How to Amend a Large Lot With Clay Soil


Clay does not drain well. This can cause plants to become waterlogged, have wet feet and develop root rot or other problems. Clay soil can also cause standing water on the surface, turning any yard or garden into a boggy mess. The solution is to amend clay soil with plenty of organic fertilizer, including compost and peat moss, and to incorporate aggregates such as gypsum and sand.

Step 1

Dig three to five soil samples from around your lot. Take 1 tsp. of soil from the surface of your sampling location and place it in a sandwich bag. Dig a 3-inch-deep hole in this location and take another 1-tsp. sample. Place this into the sandwich bag and seal it. Print the location of the sample on the outside of the bag with a marker.

Step 2

Take this sample to your local county extension service for soil analysis. The analysis report will include suggestions for soil amendments and amounts.

Step 3

Purchase soil amendments and quantities as directed by the soil analysis. Common amendments include coarse sand, gypsum, peat moss, compost, manure and well-rotted hay. These amendments should be worked into the soil in amounts ranging from 25 to 50 percent weight by volume.

Step 4

Till the soil using a yard tiller with a cultivator attachment to a depth of 12 inches.

Step 5

Spread soil amendments over broken ground to a depth of 2 inches.

Step 6

Turn amendments into the soil using the lawn tractor. Repeat steps 5 and 6.

Step 7

Water your lot with a garden hose and sprinkler so that nutrients spread more evenly through the soil.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not attempt to fully change the nature of your soil in one soil amendment. Soil responds better to a gradual amending process that takes several years.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic sandwich bags
  • Markers
  • Teaspoon
  • Yard tractor with cultivator attachment
  • Soil amendments
  • Shovel
  • Garden hose
  • Sprinkler


  • Bachmans: Working with Clay Soil
  • Fine Gardening: Improving Clay Soils
  • Gardening Know How: Improving Clay Soils in your Yard

Who Can Help

  • North Carolina State University: Amending Clay Soils
Keywords: clay soil, drainage problems, amending the tilth of dirt

About this Author

After 10 years experience in writing, Tracy S. Morris has countless articles and two novels to her credit. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets" and "CatFancy," as well as the "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World," and several websites.