Tips for Clay Soils

We are located in Doylestown Pa. and are surrounded with heavy clay soils. The soils in our area will not support plants that can't tolerate wet feet. Thus our nursery does not offer plants such as Firs . We do have some spots that will grow firs where the topsoil is deepest and well drained. Over the years we have tried to modify soils using compost and drain tiles.

Yet long term nature wins out. The home owner will want to plant species that are not found naturally in their area so the home owner will want to modify their soils. On a small scale this is possible. The use of mounds , the addition of sand, compost and drain tiles is effective in modifing clay to make growing clay intolerant plants possible. Usually large amounts of sand and compost is needed. But be aware that building up the soil in one area can make more problems in adjacent areas.

We also suggest that if you don't see a plant growing in your area, only purchase seedlings or inexpensive container plants to try in your landscape before spending large amounts of money on large plants only to find out they are not hardy in your soils. The following list is suggested plants that do better in clay soils. Norway maple (Acer platanoides) Silver maple (Acer saccharinum) European alder (Alnus glutinosa) River birch (Betula nigra) we have Heritage and Common River birches Honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis) Apple, crabapple (Malus) Norway spruce (Picea abies) Austrian pine (Pinus nigra) Eastern White Pine (pinus strobus) Pear (Pyrus) Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) Willow (Salix) only on large properties, away from everything especially in septic fields Linden (Tilia) Shrubs Black chokecherry (Aronia melanocarpa) Red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea) Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) Forsythia (Forsythia) Honeysuckle (Lonicera) Potentilla (Potentilla fruticosa) Willow (Salix) weeping and corkscrew Elderberry (Sambucus) Lilac (Syringa) French, Korean , Common, Micheal Dodge White cedar (Thuja occidentalis) We only have afew large ones but thousands of seedlings We raise over 10 types ofViburnums on our farms from seedlings to 5' shrubs.

If you have poor soils due to compacting from construction, try viburnums. Being rugged and hardy, they perform where other plants fail.American Cranberry Bush ,Korean Spice,Blackhaw ,ArrowwoodViburnum ,Chicago Luster,Dawn,Summer Snowflake, Shasta,Erie,Tea,Judd,Korean Spice, Praque,and Siebold. .

By: B Hirst


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