I have some heavy clay soil where I would like to plant perennials. How should I amend it?
Clay soil can be the downfall of even the most persistent gardener. Chipping away at the ground for a half an hour per plant is enough to convince even the most headstrong gardeners to lay a brick patio where they really wanted a beautiful bed of flowers! There are two approaches to this soil amendment chore. First, for the new garden bed: Rototill the area to a depth of 12 inches. Mix in an appropriate amount of sphagnum peat moss and top soil (the quantity depends on the size of the bed). Doing this will provide excellent drainage for your new perennials and it will make the appearance of the ground much more attractive. Best of all, you won’t need to use a jackhammer every time you want to plant a Shasta daisy!
Second, for the existing bed: Dig a hole as deep as the pot your plant is in and twice as wide. Break up the soil that has been removed from the hole so that it is as loose and crumbly as possible. Prepare a backfill mix of one part sphagnum peat moss to three parts of the existing soil. Thoroughly mix the peat and soil together and begin filling the hole around the root ball, packing lightly as you go. This method will increase your success rate when planting perennials, trees, or shrubs. Of course, you still need to initially chisel away to remove the clay soil for the planting hole, but once the soil is amended, your plant should thrive.