Improving drainage for plants in clay soil garden

Improving drainage for plants in clay soil garden

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JavaScript seems to be disabled in your browser. For the best experience on our site, be sure to turn on Javascript in your browser. Clay soil is made up mainly of clay particles. On the positive side, clay soils are rich in nutrients. On the other hand, they can be difficult to dig and poorly drained, becoming waterlogged when wet and then cracking as they dry out during extended dry periods.

  • Know Your Garden Soil: How to Make the Most of Your Soil Type
  • Luxury Home Gardening – How to Improve Soil Drainage
  • Soil Preparation
  • How To Boost Your Clay Soil Drainage
  • Getting the Right Planting Soil Mix for Edibles
  • How to: Working with clay soil
  • Healthy soil is easy
  • How to Improve Clay Soil in 6 Steps
  • How To Make Soil Drain Better (5 Ways To Fix Soggy Soil)
WATCH RELATED VIDEO: Amending Hard Clay Soil and Improving Drainage in Already Planted Beds

Know Your Garden Soil: How to Make the Most of Your Soil Type

Heavy clay soil quickly becomes waterlogged in wet weather, particularly in low-lying yards. Building raised beds, adding organic matter and growing cover crops alleviate the problem to an extent. However, if you want to preserve your vegetable patch, garden trees, flowerbeds or lawn, sometimes, the only effective option is to install drainage. Standing water, consistently soggy soil and bad odors are some characteristics typical of poorly drained yards. In very badly drained yards, water may sit on the surface for most of the year.

But if water does eventually drain from your yard, the problem may not be as bad as you think. Before going to the major step of installing drainage, assess the extent of the drainage problem. If water remains in the hole after 12 hours in total, the drainage in your yard is poor. A hole that drains within three hours is an indicator of good drainage, and if the hole drains within 3 to 9 hours, most landscape plants should grow in your yard.

On the other hand, you may have been mistaken about which part of your yard is not draining well. Repeat the experiment in other spots if this may be the case. Not all poor drainage in yards is due to heavy clay soil.

The yards of new construction homes sometimes contain very little topsoil to absorb rainwater, and water pools on the subsoil. These new yards may also be compacted due to the movement of heavy construction equipment. Additionally, the yard may be badly shaped, providing nowhere for runoff to exit the property.

Clay soils hold on to water , which fills the pore spaces between the clay particles and excludes the air that plant roots need. Clay is rich in plant nutrients, and its water-holding capacity benefits plants when the poor drainage problem is brought under control.

Examining your soil is informative. Dig up a handful of soil with a garden trowel and squeeze it into a ball. A heavy clay soil feels smooth and sticky and is easy to mold. A soil test at your local university agricultural extension office can tell you the detailed composition of your soil as well as its nutrient content.

Follow the recommendations for soil supplements given in the test results to improve the condition of your soil and the health of your yard over time. Growing in raised beds is sometimes the simplest solution. Adding plenty of organic matter also helps with drainage by improving soil structure and water infiltration. Spread a layer of compost, leaf mold, or aged manure 3 to 4 inches deep over your planting beds in fall or spring, and dig the organic matter in to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Alternatively, spread a mulch of wood chips, sawdust or bark chippings on the soil surface, and they will eventually disappear into the soil naturally.

Growing cover crops helps to improve drainage in heavy clay. Cover crops are plants that are grown to improve the soil condition by increasing the proportion of decaying plant material.

Borage Borago officinalis , and timothy hay Phleum pratense , hardy in U. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, are two cover crops that can be sown in fall and dug into the soil in spring. This chemical compound disperses the high levels of sodium present in some clay soils, which makes the soil more permeable to water.

Apply gypsum to your soil when the surface has dried out somewhat and is workable with a garden fork. Spread 1 pound of gypsum per 5 square feet and lightly mix it into the top 2 or 3 inches of soil.Rainfall and irrigation gradually wash gypsum out of soil, so the effects are temporary. Supplement gypsum applications with other methods of cultural management to improve drainage in clay soil.

When it comes to tackling waterlogging in a yard, a permanent fix may be the best solution. The options include installing an underground drainage pipe or installing a French drain. Before you decide which solution to try, draw a drainage plan of your yard.

An underground drainage pipe effectively transfers water from the lowest point of your yard to an outlet. Check with your local government office about relevant regulations before building a drainage pipe that discharges into a storm drain or the street. Install an inlet catch basin at the center of the lowest point and attach it to a smooth drainpipe that runs all the way to the outlet before filling in the trench with soil. A French drain is a gravel-filled underground tunnel that contains a perforated pipe.

Dig a trench 18 inches deep, and fill the bottom 6 inches with gravel. Cover a perforated pipe with a specialized fabric sock to prevent dirt from clogging it, and lay the pipe on the gravel. Pour more gravel over the pipe, and, finally, fill in the rest of the trench with the excavated soil. A graduate of Leeds University, Jenny Green completed Master of Arts in English literature in and has been writing about gardening and homes sinceGreen's work appears in SFGate, Mom.

By Jenny Green Updated October 08,Related Articles. 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 water collects. Pour water into the hole until it fills to the brim. Check the hole after 3 hours to see how much water has drained away. If water remains in the hole after 3 hours, wait another 9 hours and check the hole again. Three-fourths-minus gravel includes gravel pieces of different sizes and shapes, designed to lock together so they aren't washed away.

You can substitute decorative rocks for the top of the trench, if desired, but you will have to rake the rocks back into place after hard storms. Before digging, have area checked and marked for underground utilities.

Luxury Home Gardening – How to Improve Soil Drainage

Clay soils are rich in nutrients, but if the soil is too acidic or too alkaline, those nutrients won't be available to the plants. Use a home test kit or send a sample to a soil testing lab, then follow the recommendations for adjusting pH. For most garden plants, a pH of 6. Find a lab near you by checking in your telephone directory, or by calling your local cooperative extension office. This helps improve drainage and lighten heavy soil. It also provides nutrients for beneficial soil microorganisms which will, in turn, also help improve the soil. Before planting in spring, add compost and aged manure.

Raising up an area of soil when planting trees and shrubs, before you plant, improves drainage. Find everything from BBQ accessories to garden.

Soil Preparation

Soil drainage is important for long term plant health, at least as important as pruning, mulching, and fertilizing. Locating a plant that likes well-drained soil in a soggy area is an invitation to disaster. Plant roots must be able to breathe air as well as absorb nutrients from the soil. They thrive on oxygen, which they get from air filling the spaces between soil particles. In poorly-drained soils, water displaces air, and roots suffocate as a result. Each plant has a different capacity to deal with lack of oxygen, but as a general rule, poor drainage kills plants. In addition, disease-causing fungi grow well in soggy soils, making plants with wet feet far more susceptible to fungal root diseases. Depending on soil structure, different amendments are recommended to improve drainage. In clay soils, soil particles are extremely close together with few air spaces.

How To Boost Your Clay Soil Drainage

The British climate can throw a variety of types of weather at us from the Atlantic, sometimes bringing large amounts of rainfall. Many gardens in the UK suffer from poor drainage, so if your garden is one of them, rest assured, you are not alone. During the winter months things can be particularly bad. The past few years have seen milder winters here in the UK, but also an increase in rainfall. In recent times, there has been a sharp increase in the number of homeowners converting gardens into paved areas for driveways and patios.

By on. People struggle with clay soil and try all kinds of quick fixes including gypsum which is regularly touted as as a clay buster, but does it really work?

Getting the Right Planting Soil Mix for Edibles

When you wrestle with heavy, compacted clay in your lawn and garden, your body and your plants can show the strain. But don't despair.Clay soil offers many benefits, but it can need a hand to reach its potential. Healthy, well-maintained clay soil translates to less work for you and less stress on your lawn and garden. With these insights and a little effort, you can fix your heavy clay soil and reap its rewards:. Clay's potential as one of the best soil types for plant growth lies in its unique properties.

How to: Working with clay soil

News, tricks, tips, tutorials on everything related to the famous flower terracotta containers. What Is Clay Soil? Soil usually gets labeled based on which of these particles is the dominant one. They tend to stay separate, rather than sticking together, and provide excellent drainage and aeration because of this. Clay — Clay particles are the smallest of the three and have a plate-like shape. They easily stick together and layer on top of each other, much like a stack of plates. This means clay can have drainage and aeration problems but is excellent at holding onto nutrients.

Ways to help soil drain better, prevent plants sitting in water for My neighbours tell me that our gardens stand on land once used to.

Healthy soil is easy

Contact your local county Extension office through our County Office List. Print this fact sheet. A soil amendment is any material added to a soil to improve its physical properties, such as water retention, permeability, water infiltration, drainage, aeration and structure.

How to Improve Clay Soil in 6 Steps

RELATED VIDEO: How Do I Improve Heavy Clay Soil in the Garden?

The trouble with clay soil is that it doesn't just hold onto nutrients. It holds onto water too meaning, if you have clay soil, you are likely to have poor drainage. This ability to hold onto water makes clay soil swell up during periods of heavy rainfall and then, in summer, it shrinks, leaving your soil cracked and parched. On top of this, clay soil likes to hold onto weeds. It seems unusually attached to them.

As well as improving the organic structure of your soil, you can remedy drainage by digging a trench that directs the water away from your garden bed and channels it to a hole in the ground, called a soakway, which is filled with gravel and stones. The soakway should be at the lowest point of your garden and always more than 5m from your house.

How To Make Soil Drain Better (5 Ways To Fix Soggy Soil)

Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume. Autumn is the best time to prepare soil for planting. Good soil preparation makes or breaks the garden. It improves the water-holding capacity of the soil and for plants that means the garden is more able to withstand water restrictions and anything else nature throws at it. Generally soil can be classified into three groups - clay, loam and sand. To determine your soil type, just dig down about 10 centimetres and grab a handful of soil.

Wayne K. Preparation for planting is the key to success in establishing landscape plants. Site analysis and proper planting assure rapid plant establishment and healthy growth, provided environmental factors are favorable Investigate surface and internal water drainage in the landscape. Check for areas where water collects, drains slowly or stands for long periods.


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