Durango, Colorado has a lot of clay in it’s soil.  It causes many gardeners, landscapers and contractors grief at times.  It can create a muddy mess and prevent plants from really thriving.

We are often asked about what to do about our clay soils here in Durango.   Here is the question:

“I’m researching clay soil and came across this product – http://www.soiltech.net/what-is-soiltech.  They only sell to commercial businesses and I was wondering if Dave at Gardenhart Landscape & Design knows of any way to treat compacted soil, what he might think about this and maybe order a sample that I can use.”

I saw liquid gypsum that is supposed to be good according to the website. Of course, the one above says it’s much better than liquid gypsum. Do you know anything about liquid gypsum and how effective it is?

We have not tried any types of soil amendments of this nature.  We prefer to amend the soil with organic ingredients such as compost or topsoil, and continue to add these nutrients over time to the soil.   http://organicgardening.about.com/od/soil/a/improveclaysoil.htm  This link gives ideas about how to do this.  We also plant items that can deal with clay/high ph soils in general. There are some plants, shrubs that simply will not grow around here as they really must have a sand or well drained soil.  When you have dense clay soils you must also be careful about how much water is being applied, as it can easily be too much.
If your soil is really compacted I recommend adding ALOT of organic nutrients and tilling the soil.

 Amend your soil with organic ingredients such as compost or premium soil

Are you planting a garden, perennials, shrubs, or trees?  Planting a garden vs perennials, shrubs and trees have different amendment requirements.
I am planting trees and shrubs and have clay tolerant ones.  I am getting the soil/sheep manure mix from Durango Nursery to mix with my soil per Sue’s
suggestion. Our other favorite bagged amendment is from Back to Earth, cotton burr compost and is generally for clay soils.

Overall, it is very important to determine what type of soil that you have in your yard, so that you can figure out what type of amendment to use.  Any plants that require constant feeding of nutrients should regularly get additional fertilizer every year, plus some sort of compost or amendment.