The Q&A Archives: Working with and Amending Clay Soil

Question: I live in northern Nevada which is the high desert and I would like to conserve water with the plants I choose. However here is my problem: the soil here is mostly clay. I can find lots of drought tolerant plants that like well draining soils, but what do I do about my soil, besides amend it all? (I have a 1/3 acre.) Martha Henson Reno, NV

Answer: Amending soil is a long term process, if you continue to mix with compost, humus, leaf mold and a little sand eventually you will have a much looser soil. You should also check the pH and add gypsum to help break up the clay. Always have a soil test done first to determine what the nutrient levels are before adding more fertilizer. In clay soils raised beds can be a great help, you can limit watering directly to the plants.

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