How to soften the ground??

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by abcfamily, Nov 4, 2007.

  1. abcfamily

    abcfamily LawnSite Member
    Messages: 240

    :confused: My church has some flowerbeds that the ground is hard (clay like). Is there something I can add to the dirt to soften it to allow flowers to more easily grow in it? Such as Lime, or compost?
    Also the best time and way to apply would be a big help.
    I have a couple of ladies willing to plant the flowers if I get the ground prepared. Thanks for any advice you can give! :usflag:
  2. Captains Landscape

    Captains Landscape LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 333

    rototill shellfish compost into the soil and add gypsum?
  3. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570


    I would NOT add shellfish, gypsium, or lime without first getting a soil test. At the minimum you need a pH test. Adding shellfish, lime, etc. will change the soil chemistry dramatically. If your soils are acidic then that may be needed, BUT if you have alkaline soils like we do here, then that is the worst thing you can do...

    Tilling in compost is probably the safest and most beneficial thing you could do. I would mix sand, compost, and the native soils. There area also other products like perlite and vermiculite that will not alter soil chemistry but will loosen the soil and improve drainage.
  4. Fianolawn

    Fianolawn LawnSite Member
    Messages: 38

    We use this method in all of our annual beds? It is a very proven method. Your customers will go crazy with how much it will improve their flower beds.
  5. Focal Point Landscapes

    Focal Point Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    Yardpro is totally on target - or you can build up the beds with enough growing medium that you don't have to disturb the existing soil.
  6. abcfamily

    abcfamily LawnSite Member
    Messages: 240

    Thanks Guys!
    One last ?, Should I do this now and let it sit through the winter or would it be best to wait until spring?
  7. QSolti

    QSolti LawnSite Member
    from Dallas
    Messages: 10

    Here in texas we till compost into flower beds as often as possible, when the price is right of course. Down here we have nothing but clay, and this is the best way to "soften" the soil. It also raises the color beds, being that clay is not very absobant, and when it does get wet it destories root system on most plants it is very important to raise beds when possible.
    Anouther thing you may consider is adding shall. We starting doing this in the beginning of this year for drainage purposes and the beds that we have done this to are 50% better than the others, it breaks up the soil, and also is excellant for drainage purposes. The shall you need to add 2"-3" under your soil.
    Be careful adding the perlite, if I'm not mistaken this is used to absorb water, for time release, most color does not like to have it's roots wet all the time, I may be mistaken on this.
    Again it is a matter of cost, but definatly add the soil MIX (sand/soil/air) add raiseing.
    On the topic of when to do this........The sooner the better. Being that we are in color change season now I would do it now. Also the added benifit to doing it now is it's close to the end of the year and thay may have some money left in the budget to be able to do the beds the way they need to be.
    Hopefully all this info helps more than it cunfusses
  8. grntmbfisher

    grntmbfisher LawnSite Member
    from NH
    Messages: 61

    perlite is used to aerate the soil allowing for better root growth. vermiculite will absorb water and release it slowly. both as said above have a neutral ph and are won't change the chemistry.
  9. Focal Point Landscapes

    Focal Point Landscapes LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I would do it now and plant pansies - at least in Georgia . We use pansies and hellebores for winter color.
  10. abcfamily

    abcfamily LawnSite Member
    Messages: 240

    Thanks To All!! :waving:

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