Where Can I Find Clay Soil – Everyone has heard of clay soil, but do you really know what it is? If your garden beds are clay, here’s what you need to know – and it’s not all bad.
If you intend to create a home garden and find that your intended plot has clay soil, you can assume that your garden is extremely limited. Clay soil is often considered the enemy. It is difficult to work with, difficult to grow and a death sentence for many plants.
Where Can I Find Clay Soil
And while a lot of clay soil gets a deserved bad rap, the reality isn’t entirely black and white. With the right approach, you can work with clay soil, take advantage of its benefits and entice it to help you create a thriving home garden.
How To Improve Clay Soil In Your Yard Or Garden
Clay soils are old, tightly packed soils that have formed and condensed over long periods of time. They are found all over the world, including in most parts of the United States. One sure way to recognize clay soil is if water sits after a rain, or if your soil is sticky.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s soil triangle, soil is considered clay if it contains 40 to 100 percent clay. The clay particles are small. They pack tightly, stick together and squeeze out the air channels that plants and microbes need to survive.
“Because [clay soils] are really good at retaining moisture, they can easily become waterlogged and stay too wet for too long in rainy weather or if too much supplemental water is added,” says Sam Schmitz, horticulturist at Ball Horticulture. . That density and poor drainage can lead to some of these problems:
However, clay soil is not all bad. Once you understand the difficulty of working with it, the density of clay soil provides a stable environment with few surprises. Here are some reasons to ditch your clay soil:
Native Plants For Clay Soil
After thirty years answering garden questions on radio in Alberta, Canada, three seasons as a TV host on HGTV’s internationally broadcast Bugs & Blooms show, and twenty years of gardening writing, horticulturist Donna Balzer has amassed a wealth of gardening information and experience. Speaker, writer and gardener, Donna started with a degree in Horticulture. Now she has a huge vegetable garden and greenhouses where she grows food and flowers all year round. Donna grows anything she dreams of, builds soil and eats healthy home-cooked meals every day in her Northern garden.
We no longer support IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide websites for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. Before you start planting anything in the ground, you need to take the time to determine what type of soil you want. have Many gardeners (and people in general) live in areas where the soil has a high clay content. Clay soil is also often referred to as heavy soil.
One of the easiest things to note is how your soil performs in both wet and dry periods. If you have noticed that your garden is still wet, even flooded, for a few hours or even days after heavy rains, you may have a problem with clay soil.
On the other hand, if you have noticed that after extended periods of dry weather, the soil in your garden tends to crack, this is another sign that the soil in your yard may have a high clay content.
Gardening In Red Clay Soil? You’re Better Off Than You Think
Something else to note is what types of weeds are growing in your yard. Weeds that grow very well in clay soil include:
If you are having problems with these weeds in your garden, this is another sign that you may have clay soil.
If you feel that your garden has one of these signs and you think you have clay soil, you can try some simple tests on it.
The easiest and most low-tech test is to take a handful of wet soil (it’s best to do this a day or so after it’s rained or you’ve watered the area) and squeeze it in your hand. If the soil falls apart when you open your hand, then you have sandy soil and clay is not the problem. If the soil sticks together and then falls apart when you stick it, then your soil is in good condition. If the soil remains compact and does not fall apart when pressed, you have clay soil.
Starting A Garden In Clay Soil: Step By Step Guide
If youare still not sure if you have clay soil, it may be best to take a sample of your soil to your local extension service or a high-quality, reputable nursery. Someone there will be able to tell if your soil is clay or not.
If you find that your soil has a high clay content, do not despair. With a little work and time, clay soils can be remedied. The prospect of gardening in thick, back-breaking clay soil is enough to put off even the most enthusiastic gardeners.
But that’s because they don’t know the unique potential of clay soil. Trapped in the awkward layers and paste-like consistency rest the most beneficial nutrients for flowering plants, trees, vegetables, shrubs and much more.
This silver lining of hidden fertility is worth amending and improving clay soils for thriving growth. In fact, there are several methods you can use to improve clay soils and exploit this trapped potential.
Clay Soil Pros And Cons: How To Improve Clay Soil
In this article, we’ll show you how to test your soil for clay content, how to work with heavy clay soil, and how to improve clay soil structure to grow the best garden around.
Many people look at their soil and see a layer of dark, moist dirt sitting on top of their plant beds. They assume that this type of soil runs all the way down. But this is only the humus, and maybe even the topsoil.
Make up This is the subsoil layer where levels of sand, silt and clay lie. This is also the layer you will test to determine if you have clay soil or not and in what concentrations.
Soil science deserves a deeper look. It consists of only two materials: organic material and minerals. Organic material is either dead, such as decaying leaves and roots, or living, such as earthworms, fungi and important bacteria.
Ask The Master Gardener
Geologists classify soils based on the composition of mineral ratios. The ideal soil—one that’s easy to work with, has excellent drainage, and supports a variety of plants with more delicate roots like perennials—is clay soil. It is 40% sand, 40% silt and 20% clay.
It is when you change these percentages – for example by increasing the concentration of clay in the soil structure – that you get a clayey soil.
When people hear that clay soils are the most ideal, they immediately see the other soil types as less desirable offshoots of this preferred type. But that is not the case at all – each of the six types of soil has its own advantages and disadvantages. They will each support different types of plants.
Sandy soil, for example, drains very quickly, so you are unlikely to be affected by pools and swelling. Salt in soil holds water much better. And, of course, clay in the soil holds water the best because the molecules are trapped between the clay particles and
Dishing The Dirt On Clay Soil
Heavy clay particles tend to stay moist, which is great if you’re ever hit by dry conditions. But their beautiful structure compact very easily and quickly. These soil particles also provide very little air space for roots to reach, which is part of the reason why they are difficult for certain plant species.
All these “side effects” of clay soils come from one outstanding property: the density of the particles. Heavy clay soils are dense. This means, before you improve and amend your soil, you have to actually dig it up.
The beauty of soil with clay material is that its “weakness” is also its strength. Its density means that soil clay holds both moisture
To improve the composition of soil clay, you must use special amendments to transform it into a garden soil that can support plants season after season.
Best Fertilizers For Clay Soil
For example, the nutrients must be penetrated with clay soil. So you can take advantage of these nutrients by using slow-release mineral fertilizers, including rock phosphate and calcium sulfate, to build soil fertility. In addition, calcium sulfate helps loosen the tight texture of clay.
There are quite a few ways to test your garden soil for clay. An easy soil test is to dig a little after a rain and check the texture yourself.
If you pile up the soil and then knead it between your fingers, a flat ribbon more than two centimeters long is a clear sign that you have clay in your soil.
A ratio of 55% (or more) clay and anywhere between 10% to 40% silt indicates that you have clay soil.
Improving Clay Soil
In total, the six soil types are spread across every region in the United States. You can expect a combination of these in different regions. Clay soil, for example, makes a significant appearance in northeastern states, but it is not limited to this region.
Water plays a role in the composition of the soil. In desert-like, southwestern states, for example, you can expect mainly sandy soils.
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