Can someone offer me some advice with my garden?

Hi
I was wondering if any friendly gardeners out there might be able to offer me some advice please.
I am a complete novice and bought my very first house 2 years ago. The first year I spent doing all the decorating indoors, and in spring 2011 I couldnt wait to get started on sorting out the back garden. I am lucky enough to have a decent sized back garden, 15metres long by about 7 metres wide and at the time it was a completely grassed area with no plants at all. I saw this as a blank canvas and was so excited by the prospect of designing something beautiful.
The first thing I did was to cut away the turf to make borders which was absolutely back breaking as the soil was a heavy clay. Once the turf was removed, I hired a rotavator and nipped down to my local farm who had lots of manure to give away it wasnt rotted but it was my only option at the time as I just didnt have much money to spend on compost. I then spent a good weekend rotavating the borders and throwing in as much organic matter as I could get my hands on.
I also tried to note where the sun was rising and falling so that I could buy the right types of plant. I then spent alot of money buying many plants from the local garden centre as I thought that I would be able to enjoy them for many years to come.
I take a look out of my window now and see that only a few plants have survived sorry if I get these wrong - afew hebes, black sambuca, forsinthya, buddleia and a twisted willow and a couple of roses.
On such a beautiful day, I was determined to start again with the garden. I decided just to work over a small area each week, buy some compost each week and try to work my way around the borders. I have just dug a small hole approx 50cm by 50cm and the soil is horrible all claggy, sticky and lumpy. However what is worse is that past a spades depth, I am hitting a lighter brown layer of soil which seems to be solid clay/sandy? I am trying my very best to loosen it and dig through it with my garden fork but I just dont have the strength. I have no idea what to do now. It seems to be present around half of my garden when testing areas with my spade.
I know its stupid but I so wanted a beautiful garden as it took my ages to save for my first house and instead I am sat here with tears in my eyes not knowing what to do or where to start. Should I hire another rotavator and start from square one? I live on my own and dont have much spare cash so I dont know if there is anything I can do.
Thank you in advance for any words of advice. They will be greatly appreciated - Jo
--
JoStar37


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"The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before." - Vita Sackville-West
As with any good gardener, you're not satisfied, so I guess your on your way.
--
You put Lloyd Blankfein in pound-me-in-the-ass prison for one six-month term,
and all this bullshit would stop, all over Wall Street. That's all it would
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JoStar37 wrote:

You would remove some of the guesswork if you said where you are and what your climate is like. Nurseries and plant shops will sell you anything that they can not just those suitable for your climate and soil. So far we don't know if you picked the right plants or not, so that may be part of the problem. Find out from locals what actually does grow well in your area, they have solved these problems before you arrived, don't re-invent the wheel.
It would seem that the clay is at least part of the problem, even if not the whole problem. Solid clay is a very difficult base soil to work with. As you have discovered it is very hard to work but this is not the biggest problem.
The fact that it is nearly waterproof is a big issue because it effects drainage. If you have a shallow layer of topsoil (often imported) once you get through that water doesn't drain but tends to run along the top of the clay. If you dig a hole in it and plant a shrub there the shrub will be effectively in a waterproof tub with no drain holes. Next time it rains the hole fills up and may stay full of water for days, this is worse if the plot is level. Unless the shrub is adapted to immersion the roots will be damaged and may die, then the shrub dies.
There are several ways around this and none of them are easy or cheap. One of the simplest ideas is to not plant your shrubs in holes. That is you build up the soil above the clay and plant them into a mound. It is possible to install drainage. It is possible to slowly convert clay to soil with much effort and soil amendments and time. It is possible to import soil to go on top. Try getting a professional or the members of the local garden club to give you an assessment on the spot, doing it from half a world away is very chancy.
David
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On 3/1/12 4:58 PM, David Hare-Scott wrote:

I have found that a generous amount of gypsum broadcast on top of the soil and slowly rinsed into the soil will cause clay to be more "friendly". Gypsum is calcium sulfate, which reacts chemically with clay to make the clay porous and granular. The problem is that it eventually leaches away and thus must be applied every year or two.
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean, see
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On 02/03/2012 03:47, David E. Ross wrote:

The main problem with gypsum is not so much that it has to be regularly replaced, but that it adds a lot of calcium to the soil. If you want to grow plants which don't like calcium (i.e. alkaline conditions), then gypsum should be avoided.
--

Jeff

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Jeff Layman wrote:

This is rather confused. Gypsum does not materially alter the pH of soil. In nature high pH (alkaline) soil often has much calcium but it is not calcium in itself that affects pH. The anions in salts (eg, carbonate, sulphate, chloride) are as important or more important than the cations (eg calcium, sodium, magnesium) in determining pH. So calcium carbonate (garden lime) does raise pH where calcium sulphate (gypsum) doesn't. It is the carbonate that sops up the acid (hydrogen ions) so moving the balance in favour of alkali.
Where gypsum may have an unwanted effect is in altering the calcium-magnesium balance but this is another issue.
A further issue is that gypsum doesn't work on all types of clay.
There are liquid clay breaker chemicals aside from gypsum. But this is getting far afield since we are not yet certain that the clay is the main or only problem that the OP has.
David
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On 02/03/2012 21:27, David Hare-Scott wrote:

Yes - I was confusing two separate things. I had the term "calcifuge" on my mind when I compiled the post. :-(
--

Jeff

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On Fri, 2 Mar 2012 11:58:37 +1100, "David Hare-Scott"

I took a peek through the intertubes at his place, and it seems he's in the UK (as if "rotovator" wasn't clue enough), probably near Oldham, but since everything is overcast and there's rain on the porthole, I can't rightly tell.
"gardenbanter.co.uk" would appear to be a web-to-newsgroup interface site (and the .uk in there has no bearing on my expectation the OP is in the UK, and it has US-specific newsgroups listed as well).
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For lots of plants, one spade is deep enough.
I can't figure out what you mean by "solid clay/sandy".
Clay is soil with fine particles. Sand has much larger particles. Gravel is even larger. Solid is rocks.
claggy - I think you mean muddy?
How deep is the soil damp?
--
Dan Espen

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wrote:

Er: "Coarse" is large rocks "Solid" is a strata of solid stone.
Otherwise, yea, the "solid clay/sandy" is an odd description - the two are very different.
I do love my sandy loam (with gobs of organic amendments).
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JoStar37;952350 Wrote: > Hi

> offer me some advice please.

> first year I spent doing all the decorating indoors, and in spring 2011 > I couldnt wait to get started on sorting out the back garden. I am > lucky enough to have a decent sized back garden, 15metres long by about > 7 metres wide and at the time it was a completely grassed area with no > plants at all. I saw this as a blank canvas and was so excited by the > prospect of designing something beautiful.

> absolutely back breaking as the soil was a heavy clay. Once the turf was > removed, I hired a rotavator and nipped down to my local farm who had > lots of manure to give away it wasnt rotted but it was my only option > at the time as I just didnt have much money to spend on compost. I then > spent a good weekend rotavating the borders and throwing in as much > organic matter as I could get my hands on.

> could buy the right types of plant. I then spent alot of money buying > many plants from the local garden centre as I thought that I would be > able to enjoy them for many years to come.

> survived sorry if I get these wrong - afew hebes, black sambuca, > forsinthya, buddleia and a twisted willow and a couple of roses.

> garden. I decided just to work over a small area each week, buy some > compost each week and try to work my way around the borders. I have just > dug a small hole approx 50cm by 50cm and the soil is horrible all > claggy, sticky and lumpy. However what is worse is that past a spades > depth, I am hitting a lighter brown layer of soil which seems to be > solid clay/sandy? I am trying my very best to loosen it and dig through > it with my garden fork but I just dont have the strength. I have no > idea what to do now. It seems to be present around half of my garden > when testing areas with my spade.

> to save for my first house and instead I am sat here with tears in my > eyes not knowing what to do or where to start. Should I hire another > rotavator and start from square one? I live on my own and dont have > much spare cash so I dont know if there is anything I can do.

> appreciated - Jo Hello friends,
Thanks for sharing your advice garden information, Really I am highly appreciated.
Best regards Dabney Walker
--
DabneyWalker


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