The Q&A Archives: soil mixed with clay

Question: The dirt in my yard is mixed with clay and my flowers don't grow like I want them to.

How do I fix it?

Answer: Improving clay soil takes a while, but the results are worth the work and the wait. Start small - a flower bed, for instance, and then work around the yard as time and energy permits. To improve clay soil you'll want to amend it with organic matter. Remove everything in the bed and spread a 4-5" layer of organic matter over the top of the bed (use compost, shredded leaves, aged-manure, etc.), and dig it in to a depth of 8-10". Then rake the bed smooth and plant your plants. When you've finished planting, spread another inch or two of organic matter over the bare soil. This mulch will help suppress weeds, slow water evaporation and provide nutrients to the soil as it decomposes. At the end of the growing season dig the organic matter into the soil and replace it with fresh organic matter. After a few seasons of digging the mulch into the soil, you'll have rich garden loam instead of clay soil.

Best wishes with your landscape!

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