Problems of Clay Soils

Soil texture and makeup determine the health and vitality of your garden. Soils are made up of sand, silt and clay, of which sand is the largest soil particle. Silt is made up of slightly smaller particles. Clay has the smallest particles of all, which make the soil compact and dense, and creates certain issues.


Compaction is often caused by wet clay soil that has been pushed down by surface pressure. Soil compaction prevents plant roots from traveling freely through the soil, making it difficult for the plant to get the water and nutrients it requires. Compacted soil that dries will further prevent root growth and may trap roots in place. Nitrogen and potassium deficiency is also endemic in compacted clay soil.

Poor Water Drainage

Compacted, wet clay will prevent the draining of water to other areas. Plants in overly wet soil that will not drain may succumb to root rot, a condition in which wet roots begin to degrade. Plants with root rot cannot absorb nutrients or water, causing them to wilt and die. Poor aeration in clay soil may cause incidence of fungal disease. The wet conditions are breeding grounds for fungal spores.


Fertilizer requires space and drainage to spread effectively throughout the soil. Compacted clay soils will not take applications of fertilizer as effectively as soil that is aerated and porous. This potentially will cause fertilizer to concentrate in areas of the soil that drain better, causing fertilizer burn to plants in the lawn or garden.

Keywords: clay soil, clay problems, clay soil issues

About this Author

Cleveland Van Cecil is a freelancer writer specializing in technology. He has been a freelance writer for three years and has published extensively on, writing articles on subjects as diverse as boat motors and hydroponic gardening. Van Cecil has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from Baldwin-Wallace College.