how do you manage very heavy clay soil
You add as much humus rich material as you can, as often as possible to it - so things like composted animal manure, ordinary garden compost you've made yourself, soil conditioning compost from the garden centre, leafmould, spent mushroom compost, even mulches such as fine bark chips. The addition of grit helps too - usually sold in largeish bags as horticultural grit.
21 Aug, 2012
As well as all the above, you could do a bit of double digging, hard work but worth the effort because you double the depth of decent soil, google for details, Derek.
I have to tell you from the outset there is no easy ways of dealing with it. But equally with a bit of endeavour it can produce some good stuff.
I agree with the previous comments and this is how I have dealt with the subject on my website;
My elderly mum has a very heavy clay soil , lives too far away for me to look after it, can't manage it herself and chooses not to employ a gardener.
She likes to do light gardening work and keep her garden weed free so a couple of years ago I spread a layer of potting compost over the top of the clay soil and around her existing plants to a depth of about 2 inches. She can now hoe the ground very easily to keep it weed free using a dutch hoe. ( I chose not to use bark chippings as birds have a habit of chucking that around when they're looking for bugs)
The garden I treated in such away is quite small ( About 18 feet square with a central lawn and a 2-3 foot border all around) From memory I used about eight 70 litre bags at a cost of approximately £30 . It took me less than half an hour to do the job.
The compost looks attractive unlike the heavy clay which used to set like concrete and look like it! . It is easily hoed and if she wants to add a plant or two she can scrape the compost back, dig a hole , plant a new plant, and put the compost back in place.
Obviously this method is no good for vegetable gardeners who need to dig inlots of nutrients but to create a very easy care attractive border without all that digging it works well.
Every couple of years or so I'll have to add a bit more compost as the worms slowly drag it down.
As Bamboo says--add lots of good stuff. I have very heavy clay and it has taken a good few years to get a decent layer of friable soil, but now it is so much easier to work. Clay grows lovely roses too!
Everything Bamboo has said is spot on if you're up to all that work. Many elderly or disabled folk aren't. I know because they employ me to do it!
I agree Anchorman, but to be honest, although the results won't be as quick, you can just add humus rich materials as mentioned to the top of the soil, particularly in autumn and spring. Saves all that digging, and natural processes take it down and change the structure over time. The only thing necessary to dig in is the grit, really...
22 Aug, 2012
How do I say thanks?
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