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Improving Sandy, Clay Soil?

I love flowers and different plants but the soil at my home does not. I have part sandy soil, part hard clay soil. Some parts the water runs off, other parts I water and it runs right thru, so that the plants seem dry all the time. The area seems to like pine trees and apricot trees and apple trees that will grow and give fruit, but flowers like peonies, roses which I love do not. Does anyone have any ideas to improve the soil in my specific problem area?

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Trina from WA

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March 28, 20050 found this helpful

I have clay soil and done my homework. I have thousands of flowers and plants. When you buy your flower or plants buy good soil and gypsum.and plant food. Dig the hole ,add gypsum and chop up the clay with the gypsum. Add good soil, plant flower, add food, more soil and cover the top with mulch. The gypsum breaks up the clay and the mulch keeps in the moisture so u won't have to water so much. Do this every time you plant. Good Luck, Christine

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By Susan from hamilton (Guest Post)
March 28, 20050 found this helpful

Compost and add to soil each spring dig it in
All year I put all vegitable matters, lettuce, onion skins, potatoe skins, tomatoe ends, egg shells, coffee grounds no meat into a black bin, I add a little soil and mix it It composts naturally and makes nice black soil, I take from the bottom in the spring and dig into the garden.. Keeps the moisture and my plants just leap out of the soil.

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put in leaves in fall and start all over again.

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By rosa (Guest Post)
March 28, 20050 found this helpful

COMPOST .COMPOST COMPOST. I have a very large compost pile, and 2 compost makers. would never be without them, also make compost tea ! The plants love a drink of " tea "

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By Lynne (Guest Post)
March 28, 20050 found this helpful

I agree with Rosa and Susan: COMPOST. It helps sandy soil retain moisture, and helps loosen clay soil. If you don't have any homemade compost, you can purchase it in bags from any reputable garden center/nursery.

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March 29, 20050 found this helpful

You can probably get a soil testing kit from your county extension office, or at some gardening supply stores. Before you go to the expense of adding a ton of organic matter (which may be what it needs anyway,) I would test the soil to find out exactly what is there. It sounds to me like you have some drainage problems, and that in some places your soil is full of clay, and in others, it absorbs the water easily. When you do a soil test, test in several areas so that you can discover how different the soil in various parts of your yard are. The recommendation of adding organic matter is undoubtedly right on, but you need to find out what kind of organic material would be most beneficial. In the future, when you fertilize, I would use one of those long acting fertilizers.

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It is less likely to concentrate heavy amounts of stuff in the soil all at once. And it would help a lot if you started a compost heap. You can save your kitchen scraps and throw them in it, along with some worms. It takes a while for the stuff to age and turn into true compost material, but once you start this, you will have a constant supply of the stuff, and you will save yourself a fortune in the long run. You can get specific types of garbage cans to keep in your kitchen, and these cans will hold the scraps, and start the composting process. That way, you don't have to run out to the compost heap every time you fix a meal! Good Luck! Hope this helps!

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March 29, 20050 found this helpful

I am not sure that gypsum is the answer. You need organic material and possibly sand mixed with that clay. It may take a while to get enough organic material to do the job. Depending on how much soil you need to improve, you may want to get shredded leaves by the truck load. On the other hand, peat moss is much more manageable but costs a good bit. How do you mix it in?

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I recommend a tiller. Rent one or hire a neighbor. Do a soil test for PH while you are at it. You have a low PH and may want to raise it with the addition of lime when you till. Different plants require different PH. Peony needs a higher PH than you have. Where I live, in Southern Maryland, holly, mountain laurel, dog wood and the like thrive in acid soil.

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Diamond Feedback Medal for All Time! 1,023 Feedbacks
March 29, 20050 found this helpful

Here is a good article on Improving Clay Soil:

www.taunton.com/.../g00012.asp

Here's a good article on Improving Sandy Soil:

www.umassgreeninfo.org/.../improve_sandy_soils.html

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It seems to me that mixing the two with some organic material might be a good way to improve them both.

Susan from ThriftyFun

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