How to Remove Clay Soil


Clay soil is laden with trace minerals and nutrients that benefit plants. However, it is difficult to work with because it is made up of fine particles that do not allow for water drainage or air flow. Clay soil becomes thick and sticky when wet and hard, almost impenetrable when it dries. You can amend the soil so that you can produce healthy plants and lawns. Amending clay soil is a long process, though not a difficult one.

Step 1

Set the rototiller to go to a depth of at least 8 inches. Till the area you have determined for your garden bed. Cover the area with layers of wood chips, grass clippings, leaves, straw and peat moss to at least 2 inches thick. Till the area to mix the amendments into the clay.

Step 2

Layer compost, sand and manure 2 inches thick. Dust the area with a fine coating of lime. Till the area to thoroughly mix the amendments into the soil. Spread red clover seeds over the area and cover with straw.

Step 3

Mow the red clover before the flowers bloom. Leave the cuttings on the soil. Spread 2 inches of compost, sand, peat moss, wood chips, grass clippings and leaves over the entire area. Coat with a fine dusting of lime. Till the mixture into the soil. Allow the soil to winter over with a covering of straw.

Step 4

In the spring, add a 2-inch layer of compost and till thoroughly into the soil. Begin planting your garden. Till spent plants into the soil and cover with straw for the winter.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not disturb the area by walking on it or attempting to plant in the first year.

Things You'll Need

  • Rototiller
  • Compost
  • Manure
  • Lime
  • Sand
  • Peat moss
  • Wood chips
  • Grass clippings
  • Leaves
  • Red clover seeds
  • Straw


  • Fine Gardening
  • Colorado State University
Keywords: clay soil, amend clay soil, prepare garden soil

About this Author

Currently residing in Myrtle Beach, SC, Tammy Curry began writing agricultural and frugal living articles in 2004. Her articles have appeared in the Mid-Atlantic Farm Chronicle and Country Family Magazine. Ms. Curry has also written SEO articles for She holds an associate's degree in science from Jefferson College of Health Sciences.