Deborah R
Deborah R
  • Hometalker
  • Lafayette, IN
Asked on Apr 6, 2012

I have clay soil. What do I do to prep it for planting? What type of plants grow well in clay soil?

Debbie / Dragonfly TreasureDouglas HuntSharron W
+6

Answered

9 answers
  • 3po3
    on Apr 6, 2012

    I feel your pain. We have terrible soil out here. The good news is that you can amend your soil to grow virtually anything that suits your climate. I'll tell you what I tell almost everybody who asks about their soil: get a soil test through your local Cooperative Extension folks. It's well worth the time and money. You might even do a couple of tests if you have an area where you want to grow vegetables and an area for flowers, for example. They will tell you what is going on with your soil, and what to add for optimal growth.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 7, 2012

    Among the perennials that do well in clay soil, Deborah, are coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, daisies and coreopsis. For trees and shrubs, see this link from the University of Minnesota Extension Service: http://www.extension.umn.edu/yardandgarden/ygbriefs/h408claysoil.html

  • Melissa G
    on Apr 7, 2012

    Deborah, we have bush roses growing in our clay-ish soil. They were here when we bought the house. I was told by someone at our local plant nursery that they can do well in clay... perhaps another expert can weigh in.

  • Rebecca B
    on Apr 8, 2012

    I live in Missouri with heavy clay soil. I suggest looking for native plants. I think my favorite family of shrubs are Ninebarks. They are easy to grow very low maint. and bloom profusely. Butterflies just love them.

  • Douglas Hunt
    on Apr 8, 2012

    Rebecca's idea to look to native plants for inspiration is a very good one. They've learned to adapt to your soil over a long time.

  • Dig deep and turn in LOTS of humus material. Alfalfa makes a good first crop, as the roots can burrow deep to break up the underlying structure, and it is a good nitrogen fixer. So I add compost, wood shavings, and work that in, then plant alfalfa first year, tilling that in as well as a sheet compost. Another method for some is the no-till method of adding straw yearly. I think Ruth Stout is the progeniitor of this method and has a book out on it

  • Sharron W
    on May 29, 2012

    I have composted for years to amend our clay soil and the favorite thing for the earthworms is the coffee grounds, tea leaves,egg shells, grass clippings and of course the leaves we rake in the fall...but if it ever grew from the ground and we eat it....I compost the scraps..I have two 4'x4'x4' chicken wire bins, one for "active" (I'm adding to it) and one for "useage" (I'm digging it out and putting it to use) they alternate of course as one gets full or the other emptied....

  • Douglas Hunt
    on May 29, 2012

    Way to go, Sharron!

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