Help! Need Easy Way to Amend GA Clay

blujayeJuly 31, 2013

Hi! My question is twofold...What perennials grow easily in GA red clay, which tends to be poorly draining soil? And, second, what is the EASIEST way to amend soil? I love gardening, but absolutely dread and detest spending so much time and pain trying to mix/amend soil for planting. I usually mix about 50% red clay with purchased "garden soil", mushroom compost, and maybe soil conditioner. Digging in the hard red clay is back breaking, and I feel I can't ever get it to break down enough when mixing so that it will be a rich, well drained soil. Thanks for any help you can provide!

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trovesoftrilliums(5)

Our yard has mostly compacted clay soil. I think when the house was original built 15 years ago, the builder removed and sold the topsoil leaving ghe clay subsoil. Apparently this is common here.
Anyways, I have been trying to ammend for 3 years with collected leaves, city compost and bales of peat we bought on a year end clearance (40 at $1 each).

The soil had improved minimally even in the areas of my most intense amending. The areas that are proving to have the best soil are ones where I edged the garden with 4 inch edgers and then raised up the garden level within the edgers. I put down 3 inches of peat and compost and then one inch of bagged topsoil.

I have given up on the worst parts and had someone come out today to talk about relocating the top 6 inches of the soil from where I would like new garden beds. Then we will get topsoil delivered and pick up loads of compost from the city landfill.

I really don't think there is an easy way. If you had access to rotted manure that could speed it up though.

You could look into sheet mulching. You need a lot of organic matter.
Good luck!

    Bookmark   August 1, 2013 at 11:34PM
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Janis_G(z7GA)

blujaye, I live in GA zone 7.
I took the lazy way out when it came to our clay soil.
Where ever I wanted to make a flower bed I brought in
truck loads of bark mulch. I mounded it up like you would to make a berm . I then bought bags of nature's helper grow mix, scooped
out a hole in the mulch poured in the nature's helper and planted my flowers, or whatever I had planned for that bed. Every year I would add mulch to the beds. The result was rich black dirt and
beautiful flowers.

Later on I bought a chipper shredder and when I wanted a good soil mix, I would put some bark through the shredder then add mushroom dirt, peat, etc mix it up and use that.

Good luck with your planting.
A fellow Georgian

    Bookmark   August 13, 2013 at 2:19PM
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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

We also have red clay here in Brazil. It is called laterite. My simple advice is: don't fight it, go with it. Have a look round in your neighbors' gardens and see what is doing well. If it's doing the trick for them it will for you too. One plant you may not encounter which has been a spectacular success for me has been New Guinea hybrid impatiens, sometimes called sunpatiens, a kind of busy lizzie, but it doesn't self-seed so will not become pestilential. A lot of people find it difficult as it prefers very moist soil. You may find it perfect, though it's best to plant in the spring. Good luck. Ian.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 10:10PM
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