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How to Improve Your Waterlogged Garden That Has Clay Soil

May 22, 2020

For anyone that thinks their garden is very damp and bog-like. The first thing to try and work out is whether the soil is just moisture-laden or is actually heavily clay-based.

Clay soils tend to have a smoother texture and are slightly sticky to the touch.

A great tip is to grab a handful and squeeze the water out,  if the soil sticks together in a smooth shiny ball shape then it’s more than likely that you have a clay-based soil.

How to plant in a clay-based soil?

When you fully know that you have a high clay soil content, don’t panic.

As with all gardens, with the correct care and planting, you can achieve an incredible garden.

Clay holds on to nutrients very well. Woody plants like trees, rose and shrubs, can love this type of soil. Stay away from a drought-tolerant plant as they will not like it.

How to plant in clay soil

Here are a few simple tips to help you plant well in clay-rich soil.

  • In autumn dig over the soil – this will help it break down into a finer tilth
  • Try not to walk on the soil – this can further compact the soil. Walk on boards or plants if you can.
  • Increase the drainage – add in plenty of grit or garden compost. You will have to keep doing this over the course of a few years
  • Plant out in spring – as the weather warms the soil will dry slightly. This is the best time to plant as you know that it will be less waterlogged.
  • When planting make larger holes – with clay it’s better to have a slightly bigger hole at the bottom, break up the soil and add a little grit.
  • Mulch – add as much mulch as you can to the soil. Again this will help with the drainage.
  • Add walkways – try not to walk on the soil or grass. Add attractive stepping stones or pathways to stop the garden becoming muddy and distressed.

If you’ve tried all of the above and you’re still not happy then you have a couple of options. Either try and replace as much of the natural soil as possible or to try something like raised beds.

With raised beds, you can control exactly the soil type and nutrient levels that your plants will love. This means that you can plant whatever type of plant you wish if the conditions are right.

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