Q&As/Garden Preparation or Hard Soil and Clay/Overcoming Clay Soil and Sunlight Issues

Question

An area in my garden has clay soil and only receives afternoon sun from around 3pm. In summer, the sun can be so strong it burns the plants, and in winter this area may receive no direct sunshine at all. I’ve tried planting roses, peonies and hydrangeas but to no avail. A friend suggested I try planting cranberries. Do you think they will grow in this area and if so when should I plant them? If not, could you please suggest other suitable plants? 

Answer

Many gardens in NZ have a similar dilemma; winter shade, summer sun and of course a heavy clay soil. The clay soil can be tackled by adding generous amounts of Daltons Garden Time Compost (you can also apply Daltons Clay Breaker) as well as raising the existing levels of the soil and ensuring adequate drainage in that part of the garden.

If there are existing trees or shrubs that are causing the shade, some careful pruning or the removal of some trees will improve the light to your garden throughout the year.  

Cranberries are a possible crop and grow best in soils that are acidic, so you’ll need to add peat to the existing soil before planting.

Fruit trees grow best and produce the most flavoursome fruit when grown in full sunlight – the one exception being feijoas which grow and produce good quality fruit in the conditions you have outlined. Thoroughly prepare the soil before planting by deep digging and adding generous amounts of compost to the existing soil. While winter is often the preferred month for planting fruit trees, they can be planted throughout the year as long as they are regularly watered and mulched over the dry, hot summer months.

Image
Red garden boots
Image
digging clay