Clay Soil? Tips For Planting Trees, Shrubs, And Gardens In This Tough Terrain

Posted on: 30 August 2016

If you live in an area where the soil quality doesn't seem conducive to plants, trees, and shrubs, you may be able to counter this with proper planting techniques. Some soil may seem more like clay, especially in some parts of the southern United States, which makes it tough to till and even harder to help plants thrive and survive. Before you throw in the towel, consider some specific suggestions that could help hardy plants grow and prosper, even in clay soil. 

Some tips for planting successfully in clay soil include: 

Opt for container gardens. You can save yourself a lot of headache by opting to plant container gardens around your property. Fill the bottom of your vessels with rocks for proper drainage and enjoy fresh flowers, herbs, and even vegetables all around your property! These are easy to take care of, too, as you have the ability to move the containers and pots to catch the sun, get out of the wind, or water with rain. 

Don't dig deep. When you are working with clay soil, it is important not to plant anything too deeply, especially when it comes to trees and shrubs. Plant your saplings and seedlings so that they sit around one-to-two-inches above the soil.

Loosen the soil. Loosen the soil around your plant a bit wider than the actual root ball of the plant that you are starting. Use a spade or rake or tiller to loosen the clay soil before you set in your tree, shrub, or plant.

Create back fill. Surround your plant or tree roots with back fill made of the existing loosened soil and about one-third of compost or rich potting soil mix. This will help the plant adapt to the clay soil and provide a better chance for it to thrive.

Use mulch. When you are done planting, use mulch to cover and protect your plants and trees, but don't let it cover the trunk of your young trees and saplings. Use around two-inches of mulch, and reapply each year to keep the soil surrounding your seedlings moist and cool. Plus, mulch helps to prevent weeds!

Don't forget the stakes. If you are planting young trees in your clay soil, use stakes for the first year of their life. This will protect the young roots from being disturbed or damaged during weather and wind.

Water is everything. Clay soil requires water to prevent your plants from drying out. It is recommended with this type of soil that you saturate and soak the plants a couple times per week for the first month, and then once a week after. Watering infrequently, but paying attention to deeply soak the plant's roots will encourage growth and hardy roots.

Use these tips when planting your seedlings, shrubs, and trees in clay soil. Combine proper planting techniques with deep, infrequent watering to create hardy foliage that thrives and survives in this tough clay soil terrain. Consider adapting to container gardens for easy-to-care for plants in any soil conditions!