how do I improve drainage in clay soil - Knowledgebase Question

rifle, co
Question by cranpear
September 3, 2017
I am planting shrubs that need good drainage and want to provide the proper drainage. How do I prepare the soil?

Name: J.R. Baca
Pueblo West Co. ( High Dessert (Zone 6a)
Answer from josebaca
September 3, 2017

1

Cranpear; hello from Pueblo! We're practically neighbors!
Moved out of town to P-dub where the soil is either shale or hardpan , I lucked out with hardpan, and can tell you that your soil is loaded with nearly all the essential macro and micro nutrients with the usual exception of nitrogen ,what it obviously lacks being clay is organic bio mass. In Florence Colorado, just 20 or so miles from me is a perlite processing plant, a fair drive for you but well worth the trip when you'll see the cost difference a local hardware store or brickyard will charge for 4 cut.ft. and living where you are shouldn't be too hard to find a rancher that is willing to let you take (at your own labor!) as much manure as you want.
Generally, 1 part manure or compost (depending on what the bushes will be used for, for example wind break, landscape or edibles) 2 part perlite and 3 parts soil. Once established an occasional topping of compost or rotted manure will keep them healthy and happy. A woodchip mulch wouldn't hurt either.
Depending on where you live and how hard you're willing to sweat, you could also gather gravel from around your property and use that in place of the perlite, but you would still require a lot of compost, manure or biomass.
Shoot me a tree-mail if you need to.
Good luck.
J.R.

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