Asked on Jul 07, 2014

Tilling rocky compacted clay yard

by N'neka
I had my wooded backyard cleared of all the small trees, ivy and brush. I want to till it so it will be suitable for planting, but there are a lot of rocks and some small stumps. Plus I have the typical hard GA clay. Can a tiller handle that? If not what would do the job?
  7 answers
  • Donna Byram Donna Byram on Jul 07, 2014
    As many rocks as there seems to be in the pictures, it would be hard to till. I would try digging a hole first and see if the rock is below the surface too. If so, tilling will be hard to do. If they are just surface rock, I would try and rake up as many as I could then till. You may be better off just digging holes bigger than you need, then put potting soil in the holes before planting and then mulch. Looks like a lot of hard work for you. Good luck.
  • Katie Price Katie Price on Jul 08, 2014
    You didn't mention how many large trees you have. You don't want to damage the roots of large trees with tilling. Considering roots and rocks, your best method is to put down a couple of inches of good top soil (no more than 2") and then amend the soil in large holes you dig for individual plants. Dig as wide a hole as you can. Plants' roots grow a lot more out than down, and in clay soil you want the roots to be able to spread easily to get established.
  • Sharon Carson Dunham Sharon Carson Dunham on Jul 08, 2014
    Lived in Alabama for 17 years....hard clay soil. I dug very large holes, (a lot of work!) amended the soil, and planted. Everything did really well. Only other option I can come up with is to hire....and yes, do put in some good top soil!
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Jul 08, 2014
    You might want to check out this article from Fine Gardening about improving clay soils:
    • Katie Katie on Jul 08, 2014
      @Douglas Hunt Really good article, Douglas. Thank you for suggesting it
  • Terra Gazelle Terra Gazelle on Jul 12, 2015
    My back yard is like this..I decided to take the small portion of it closest to the house..brick it over and use large pots for my plants. My son is making me an over sized oblong planting box that will edge the brick patio. That part of the yard was just weeds..the ground was so compacted that that was all that would grow. So i think this is the best solution for me. I happen to have a lot of used brick so it will be the cheapest idea also.
  • Kernel Kernel on Sep 21, 2020

    You can read this article from GardenFunction to know about breaking the clay soil of your garden.

    You need to use Rototiller for rocky soil.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Nov 23, 2021

    Had you considered using raised Beds, and adding soil in to them, no digging just planting!