Clay has high cation-exchange capacity, meaning that it readily holds on to and exchanges positive ions. Hence clay soils are heavy and wet. Add powdered gypsum at the rate of two to three handfuls per square metre, then dig the soil over and water it in. Hi Barbara, Gypsum is still available, but it’s not recommended for general use. These don't make their way into the dirt when spread on top, so adding them when you are mixing up the soil will get them further down where the roots of plants can benefit from them. Compost is rich in plant nutrients. Rosalind Riley. Posts: 70. Let’s break down each of these strategies and see how you can use them to improve the clay soil in your lawn or garden. Clay soil can provide an excellent foundation for healthy plant growth. Of course, a till is going to be the most efficient way to get the job done, but there are many, many other tools that can break up the clay, making it easier for you to amend the soil. We have an 800 acre ranch in Montana and while we do not have geysers like over in Yellowstone, we do get underground pressures that on occasion push clay dirt up into mounds. Gypsum is calcium sulfate, usually sold in powder or granular form. The footsteps of people and pets can compact clay soil, too, so it's important to improve the soil in permanent beds that are never walked upon. (The name "Gumbo" is a fitting name for the heavy sand-clay soil) It is not easy for plants to become established, but once they do, they often do well. Working clay when it is dry enough to break into hard clods destroys the granular structure. Clay soils are relatively fertile because of this capacity to adsorb these important plant nutrients. and is this really good to spread over lawns with hard clay soil to improve grass? Answer Save. It would be great for gardeners if every yard consisted of nutrient-rich topsoil, but this is not reality. Instead, direct your efforts toward improving soil structure. The active ingredient in the vast majority of liquid aeration products is Ammonium Laureth Sulfate. I've had the most success with seed mixes heavy on vernal alfalfa. Favorite Answer. We can not find them anymore but the problem of the hard packed clay soil still exists. 6 Answers. Improve the drainage. Super deep roots (up to 30ish feet) that get in and break up that clay, pull nutrients from down deep, and fix nitrogen from the air on top of it all. Don’t break up the lumps though. Get into the habit of standing on a plank when digging and only work on your soil in dryish conditions. And it has a capacity to hold a lot of water. Thanks for your answers! Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Clay’s small particles make it hard to dig through, but they also allow it to hold water much better than sand or silt. One often employed practice when gardeners attempt to amend their heavy clay soils is to add sand content. For the best results, add 4 inches of compost or aged manure to every square foot of clay soil and work it into the garden to a depth of 6 inches. A common misconception needs to be cleared up here. It improves water penetration and aeration by changing the soil structure. Lar. Fast forward about twenty years, and now I understand her struggle. As clay become compacted if under pressure, it’s important not to walk on it. Clay soils are generally low in both organic matter and microbial activity. Clay soil is composed of extremely small clay particles formed by the breakdown of rocks by erosion and organic activity. Soil texture is an inherent property that you cannot change. Breaking the Soil Without a Till. Clay soils can create problems in lawns. And would using a "power rake" be a good method to rake in a thin layer of quality topsoil as well? How to Break Down Clay Soil Fast. Because yes, I have clay soil. Tilth is the physical condition of the soil regarding ease of cultivation, seedbed quality, ease of sprouting and deep root penetration. The slowest but easiest way to convert clay to a less clay-like soil is to encourage the growth of any plant that is willing to grow in the clay soil, and then occasionally rototill or plough under those plants into the clay soil. Loosening clay soils usually involves breaking the crusted, compacted surface, or amending the soil with products that increase the air spaces. Relevance. So if you can make the soil particles in a clay soil larger you improve drainage and the texture. , it ’ s not recommended for general use by the breakdown of rocks by erosion and activity! Space and allow the frosts and wintry weather to do it when the are... The hard packed clay soil is to add lime 2 or 3 deep... Liquid soil treatment and clay breaker that changes heavy clay and compacted and have drainage... 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