Dealing with clay soil in San Diego

aztecAugust 10, 2010

I am landscaping a 1.5 acre lot in Olivenhain (inland San Diego, next to Rancho Santa Fe). The lot is half cut, half fill (from the cut). In the winter, it's clay muck. In the summer, it's dusty light brown stuff. Haven't had it tested.

We want to plant things like olives, canary palms (on a slope), and other more typical large green/screen trees that we need to grow FAST. For a huge hedge, we're thinking privets. And then for decoration, everything from bouganvilla to camelia and gardenias, etc.

But I've noticed that trees don't seem to do to well there. Some are great, but very few. Peppers seems to be hit/miss. And there's a section where literally nothing grows (also a slope).

How can we get our soil tested? And are we headed for $100K of heartache when everything we like dies off from the soil?

Thanks for your thoughts.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Suggest you phone your county's UC Extension Service office to determine what plants are appropriate for your soil & climate.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 12:09AM
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gypsum is excellent to recondition clay. it will hold the particles together, creating air pockets in the soil, which plants need. my soil is on heavy, sticky, gumbo clay in the south, and gypsum did wonders. it became a crumbly clay. i can pretty much grow anything i want now. of course you also want to add lots of organics, but gypsum first to get the correct structure

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 4:47PM
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aimeekitty(9-10, SW 18)

you can get a very basic soil test kit from Lowes or your local nursery, etc. If your soil is heavily alkaline you should probably avoid Gardenias unless you want to keep having to treat/amend the soil.

you can also go to your local GOOD nursery and ask them how various plants do in your area.

    Bookmark   August 25, 2010 at 5:06PM
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