Improving Clay Soil

How To Improve Garden Soil

Improving clay soil and knowing how to create rich loamy garden soil using common soil conditioners is a very important part of being a successful gardener.

Natural soil improvement means using organic addatives to improve soil texture and supply the nutrients your plants crave.

Roses are very particular about soil and need very good drainage, so do not even think of planting them in heavy clay soil, which is the worst draining soil there is, without improving it.

A little help for the soil prior to planting will ensure you get the best from your garden, and your roses and other plants will be healthy and very productive when planted in such rich loamy soil.

Well-drained soil is critical for roses because roses do not like wet feet.

They do best in soil that is loose (not clay) so that the water hydrates, and then drains away from the roots.

Poorly drained soil, like clay soil, holds too much water and not enough air.

Roots of most plants don't function properly in soggy soil and they become prone to root diseases, and roses usually wilt and die.

That's what this page improving clay soil is all about, but you can apply all this to any planting situation.

Please visit my web page about the importance of your soil pH value is to your roses.

Fall is a great time for preparing flower beds for spring planting and improving the clay soil by adding general conditioners such as compost.

Apply a thick layer of a combination of soil conditioners on top of he planting area and dig them down deeply.

A garden fork is ideal for blending in conditioners and other soil amendments if you have clay soil.

Dig up the soil to a depth of at least 1 foot and then rake it out thoroughly to break up any clay clumps.

Why Improve Garden Soil?
Improving Clay Soil

Texture in garden soil often needs improvements to correct drainage problems such as clay heavy soils, or help retain more moisture, as in sandy soils.

The plants in your garden use a variety of nutrients to grow healthy and provide the best flowers, vegetables and fruit.

In most cases your garden soil needs periodic improvement to help meet the demand for nutrients.

Many visitors to my Rose Gardening Made Easy web site want to know why their rose plants aren't blooming well anymore. The reason is they haven't been improving the soil in their garden beds.

How To Improve Clay Soil
Or Any Garden Soil

The first step to improving soil is to determine what it needs.

Poor drainage, such as in clay soil is fairly obvious, but to detect nutrient deficiency you should test your soil. Click on this link to obtain a home test kit for determining general soil acidity or alkalinity.

Specific nutrient tests need to be conducted by a soil testing laboratory. Inquire at your local garden center.

These tests can help to determine the nutrients and trace element requirement for your soil.

Soil problems are corrected by adding natural, organic conditioners. Click on this link to view Dr. Earth's soil conditioners, one of the very best on the market, and the one I personally use in my own garden.

Soil conditioners can be any of a number of organic materials, from well-rotted manure to composted leaves.

All soil conditioners must be thoroughly blended into the soil. The traditional method is to use a garden fork or spade.

For larger areas, conditioners can be blended in with a Mantis Tiller. This garden tool is especially helpful when blending soil conditioners into clay heavy soil.

Garden forks and steel rakes are ideal tools for distributing and blending conditioners into areas that are already planted.

When To Improve Soil
Improving Clay Soil

The best time to add conditioners is before you plant in spring, so that new growth gets the best start. You can also do soil improvement in the fall, to prepare for planting in winter or spring.

Improving Clay Soil Tip

Wet soil is hard to work with and will not blend well with newly added soil conditioners. Working wet garden soil can also compact air spaces.

Wait until the soil is just dry before attempting to improve it. You can determine that the soil is ready to work when it is dry enough to crumble in your hand.

Improving Soil: New Garden Beds

  • Water the garden well a few days before you dig up the soil. This is especially important if the soil is heavy or has never been tilled before.
  • Run the tiller in parallel lines, aligning the passes next to each other. If the garden soil seems hard to break up, make two passes.
  • Shovel the conditioners you are using onto the soil. Spread it as evenly as possible. Put one conditioner on top of the other in even layers.
  • Run the rotary tiller over the soil again in even parallell passes until the conditioners are evenly blended into the soil to a depth of 6-8 inches.
  • Rake the surface level after you have dug in the conditioners. Water well to settle soil and prepare the bed for planting the next day.

Improving Soil: Existing Garden Beds

  • Use a garden fork to break up soil about 2-3 inches deep around plants. Chop larger chunks and then turn soil.
  • Sprinkle conditioners on the soil. Use the garden fork to evenly blend the conditioners into the soil.
  • Level area by raking in one direction and then in the opposite direction. Water the conditioned area thoroughly.
  • Now you really know how important improving clay soil or any garden soil is, so go ahead and improve your own garden beds this fall or spring.


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