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12

This sounds like a lot of work. The picture you show of the backyard looks nicer than some other lawns I have seen where people have a maintenance firm do the fertilizing and cutting. Just some points to note: if you raise the grade anything more than an inch or two this will kill any trees inside the raised area. Trees don't take grade changes well. to ...


8

Not sure where you're from but in the USA you can send a soil sample to your local university extension office and for a nominal fee they will give you a report on the soil that you can use to improve it for your intended purpose. Two key things to look for is the existing organic matter content and cation exchange capacity. This is always a good thing to do ...


8

You will want 3-4" diameter perforated pipes in the stone layer (also sloped 1"/10ft), and you will probably also want filter fabric on both sides of the stone layer, or it will become a layer of clay with rocks embedded in it soon enough. You might also want some much deeper "french drains" to deal with the water, rather than only having drainage 1-1.5 ...


7

I find that raised beds are best for: early spring production drainage square foot garden (limited space) older people And I have also found that I can grow more per plant in the ground beds, but they start a bit later. If you have the time and energy to heavily amend a ground bed, I think you will like the reults better. That is just my experience. I ...


7

You need to incorporate as much humus rich material into the soil as you possibly can, so that means things like composted animal manures, good garden compost you've made yourself, leaf mould, spent mushroom compost, anything organic like that. If its really solid clay, bad enough to make pots with, then the addition of plenty of horticultural sharp grit (...


6

We caught our builder burying crumbled concrete below our garage floor when building. They were bringing it from other job sites to save on dump costs. Since our house was the next to have concrete poured they thought they could hide it all below our garage floor. My husband, a concrete/materials inspector for over 16 years, just happened to show up while ...


6

I MISS my clay soils! I've just moved to another state, Oregon, smack in the middle of cinder cones and my new soil is pumice and sand. Easy to work but watering is going to be every day until I can get my 'slaves' (micro and macro organisms) to find my garden, eat, make babies, do lots of pooping. I could use a tiller but I've gotten use to doing the work ...


6

In this case, because you already decided what you will put down, if you don't want to do two tests, test after. The reason? You will know what your soils current condition is, whether you need to apply lime, and what the nutrient concentrations are. All this is outdated when you add that big of a load of amendments. Also, if you mix them in properly, you ...


6

The advantages of raised bed vs. ground bed are pretty much the same regardless of your native ground soil, so you can take any of the comparison lists that pop up from your favourite search engine. This UGA extension page discusses some of them. In particular with a clay soil, you'll want to keep in mind that compaction, slower warming and decreased ...


5

I'd dearly love to know what part of the world you're in, because that looks remarkably like London clay, but then I guess clay looks the same most everywhere. I'm sorry to say your plan won't work terribly well - unless you compact them, the layer of stones will move and you'll end up with a bumpy lawn which still doesn't drain well in very wet weather. If ...


5

This is similar to what I did a few years ago. I needed dirt for the back of a building foundation I was constructing, so I dug up the hard clay from 10ft down and used it to level the foundation which sat on a bit of a hill. At the end, I was left with a fairly steep slope of ground on which nothing would grow except some ragweed, pokeweed, and some ...


5

Is mulch or topsoil better for new lawn in clay soil? Assuming the new topsoil is decent topsoil, the topsoil is "better". Even if you had outstanding topsoil now, additional topsoil would still be better because it would be a thicker layer of good topsoil. You simply can't have too much topsoil. I'm trying to imagine what you have now and I'm picturing ...


5

If your looking to make sure the grass actually performs well, you should be sure to amend the soil with a decent amount of compost. I'd recommend at least 1 inch, but if it was me and I was making such a large investment in time and money with the other aspects of the project, I would go with 2 or even 3 inches . At 1 inches depth, simply multiply the ...


5

I'll add in to the fine answer above that the unwanted plants can do a rather good job at loosening up the soil, so don't look at them as enemies, but as limited term employees that will help in your efforts and eventually can be let go when the desired species are taking off. Instead of fighting with these invaders, prune them, coppice them, use their ...


5

The drainage is the problem. Until the soil dries out the smell will likely continue. However there might be at least a temporary solution - how about if you build a couple of raised sand boxes? If the box is fairly deep then no matter how much rain the sand will drain really fast and the dogs will probably prefer the sand because it is drier than the ...


4

Hugel Kultur beds are basically underground compost heaps. The beds are filled with logs then covered with soil. They provide nutrients, help retain water and as the logs decompose they help aerate the soil underneath. It will take a few years for the logs to decompose. As they do the raised bed will get shorter so keep that in mind about how much volume ...


4

Having done plenty of garden beds, both raised and amended rows and hills, here on our farm, I can say that my experience is that: Raised beds: tend to dry out more quickly (which is both bad and good) tend to have less weeds initially (assuming this is all "new" soil) as tilling up the existing soil can unearth weed seeds cost more to construct (between ...


4

When grass or sod is laid directly on top of clay subsoil it cannot grow deep roots. It will tend to brown out during dry times. One client I did work at had purchased a new home with sod laid directly on top of subsoil. A year after they had taken possession you could pick the sod up like a blanket. It had not rooted into the clay at all. you need to have ...


4

The only way one can amend any soil is by adding decomposed organic matter. I actually now have sandy soil and miss my clay. You can't use a rototiller on clay, you could but you'll be making things worse. Clay is made of tiny, tiny pieces of rock that are flat. These flat surfaces have electrostatic charges and these pieces are 'glued' to each other. By ...


4

Here in NY, I have heard daylilies alternatively referred to as 'ditch lilies'. So called because they often grow on the upper edge of road ditches. While daylilies would prefer well-drained soil, they are liable to grow reasonably well in unimproved heavier clays as well. If you like you can improve drainage by adding some coarser soil or compost to the mix ...


4

One of my dogs (female) loves to pee on mulch. My other dog (male) loves to pee on objects (not surfaces). If she were peeing where I didn't want her to and I wished her to pee somewhere else I would make the other spot more attractive by adding mulch. If I wanted to be sure that the new pee spot did not smell like pee I would use aromatic mulch such as ...


4

If it pools on the surface, as opposed to immediately absorbing into the soil, the soil doesn't have enough drainage. As you said, the soil is clay-like. You need to improve soil drainage and aeration by mixing organic material (decomposed mulch or garden soil, compost, etc) into your existing soil. You may have to remove a lot of the crappy clay in order to ...


4

The other plants you've used will be perfectly happy with heavy clay soil in partial shade, but Liriope prefers a well draining soil which is fairly rich - usually achieved by incorporating composted manure prior to planting. It also prefers quite a bit of sun, so although it will grow in shade, it may not flower well. There is one Liriope that flowers ...


4

Apart from the heavy soil, your primary problem is lack of sunlight in the growing area. What you need is somewhere that gets all the sun that's going, but a minimum of 8 hours a day is essential (during summer). Herbs and vegetables all like full sunlight, though they will cope with a little shade, and a greater amount of sun exposure would reduce the ...


4

Probably the toughest one that will tolerate the conditions you mention is Prunus laurocerasus, commonly known as cherry laurel. There are a few varieties of this plant now,some with narrower, neater leaves. It does get quite large though at up to 25 feet with a spread of up to 10/12 feet over time. Cotoneaster cornubia is semi evergreen, has red berries in ...


4

I have Trachelospermum Jasminoides, Fake Jasmine, for this. It copes well with clay and wind. It fares less well in the shadier parts of the garden but does survive. You wil need a trellis or similar for it to climb up and it will not be as dense a growth as cotoneaster or berberis but it breaks up the wind effectively and is covered in fragrant flowers all ...


3

Depends on the variety of lilac to an extent - the smaller, dwarf bush types are more finicky about soil conditions, but any variety from Syringa vulgaris (Purple Sensation or Madame Lemoine for instance, many others) will be less so. Lilacs do not like wet feet, particularly in winter, so if you have heavy soil, its best to find a spot which slopes a ...


3

Not many conifers apart from junipers/arborvitae that will thrive in alkaline soil. There are some broad-leaved evergreens that will live. The alkalinity of your subsoil means more maintenance, but doesn't mean you can't successfully grow acid loving plants on top. Acid loving plants have an underdeveloped root system, and obtain nutrients from symbiotic ...


3

In many parts of Michigan, we have about 6-12" of good quality soil and then BAM! pure clay. I've found that raised beds are great for growing plants with deep root systems, such as carrots. Even with aggressive tilling and soil amendment, without raised beds my carrots would always take a 90 degree turn and knot up into balls when they hit that depth.


3

Hostas are incredibly tough. One of the few perennials that you can transplant without any shock any time even when they are flowering. Some varieties are tougher than others but most will take a few years to really get going. Clay soil is not the optimum condition for them. As described here Hostas will grow best in rich organic soil. A loamy soil ...


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