Planning a garden in soil that is less than ideal can be tricky, especially if you are creating a xeriscape garden and have to put plants in clay soil. However, having the right information can make any garden a success, even in less than desirable soil.
Clay soil tends to have difficulty absorbing moisture and releasing it once its there. It is also slow to warm in the spring, shortening what may already be a limited growing season. The trick is to find the most suitable plants for the soil type, and amending the soil to be more hospitable to vegetation. You can easily plant your garden when you have the right information and materials.
Clay Hardy Plants
- Perennial Flax
- Wild Lilac
- Black-Eyed Susan
- New England Aster
- Heavenly Bamboo
- Oxeye Daisy
- Russian Sage
- Purple Coneflower
- Wild Cranesbill
- American Ferverfew
- Blackberry Lily
- Feather Reed Grass
Step 1: Get the Right Plants
Sometimes, just choosing the right plants is all you need to do. Local garden shops should carry a wide assortment of native plants for your area. All of the plants listed above grow well in clay soil and are very drought tolerant.
Step 2: Prepare the Soil
Soil that is heavy in clay can be amended by adding a variety of organic materials. Compost and manure are the most commonly used. Gypsum helps the clay particles become less dense, and that helps the soil absorb and drain water. The combination of the gypsum and compost will attract worms to the soil. Worms are natural aerators and the chemicals they leave behind add nutrients to the soil. Adding a little coarse sand or pea gravel will also help with drainage. Add the materials and mix in with the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
Step 3: Plant
Place plants in their most suitable environment, for example full sun or partial shade. Also consider watering requirements in plant placement. Plants requiring a great deal of water should be located closer to a watering source.
Step 4: Use an Organic Mulch
By using a generous amount of organic mulch around plants, they are protected from excessive moisture loss as well as extreme temperatures. As the mulch breaks down, more organic material is released into the soil, making it more healthy and tolerant.
Step 5: Determine the Best Watering Method
Depending on the plant and its individual requirements, determine the best method of watering. You have already placed the plant in the optimal spot for its needs, but now you must decide how you can best care for the plant. Some plants require very little water and can be hand watered. If there is a group of plants together with the same moisture requirements, you may want to use a sprinkler or a sprinkler system.
Step 6: Maintain Your Plants
It is important to keep weeds away from your plants, as they will leech out the nutrients and water the plant needs. Be sure to replace the mulch when it begins to decompose. This will ensure your plant stays healthy within its environment.