Top Tips for Clay Soil

Clay soil can sometimes cause gardeners to groan in dismay. From personal experience, it can be a bit of a pain, but as most of my garden has heavy clay soil, so I’ve learnt to adapt.

Clay soil is made up of tiny particles, which compact really easily, especially if you’re tramping over the same patch time after time. It holds moisture well (sometimes too well), and is nutrient rich, ideal for plants that thrive in clay soil (keep scrolling for some ideas).

Clay Soil
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Granted, sometimes I wish my garden was free-draining and easy to dig over, but I wish I could win the lottery too, and you can’t have everything!

Similar to silt soil, it’s not very free draining, so when digging down, it’ll clump together and come out of the ground in clods. It also takes longer to warm up compared to soils such as sand.

How to Improve Clay Soil
Add sharp sand, horticultural grit and well-rotted organic matter. The sand and grit help to improve drainage, and the organic matter helps to increase the soil quality.

– When wet, try not to stand on the surface. This compacts the soil underneath, and makes it harder to dig over when you start planting.

– If you want to start planting early, start to dig over and add organic matter, grit and sand in Autumn or early winter. Because the soil will compact when wet, it helps to stay off it in the colder, wetter winter months.

My Top 5 plants for Clay soil

Clay Collage
Top Left: Buddleja, Bottom Left: Hosta, Middle: Astrantia, Top Right: Bergonia, Bottom Right:  Fuschia

Now these are just some of the plants that I have (the Buddleja, the Hosta and the Fuscia) in my garden at the moment, and they’re all flourishing in the clay soil.

You might not like them, but it gives you an idea of the different types of plants you can grow in your garden, given the right time, care and attention. Clay soil doesn’t have to be a burden, you just have to make it work for you.

What do you think? If you have clay soil in your garden, then I would love for you to share your own experience, including what plants you have that grow well too.

Please do tell me about your own experiences in the comments below, and share on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook so that everyone can see that clay soil isn’t the nightmare that some people think it is.


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