The Q&A Archives: Gardening In Heavy Clay Soil

Question: I have clay soil with a pH over 7.0. I want to plant an English garden style of plants. How should I prepare the soil for planting and how should I manage the soil over the years?

Answer: The best way to prepare soil for planting is to incorporate some peat moss and/or organic matter. Peat will lower the pH substantially. I usually spread 3"-4" of organic matter over the top of the soil and then dig it in to a depth of 6"-8". Plant, and then mulch over the top of the soil with additional organic matter. At the end of the growing season you can carefully dig the old organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer of organic matter over the surface of the soil. If you do this annually, you'll eventually have rich garden loam with a neutral pH. Good luck with your new garden bed!

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