How To Improve Clay Soil For Better Gardening?

How To Improve Clay Soil For Better Gardening? Have you ever started digging in your yard to plant or transplant a beautiful flower or tree?

As you dig down just a few inches you feel like you are trying to dig through thick mud? Welcome to clay soil. Digging deep enough through this will torture your back.

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You’ll end up with a plant that will be unhealthy most likely not survive. Don’t give up! Clay does have some major health benefits for your plant. Here is a guide to help you make that soil better.

All Soil

All soil has three types of particles in it. Clay, silt, and sand. Whichever there is more of is how the soil is labeled.

Clay Soil

Clay soil has the smallest of particles of all three types of soil. Because they stick together so well. The clay doesn’t allow for drainage or airflow.

Clay soil is bad for your plant since it doesn’t really drain well. It holds in all of the nutrients. This is wonderful for all plants.

Silk Soil

Silk soil is right in the middle of the clay and sand soil as far as the size of it goes. It does hold water really well and ends up releasing it as your plant needs it to.

Sandy Soil

Sandy soil is the largest of all three particles. These particles do not stick together at all. This makes for amazing drainage and air flowability. Mostly, the bad thing is that the nutrients aren’t held in either.

How To Improve Clay Soil For Better Gardening

Now that you understand the difference between the 3 soils. So you know that there are things that you can do to improve your clay soil.

Firstly, you need to figure out if it really is clay soil that you have. Does water gather on top of it instead of the soil soaking it up? Does it get cracked all over when it dries?

Maybe you get mud stuck to your shoes. This feels like an extremely thick glue when it rains, then you have clay soil.

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • It doesn’t need as much irrigation or fertilizer as other soil does.

  • It holds in moisture very well.

  • Extremely fertile.

  • It holds in nutrients perfectly.

Cons
  • Extremely poor drainage.

  • Easily compacts.

  • Poor airflow.

  • Hard to work with.

  • Usually cracks.

  • In the spring, it’s extremely slow to get warm.

 

Make It Right

If your plants are having trouble surviving. Then you need to do something to help them by improving your clay.

In doing this there are certain aspects of the clay that you need to keep. Like the ability to hold in the nutrients. But you also need to get it to where it drains better.

Most of all, it’s not as hard for you to work with. You need to make it to where your plants can get more air to them. All of this will make for healthier plants.

So, how do you get this done? The first step would be to have the soil tested. This test will tell you if your needing help. Maybe guide you on what changes you would need to make to your soil.

You can either get your soil tested or you can go and buy your own testing kit. Even try to accomplish it yourself. In all honesty, getting a pro to test it is way more accurate.

Amendment Improvements

The organic matter would probably be the best way for you to start improving clay soil. This will improve your soil’s structure to make it drain much better. Mostly, you will have a better airflow, and to make it so much easier to work with it.

Top Options

Compost this is the top option to improve your soil. You can make this at home with dead leaves, dead flowers, grass, and food waste.

Leaf Mold is just dead leaves that have decayed for about two years. This is like the gold of gardening compost. Providing that you are able to locate enough of it.

Manure, none of us really enjoy working with manure but it does improve clay soil. As gross as it may sound, rotten manure is best. The smell is usually gone when it’s rotted.

Worm Casting comes from earthworms. It’s pretty high in organic matter. Most importantly, it has a lot of nutrients that would be beneficial for your plants. It helps to improve drainage and airflow.

Improving Your Soil

Firstly, you will need to choose which of those amendments you are wanting to use. Secondly, spread about a six-inch layer of it on top of the clay soil. Lastly, find a sharp shovel, you will need to work this about twelve – inches down into the clay soil.

If it doesn’t seem possible to be able to work anything into your soil. Then the best thing that you can do is to spread the amendment on top of your soil.

By the way, late fall or exceedingly early winter is best. This will allow the weather conditions of the winter to do quite a bit of this hard work for you.

Maintenance Tips

Now that all of the difficult work is done. There are a few things that you need to do to keep your soil from going back to how it was. There are four things that you need to do.

Organic Matter

Continue using organic matter every year, simply add about a three-inch layer on top. You will not need to work it in anymore but remember to add this yearly.

No Tilling

Do not till and compact your soil. It will destroy all of the work you have already done.

Natural Mulch

You will need to add mulch that is natural and that will add organic materials. Regular mulch holds in moisture but with clay soil, moisture is already held in.

Soil Testing

Every few years make a point in having your soil tested. This will help let you know if you need to add any more amendments.

With all the hard work, you did improve your clay soil. You should be enjoying some of the healthiest vegetables or having more ease with landscaping your property.