How to Correct Clay Soil


Clay soil, classified as heavy soil, is comprised of at least 50 percent clay particles. While some plants naturally grow in clay soil, it is not well suited for gardens, flowerbeds and landscaping due to the dense nature and poor drainage. Vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers need soil that allows moisture and oxygen to flow freely so the roots can properly absorb what they need to grow. Amending clay soil helps to create the best foundation for your garden or flowerbed.

Step 1

Calculate the area to be amended. Multiply length by width to determine square footage. Using equal amounts of coarse sand and organic compost, Bachman's recommends adding 6 to 8 inches of amendments to create the healthiest soil.

Step 2

Take soil samples from several areas at measured location, then take the samples to your local agricultural extension service for testing. Soil tests reveal pH level of the soil and whether additional nutrients are needed.

Step 3

Spread equal amounts of sand and compost at a depth of 2 inches then use a garden tiller to work it in to the soil to a depth of 6 to 8 inches. Use a rake to break down any remaining large clumps.

Step 4

Spread another 2-inch layer of sand and compost, along with any recommended additives determined by the soil test and till this into the soil.

Step 5

Add any remaining sand and compost and perform a final tilling to completely incorporate the materials.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attempt to work clay soil when it is wet. Buy compost or topsoil in bulk, rather than bags, to save time, labor and money.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Coarse sand
  • Garden tiller
  • Rake


  • North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service: Amending Clay Soils
  • Bachman's: Working with Clay Soil
  • The Garden Helper: How to Test and Adjust Your Soil pH
Keywords: Clay soil amendments, Garden soil pH, Tilling clay soil

About this Author

Deborah Waltenburg has been a freelance writer since 2002. In addition to her work for Demand Studios, Waltenburg has written for websites such as Freelance Writerville and Constant Content, and has worked as a ghostwriter for travel/tourism websites and numerous financial/debt reduction blogs.