Bad soil has the potential of limiting plant growth. Most plants thrive in well-draining fertile soil. Bad soil includes compacted, clay, infertile and sandy soil. All of these conditions stress plants attempting to grow in this type of soil. When faced with poor soil conditions, loosen the soil with a rototiller and work in several inches of organic material like peat moss and well-rotted compost. This provides a wide area to grow in rather than a deep area. Also choose healthy, strong plants that are adapted to poor soil conditions.
Birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus) is an upright perennial. Large yellow and orange flowers resemble pea blossoms. This legume prefers soils that stay wet. They are adapted to heavy clay, but do not do well in sandy soil. Birdsfoot trefoil tolerates low fertility and cooler climates. This slow-growing perennial thrives in sunny locations without a lot of competition from other plants while it is young.
Crown vetch (Coronilla varia) grows to a height of 1 to 2 feet. Pink and white pea-like blossoms cluster together on the ends of terminal stems. The compound leaves are split up into 15 to 25 oval leaflets. Crown vetch blooms in the summer and early fall. This perennial grows in waste places where other flowers do not thrive. Crown vetch is adapted to gravely and sandy soils.
Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) grows to 12 inches in height and spreads 6 inches. This perennial produces white and pink bell-shaped blossoms. This bulb has red berries that are poisonous. Lily-of-the-valley grows in full sun to partial shade. This flowering bulb is adapted to arid soil conditions. Lily-of-the-valley benefits from a top dressing of well-rotted compost and slow-release fertilizer.
Moneywort (Lysimachia nummularia) forms a mat of round, dark green leaves with five-petaled, yellow cup-shaped blossoms. The stems reach 2 feet in length and 2 to 4 inches tall. Moneywort produces flowers from June through August when it blooms. Moneywort adapts to nearly any soil, but prefers moist and sunny sites.