clay is obviously very solid and I don't know if plants can survive growing into it! image



  • Gold1locksGold1locks Posts: 498

    Pieris will only work if the soil is acidic, and it really prefers good well drained soil to thrive, so I suspect it will struggle on your clay even if it is acidic, unless you prepare the planting hole well. I have similar soil to you, and lost quite a few shrubs / trees by just digging holes big enough for the rootball with a bit to spare. They died because of lack of moisture in dry summers and sitting in saturated soil in winter. 

    If planting a shrub or tree I now use a pickaxe, 5 ft long crowbar and mattock to break up the underlying hardpan down to at least 2 feet deep and at least the same across. Sometimes I wish I had a pneumatic drill!

    Thee are a few shrubs that can handle heavy clay well with out a lot of preparation.  One is the cornus (alba, flaviramea, sanguinea, Midwinter Fire etc. )

  • nutcutletnutcutlet Posts: 27,415

    Ribes seems to cope pretty well, I've lost lots of things on similar soil

    In the sticks near Peterborough
  • Blimey Goldilocks, perhaps I will just stick to Dahlias!


Sign In or Register to comment.