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Hard soil help suggestions?

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  • Hard soil help suggestions?

    Hi Everyone,

    I just received a new Japanese Maple for my birthday and was anxious to get it in the ground a couple of days ago. My DH and I just bought our first home at the end of June and I hadn't done much gardening in the area I wanted it planted.

    When I started cutting the sod off I got about 1/2 in. into the ground before I was stopped. Here I was bouncing up and down on a spade until hubby felt sorry for me (I'm sure it was funny to watch) and came outside.

    Apparently we have very hard clay soil in the front yard. Now I don't know what to do about it. I could make a raised bed but that would require more stone to support the soil and I really wanted it where I chose.

    Is there anything that can be done to breakup the clay so my little tree will thrive? They have shallow roots but as hard as the soil is water won't drain well either.

    Help!
    Do not dwell in the past,
    do not dream of the future,
    concentrate the mind on the present moment.

    -Lord Buddha

  • Try a tiller. They're a bit pricey, so see if any of your neighbors have one. It'll cut right into the soil and churn it up ... but depending on what kind of soil a Japanese Maple takes, you may want to mix it with some bagged soil.
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    • Thanks Little. I didn't think of that at all.
      I'll probably add some bagged topsoil and though we've started a compost bin in the backyard, it hasn't had time to compost yet so I'll add some of that too. I'm just afraid as it gets hot again that the clay may harden back up and cause problems in the future.
      Do not dwell in the past,
      do not dream of the future,
      concentrate the mind on the present moment.

      -Lord Buddha

      Comment


      • Slightly different question

        Does anyone know of a way to generally increase the drainage of soil? Most of our front lawn is sod over compacted clay. Will fertilizing and aerating help it loosen up?
        Do not dwell in the past,
        do not dream of the future,
        concentrate the mind on the present moment.

        -Lord Buddha

        Comment


        • I live in the land of clay soil. We could supply the world pottery industry. You don't want to add sand, after all concrete or adobe are what mixture? Organic material is what you need and lots of it. Compost is really good way to go and tilling it in can be good. Gardening in the clay west, you should triple dig and work in a ton of compost, then till to break it up and get it well mixed - then you can plant. A little compost just won't do it because when the roots spread they will hit the clay. It's a good workout.

          Comment


          • I know this an older post, but...
            Anytime you have hard soil, buy a bag of peat, mix it together with the soil you have or purchased bags of soil. I usually
            divide 4 parts soil to 1 part peat, but it depends on your soil... If you have a plant that needs a higher acid content, add more peat...Just make sure it is mixed together well. The plants soil is not compacted as much, and allows air and moisture to get to the roots..
            [COLOR=purple][FONT=Comic Sans MS][COLOR=blue][/COLOR][/FONT][/COLOR]

            Comment


            • Many plants do not grow good if the roots are in water. If you build the soil in a flat topped mound, it should elevate the plants enough to keep them out of the water. Make sure that the surrounding area has drainage so this mound does not become an island. If you get excessive rains or very hot sun consider sheltering it from those. Since it is elevated, it will probably need watering a bit more than normal. Adding soil conditioners such as sphagnum moss (peat moss) to make the soil less compact. Consider making a compost pile where the smell wont matter and put all of your vegetative wastes in it (ones that will break down - leaves are OK but branches take years to break down). In a year you will have a natural soil conditioner that is also a natural fertilizer.
              I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.
              ...
              Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

              From a speech by Patrick Henry on March 23, 1775 at St. John's Church, Richmond, Virginia

              Comment

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