How to Garden in Clay Soil

Though growing plants in clay soil can be a bit challenging, it is easily do-able.  Regardless how heavy your clay soil is, it is relatively easy to improve that soil for growing healthier, more beautiful plants.

Remember these tips when working with clay soil:

  • Walking on wet clay soil will compact it even further. If working in a large garden plot, like for a vegetable garden, lay some boards down to more evenly distribute your weight across the soil.
  • It is best to never dig or plant in the soil when it is wet.
  • Digging over a new garden (turning the soil & working in organic material) or adding mulch to an existing garden is best done in the early fall. If supplementing an existing plot, simply put 2” to 4” inches of organic material on top of the soil. It looks pretty, protects the roots of your plants during the winter and insects and microorganisms will work that mulch into the soil for you.
  • If preparing a garden plot for next year, work the soil into ridges over the winter at the same time as you add organic matter. This will allow the frost to break up some of those clumps.

Working sand into clay soil has often been recommended; however, it takes a ridiculous amount of sand to properly amend clay soil. Organic material, in the form of mulch, works much more economically, quickly and effectively. Click the links below to view, by variety, some of the top plants to grow in Clay Soil:

Top 5 Hardy Hibiscus Plants for Clay Soil

Top 5 Lantana Plants for Clay Soil

Top 5 Petunia Plants for Clay Soil

Top 5 Hosta Plants for Clay Soil

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  • Reply
    May 9, 2020 at 7:28 pm

    What do you consider “organic matter” to put over the clay?

    • Reply
      GrowJoy Plants
      September 7, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Lauren, some examples of organic matter are manure, lawn clippings (not chemically treated) granular bark mulch, peat moss, sawdust and compost. The trick is to mix it in really well, ultimately changing the composition of the soil.

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