Working with clay soil

March 26, 2013 12:00 am
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clay soil

Planting in clay soil can be a challenging feat. Not only does it retain an incredible amount of water, it is difficult work with when trying to plant new trees or shrubs. Contrary to popular belief, adding sand to shift the texture of your soil only makes cement when mixed with clay. The best long term way to improve the tilth of your soil is to add a variety of organic matters rich in bark, compost, and manure. Bark and wood products mixed in soil may temporarily tie up nitrogen making leaves turn yellow. You can add Nitrogen fertilizer to compensate for this. It is best not to use any cedar wood products mixed in soil. Mulching with bark, compost, or mint hay will also improve your soil by attracting worms to move the mulch down into the soil profile for you. Nature has left some plant materials which do not mind the heavy clay in various degrees. It is important to remember, however, the plants listed will not tolerate standing water for an extended period of time. 


Acer platanoides Norway Maple

Acer rubrum Red Maple

Acer saccharinum Silver Maple

Aesculus carnea Red Horsechestnut

Ailanthus Tree of Heaven

Albizzia Silk Tree

Alnus Alder

Aralia spinosa Devils Walking Stick

Araucaria Monkey Puzzle

Betula Birch

Calocedrus Incense Cedar

Carpinus Hornbeam

Catalpa Catalpa

Cedrus Cedar

Celtus Hackberry

Cercidiphyllum Katsura tree

Chamaecypraris False Cypress

Cornus kousa Kousa Dogwood

Cornus nuttali Pacific dogwood

Cornus stolonifera Red osier dogwood

Corylus Filbert

Cotinus Smoke Tree

Crataegus Hawthorn

Cryptomeria Japanese Cedar

Fagus Beech

Ficus Fig

Fraxinus Ash

Gleditsia Honeylocust

Koelreuteria Golden Rain Tree

Laburnum Golden Chain Tree

Liquidamber Sweetgum

Magnolia Magnolia

Malus Crabapple

Metasequoia Dawn Redwood

Morus nigra Mulberry

Nothofagus Southern Beech

Nyssa sylvatica Sourgum

Parrotia parrotia

Quercus robur English Oak

Rhus Sumac

Robinia Black Locust

Salix Willow

Taxodium Blad Cypress

Thujopsis Deerhorn Cedar

Tilia Linden


Evergreen Shrubs

Arbutus unedo Strawberry Tree

Aucuba japonica Aucuba

Buxus mircophylla Boxwood

Choisya Mexican Orange

Cotoneaster Cotoneaster

Eleagnus Silverberry

Escallonia Escallonia

Fatshedera undulate Aralia Ivy

Gaultheria shallon Salal

Ilex crenata Japanese Holly

Ilex vomitora Yaupon Holly

Juniperus Juniper

Laurus Bay Laurel

Ligustrum Privet

Nandina Heavenly Bamboo

Myrica Pacific Wax Myrtle

Osmanthus Osmanthus

Ternstroemia Ternstroemia


Decidious Shrubs

Aronia Chokeberry

Bambusa Bamboo

Berberis Barberry

Callicarpa Beautyberry

Calycanthus Carolina Allspice

Chaenomeles Flowering Quince

Chionanthus Wintersweet

Cytisus Broom

Deutzia Deutzia

Euonymus alata Burning Bush

Forsythia Forsythia

Genista Lydia Broom

Hybiscus syriacus Rose of Sharon

Hydrangea macrophylla Bigleaf Hydrangea

Hypericum Shrub Hypericum

Lonicera Box Honeysuckle

Rosa rugosa Rugosa Rose

Salix Willow

Sprirea thunbergii Spirea

Syringa Lilac

Viburnum Viburnum

Weigela Weigela


Ground Cover

Alchemilla Lady’s Mantle

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Kinnikinninick

Cotoneaster Cotoneaster

Gaultheria shallon Salal

Genista pilosa Broom

Hemerocallis Daylily

Hypericum calycinum St. Johns Wort

Mahonia Oregon Grape

Vinca Vinca



Acorus gramineus Sweet Flag



Alchemilla Ladys Mantle

Anemone Anemone

Aster Aster

Camassia Quamash

Crocosmia Crocosmia

Digitalis Foxglove

Dryopteris Buckler Fern

Echinacea Cone Flower

Eranthis Winter Aconite

Eupatorium Joe Pye Weed

Helenium Sneezeweed

Hemerocallis Daylily

Lysmachia Loosestrife

Mentha Mint

Monarda Beebalm

Myosotis Forget me not

Narcissus Daffodil

Prunella Self Heal

Rodgersia Rodgersia

Rudbeckia Black Eyed Susan

Sedum acre Golden Carpet Sedum

Sedum coccineum Red Sedum

Sisyrinchum Blue eyed grass



Actinidia kolomitka Ornamental Kiwi

Akebia Akebia

Ampelopsis Porcelain Vine

Campsis Trumpet Vine

Clematis Clematis

Fatshedera Fatshedera

Lonicera Honeysuckle

Rosa banksiae Banks Rose

Wisteria Wisteria

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