Thursday, May 21, 2009

What to do about Clay.

I have just spent a great week in my garden! It has grown now to include many more perennials than annuals. I have now started to include native plants as well. The hope is to create a garden in which I will just putter in, tending to pots of annuals and weeding and deadheading.

The thing about gardening is that it is never ending and always evolving. I am constantly learning something new. Where we live is mostly clay. People spend tons of money adding topsoil and peat moss to their gardens to try to amend the soil. However, by the heat of august, most gardens are brick hard. If you water the garden it becomes mud! The thing about clay is that it is water logged as opposed to sand which is extremely porous.

We recently moved to a new home and we were happy to see that the established gardens there had many of the same plants that we had been nurturing at our previous home. Some of the garden beds were full of crumbly loam as the previous owners used homemade compost freely. However, the lawn and some of the other gardens were brick clay. It would rain and mud would be everywhere. What to do? Do we add topsoil and peat moss? No!

Sand - concrete sand to be exact! If clay is compacted earth, by adding concrete sand it will help to loosen the soil. Then water will be able to flow better and there will be no brick- hard earth come august. Concrete sand is important to use rather than playground sand as it is coarser and will not blow away.

For lawn care, use an aerator to remove plugs of clay then add about an inch of concrete sand over the lawn. It is ok to walk on the lawn as this will just help the sand to work its way into the lawn. You will see good results the first year! For me, it’s all about achieving a balance. If you have clay, add sand.


  1. I have never heard of adding cement sand to the soil. I had 'the husband' read your blog and he says he will add sand to the front yard. Then we can do a comparison.

  2. I use to live right beside Cathy for about 12 years. I can tell you that she spends countless hours tending to her beautiful garden. Anything that she does has been well researched and is worth trying.

  3. Thanks Cathy, I like the new picture.

  4. Roses grow well in clay baste earth. Make sure you have some.
    Your blog topic "What to do about Clay" I first thought Clay Akin, silly me.

  5. Hey Mommie when I first say the title I thought it was about Clay Akin as well! It's like we are related or something??