Hummingbird House The Garden Helper
No-dash-here, you've found The Real Garden Helper! Gardening on the Web since 1997
vine bar
Wild Willy
 

clay soil with rocks throughout

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2006
« Prev thread: Clay soil in the shade...| Next thread: clean air houseplants »
Back to Thread index
by netwiz on June 13, 2006 08:36 AM
I've been attempting to plant some flowers at my new property and realized we have horrid soil! It is thick clay with tons of rocks mixed in it. We live on a mountain and do have some larger rocks jutting out of the ground here and there, but I didn't think the soil would be full of them. I had planned to ammend the soil but don't see how it would be workable. Would someone have put the rocks into the clay on purpose to aid draining or is this just a natural thing? Argh!!!!

Raised flower beds might be an option but can I put them around the foundation of the house? I would love to plant something other than the shrubs that are already there. Does anyone else have this kind of problem and how did you fix it?

Thanks for your help,
Joanne
by Chrissy on June 13, 2006 09:31 AM
Hello [wavey]

I had hard clay soil with millions of stones in it at my previous home & my plants actually did wonderful in it. I did mix top soil & manure & compost into the clay & stones, but everything grew wonderfully. In my case the stones in the soil were natually there, but they didn't hinder plant growth at all. I sifted out the largest of the rocks, but left the most of them in the ground & just worked the soil until it was really loose & mixed in the ammendments & all went well for me:)

* * * *
 -
 -
z5b
by Wrennie on June 13, 2006 09:47 AM
JoAnne
I live in the Catskill mountains. Sounds like we have the same soil.(if you want to call it that) i make stone walls, stand stones on end etc to make walls, terraces etc. I find just a few inches, maybe 3", of gOOD soil on top of the clay is enough to get good reults. If you build up around your house just be sure you aren't burying any siding with dirt or you may get rot, or worse.
This:
 -
Looked like this last summer:
 -
(That was taken with a $20 digital wal mart camera. Looks kinda like a watercolor doesn't it?)

* * * *
 -
 -

 -

 - Summer Camp '07, July 14th weekend, won't you join us?  -
summer camp thread 1, 2, 3,4
by netwiz on June 13, 2006 09:50 AM
Thanks Chrissy! I'm a lot more optimistic after reading your post. I guess if I tackle one section at a time it won't be too overwheming.

Joanne
by netwiz on June 13, 2006 09:59 AM
Your garden looks beautiful Wrennie! Mixing soil into the clay and adding a few inches on top sounds like a good plan. There are 2 small areas similar to your first picture that do have flowers growing in them already. The previous owners must have done the same thing at some point. Thanks for the help!

Joanne
by tkhooper on June 14, 2006 12:58 AM
I've got clay too but most of the stones have been taken out. I'm finding that the easiest way to soften up the clay so I can get at it is to build a compost pile on top of it. Then when I turn it I dig up the clay. I want the clay to build some terraces here and their on my slope. I use it at the front of the terrace to hold the good soil in place. So far so good on that plan but it takes me a long time as you can imagine.

* * * *
 -
 -
by netwiz on June 15, 2006 07:59 AM
Thanks TK, not a bad idea for the back beds. I've got tons of leaves that we have raked up that I can throw on top. I suspect it will take years to get this place into the shape I want it.

Joanne
by tstockdale on June 16, 2006 07:01 PM
I have bad clay problems in my area and have some planting to do really soon. What is a good mixture for outside planting? Some of what I have been using has awful drainage. I'm probably adding too much peat moss [Frown]
Does 1 part peat moss, 1 part manure compost, somewhere from 1-2 parts of the original clay-filled soil, and a bit of perlite or vermiculite sound like an okay mix for outside planting that will provide good drainage? I'm open to suggestions!

* * * *
Matthew 7:21
by woodchuck on June 23, 2006 03:41 AM
Netwiz;
Depending on your budget, and the lay of your property an option to create a better base fast would be to rent a skidsteer with a tiller attachment to loosen the soil down about 10-12" then use a rock/stone grader through the loosened soil to get out most/all rocks and stuff. Then while you have the machine which probably comes with a bucket anyway have truck load of manure, or brown soil/topsoil dropped and use the bucket to spread it and the tiller to mix it. This would give you an excellent start on the ammending process, it's what I'd do in a minute if I could allocate funds towards that, or hire someone to at least do the screening for you.

tstockdale;
When I worked with smaller beds(10x20)the process that seemed to work fabulous was ;

1) remove a few inches of old soil, revitalize it in a compost pile.

2) wet down the area to be used, next day break it up, prep for the tiller.

3) mix equally; peat moss, topsoil, manure, compost or humus, this can be done in layers over the area to be tilled

4) till all the new ingrediants into the broken up base until you have good even distribution, and loose soil depth for the plants you will be using.

The ingrediants have always been in bag form from a discount retail store, or delivered by truck if the quantity justified it, the bags are easier though.

This approach to a clay base with low nutrients soil has never let me down, for veggies or flowers. We set up a perrenial bed like this 11years ago and it's still going strong, has never been watered, fertilized or disturbed, only what it gets from the rain/snow.

My $.02.
by netwiz on June 23, 2006 04:11 AM
Woodchuck,

My husband and I talked about doing something similar so we could have a nicer lawn. We plan to put in a pool in the next year or two and hope to do it all at the same time. The flower beds will have to be done one at a time and hopefully will be finished eventually. I gave up thinking I could do it all this year... now I'll be happy with just one or two beds to get something colorful in here.

Joanne

Active Garden Forum

« Prev thread: Clay soil in the shade...| Next thread: clean air houseplants »
Back to Thread index