Asked on Mar 1, 2013

Hard clay soil

Gail SalminenH.C. LawnLawn Pro


What can I put on my lawn and garden to soften the soil so my trees and plants will get the water and room to spread their roots? I bought this home and it was already planted so I can not afford to start over.
5 answers
  • Ouina
    on Mar 2, 2013

    Compost - if it is an established lawn, spread about 1/2" compost on top. It will works its way into the soil. Every year topdress with at least 1/4" - your lawn will feel softer and compost works to improve drainage, improve the soil, and add nutrients accessible to the grass. For beds, apply 1/2 to 1" but be careful around the trunks of the shrubs/trees - you don't want to mound up like a volcano. If you are installing a new bed, then till in 4" - 6" of compost before planting. I've done this for years to my lawn. One side benefit - no fire ants (where I live they are a scourge!). Good luck!

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Mar 2, 2013

    If the plants are in place and look healthy, Dee, perhaps the previous owner of your home made selections well-suited to the site and there is not much that you need to do. Clay soil has existed for millennia, and many plants have naturally adapted to grow in it. Truth be told, there is not much you can do to amend the soil without removing the plants first, but anything you can do to incorporate organic material into the soil--a top-dressing of compost, using a finely ground hardwood mulch--will help over time. Here's a comprehensive article from Fine Gardening that examines dealing with clay soil:

  • Lawn Pro
    on Mar 3, 2013

    between plants dig a hole, put topsoil in hole and backfill.on lawn core-aerate yard and spread compost on yard,compost will fill in the works great

  • H.C. Lawn
    on Mar 3, 2013

    1 Very important thing to know about clay soil don`t work it when wet it will dry out like cement . make little balls it is too wet . they cut it with sand here to make top soil

  • Gail Salminen
    on Mar 20, 2013

    @Dee Kuhlenberg , @Douglas Hunt gives excellent advice. Another blogger who has a post and blog on this may offer insight as well. @Empress of Dirt - Melissa has this post with a link to a blog as well. Let us know how it goes, and I m sure Douglas and Melissa will be pleased to answer your questions :)

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