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heavy clay soil solution

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    I am a new gardener and wish to prepare my bed for Spring planting.

    However, our soil is of heavy clay type and it causes drainage problem. A bit of rain in the past few days and it can turn into hard mud :(. In addition, the PH level is 9! At the moment there are two apple trees and couples of lime trees there. Everything else has not done else.

    My solution is to do raised beds.

    1) One over the clay soil area. Will this work? And will the soil on top help to improve the structure of the soil underneath?

    2) We have a large concrete backyard thanks to the previous owner. Will the raised beds work on concrete? I got advice from the local garden place to put gravel, then soil/compost on top for drainage….

    Any advice is appreciated! 🙁


    Raised beds are a good solution to both the clay and the concrete. If you google ‘building raised beds’ you will find heaps of info including videos on youtube showing how to do it.

    Another way with clay soils is to add heaps of organic matter and sow green manure crops. You have to keep it up though as the organic matter does breakdown over time. I try to sow one green manure crop in each of my vege gardens at least once a year. I also added gypsum to my clay soils but organic matter is the key…

    With a ph of 9, your soils must be alkaline. It seems unusually high but I would steer well away from lime to break up the soil as this would make the ph worse.

    Actually, given the clay and the high ph, raised beds sounds like the way to go… 🙂


    ps if you are not sure of the concept of green manure, this site has a bit of info. They are also a good source of seeds etc.

    Oh and welcome to ALS!!! :wave: :wave: :wave:


    Welcome to ALS :wave:

    I agree with Steve that organic matter is the answer (and raised beds too cos organic matter isnt going to help concrete :laugh: ).

    We have heavy clay soil too and it is amazing the difference organic matter and green manure crops make but it does take time and patience.


    Hi whitepoplar welcome to ALS.

    We have clay here as well and have had to raise all of our veg beds. We are in the process of also raising the orchard into groves. The citrus have fared well and apples ok but everything else is struggling with drainage issues. We live in a bit of a hollow so everything drains to us!

    I agree with what the others and the garden centre have told you. I have heard of garden beds going in over concrete but you do need to put the gravel in for drainage at the bottom.

    Good luck it is a slow process but very worth it in the end.


    Thanks everyone for all the helpful comments and welcoming messages.

    I am getting my father to help with assembling the raised beds.

    Is there any good soil supplies in Northern part of Melbourne that people recommend? I plan to go through our garden center, but would like to also shop around. Thanks 🙂


    There are quite a few people here from Melbourne Whitepoplar so I’m sure someone could recommend a supplier.

    Just thinking about your concrete. I posted a thread about my wicking pots a few weeks ago. Something like that might be an option too. You wouldn’t have the drainage worry then. There are other threads on wicking beds here as well and if you google ‘wicking beds’, there is heaps of info on the web.

    Anyway here is my thread:

    Make sure you post pics of what you do. We love seeing other people’s pics. They are inspiring for us too… 🙂


    One word: “wicking beds”

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