Suggestions on how to improve clay soil - this entry is extracted fro

caliloo(z6/7)January 1, 2013

I had clay at my last house...everywhere. Really makes you appreciate nice black soil. This may be a long post, but I have a lot to say. In hindsight...and my main bit of advice to you...I should have spent 3-5 years (or however many years it would take) amending the soil before planting (anything, not just hosta)...and I should have spent the time, $$, and effort to amend the ENTIRE planting bed, OR...raise the beds way up high with good soil. Here was my big mistake...I only amended the hosta holes just where the planting hole was. I tried to go farther out & when I did it wasn't very far...a few inches maybe. Digging the bare minimum hole in clay was hard enough, ya know?...AND...hostas grow on the driveway, right? Growing on the driveway would be easier than in clay IMO. If the clay had any workability, I would throw away the clay chunks and mix anything workable with compost. The clay easily 'ate up' the compost, so in a year some of the hostas would sink down into their clay holes and have to be lifted due to not enough soil. Because of this, "tending" to my hostas did not mean walking around & enjoying the plants. It meant regularly monitoring the health of the plant, and digging/replanting. When I dug up and re-planted it meant amending the soil all over again. Spent a lot of money on bagged compost because I couldn't make enough to keep up. If I would have dug a huge honkin' hole & amended really far out from the hosta, I think I would have had a few less worries. Doing it the way I did, my hosta were more susceptible to squirrels and other surface-digging pests. Everything was clay and it was hard. Come up to a hosta...softer & squishier soil than everywhere else...you bet they are going to dig right there. Root sections would be exposed and/or displaced to the surface. Squirrels would plant walnut and buckeye seeds within inches of the crowns. I'd dig out walnut shells regularly. Disturbing roots is always a setback to some capacity. When I dug out a hosta and some roots made their way out of it's amended hole and into the clay, consider the new roots 'goners'. Soil was too hard & sticky to allow roots to release with the rest of the plant. The clay was so hard to dig, that attempts to excavate the new roots in the clay were not even worth it. The water issue was not pleasant. Because I dug out clay in plant spots only, visualize the planting bed like a muffin baking pan. Where does the water go when you pour it on top of the muffin pan?...it spreads and lands in the divots. Once the water was in the divots, it would disperse into the surrounding clay, but pretty slow. I was on constant watch for root rot because of that and lost a few. I also learned that I had to regularly water the entire planting beds and keep the clay lightly moist at all times. I had a moisture meter, and I was constantly digging experimental holes to see what the moisture was like below the surface. When clay dries out it's like a...

Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Ultimate 100 Hosta as of Dec 2005
This is a list compiled by Shade Tolerant from the...
caliloo
Ultimate 100 Hosta as of Dec 2005
This is a list compiled by Shade Tolerant from the...
caliloo
Hosta naming conventions
A hosta by any other name... might still smell as sweet... but...
caliloo
Hosta size categories
Definition: Based on HEIGHT of the hosta Mini when...
caliloo
Why is my hosta underperforming?
hosta that are out of the orinarily slow may be planted...
caliloo
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™