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15 messages
05/04/2013 at 20:41
Anyone got any top tips. I have 1 ft wide boarders and I want to widen them. They already have perennials popping up and bulbs. Do I dig out and replace the clay at the front of the boarder. How do I improve the soil in the existing boarders?? I can't dig more stuff in as it will pick up the soil height and rot my fence. I can't dig out as I have plants in that I put in last year. I improved it when I planted but now its as heavy as ever again!
05/04/2013 at 20:57

It takes years to alter soil if it can be done at all. Just keep piling on the compost and grit. Keep it away from the fence, that will be easier when the border is more than a foot wide.

05/04/2013 at 21:41
It's Also the cost. I spent a fortune on compost last year! I could turn the soil nicely but after overwintering I tried to plant some polyanthus and the soil was sooo heavy and claggy. I ended up digging a hole and replanting my bedding with compost!

Wondering if I should dig out the front of the border to widen. Then scrape clay soil from back into new hole at front then top up wil new soil/compost. Think that would help??
05/04/2013 at 21:49

Should help Red. Polyanthus don't mind sticky soil though do they. Don't seem to anyway. Id choose plants that like this sort of soil, something a bit substantial with roots that go well into the soil. Keep improving it as much as you can though. 

05/04/2013 at 21:56

What's in front of the border at the moment? If it's lawn you can dig this up, pile it up somewhere upside down and cover it so it rots down (6 months or more) and you can then use it as top soil.

Your borders need to be as deep as possible - 3ft is good and 6ft! is even better. You will probably find your perennials flopping over the front in just 1ft borders.

As nutcutlet says it's not easy improving clay soil - I know as I've also got it and lots of compost, leaf mould, well-rotted manure and horticultural grit (which has been washed) helps a lot.

05/04/2013 at 22:05
My borders can't be too deep as hardly have any lawn left. See my other post calked my garden pictures. If only I had room to make compost. It's just hard work turning clay, abs it cracks so badly in summer!!
05/04/2013 at 22:48
Red dahlia, as nut says, plant things that will like your soil.....ferns, astilbes, hostas, acorus, carex, astrantias, aconitum etc
The soil is still craggy because it's cold n wet.
Not sure compost s the answer now.....cheap grit mixed into the soil before planting and then more added to each planting hole. ,
Try not to get too anxious right now
Do you know anyone who can give you a clump or two of any of the plants mentioned to give you a stsrt? I often give away large clumps of plants when I divide my stocks so maybe near you???
05/04/2013 at 23:05

I mulch my clay areas with the product of the shredder. It holds the moisture in summer and avoids some of the cracking. If the soil does crack the shreddings fall down the holes and roots aren't exposed.

05/04/2013 at 23:07
I bought an astilbe last year as was wind blown abs it recovered well. As yet it doesn't seem to have come to life! Bit worried really most of my plants are showing some like at the base. Still alive and in my back birder around the pergola are...

Lupin
Stokesia
Gayser
Hollyhock
Rudbeckia green wizard
Lobelia
Coreopsis
Verbena
Scabiosa
Delphinium

Not seeing any life from my platycodon (balloon flowers), gaillardia, echinacea, lliatris!

I'm in the south kesteven district area!

I purchased 2x 72L truffles tubs today to stand on my decking with an obelisk in each to grown my sugarsnap peas up.
05/04/2013 at 23:16
Red dahlia a lot of those plants like good drainage ...in any case most plants anywhere north of here will not be showing growth yet
Like the sound of those tubs. The sugar snap peas are luscious
06/04/2013 at 00:08
Never grown them before but thought it worth a go! Will set them tomorrow I think. Love poundstretcher!!! Bargains to be had!!!
06/04/2013 at 08:21
Red dahlia, my soil is total opposite to yours....when planting I do so a bit deeper to enable better water retention. In your case plantIng slightly.....slightly...higher, on slight mound would probably be better.
However, clay soil can be very good soil eventually so every year just improve by adding compost, grit. etc
06/04/2013 at 09:16

I have heavy clay - the hellebores are loving it. I found some stuff called 'soil improver' that's pretty cheap, made from recycled garden waste, and well rotted manure can be obtained inexpensively. You could try applying it as a mulch round the base of the plants to keep it from the edges, but building up the height of the bed will improve drainage.

I am a novice and still learning but I have one piece of advice - avoid adding sand. We've just cleared a patio and gravelled area that had been levelled with sand and some parts had turned into something concrete - like!

06/04/2013 at 09:28

RD - I've also have clay in every garden I've had and I know what you mean about the cost of improving it especially if you don't have room to make your own compost. Lots of councils offer compost at a good rate though so maybe it's worth a call? As mentioned already growing plants that like the soil is the best option really. I did this and then, as the soil improved over time, I added other plants that I liked which needed slightly different conditions. Have you thought of raising the front edge of the border and perhaps putting an extra barrier along the bottom of the fence? Even polythene will help as it protects the timber. I put gravel boards at the bottom of fences when I put them in to help with this but it would be hard for you to do that now. Like bookmonster I also used soil improver called 6x and it was very helpful.

06/04/2013 at 10:02
Thanks all will look up soil improver!
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