Though we say some plants can tolerate certain types of difficult soil, sometimes even these plants can struggle to grow in such heavy, wet, or light soil. With that being said, the best way to improve any type of soil is to mix in a decent level of organic matter every year...
How to improve clay soils:
Begin by digging your soil in the autumn- when it's moderately dry but still easy to work with. During winter and spring, the soil is often too wet, and during summer, too hard. Autumn is most definitely the best time to work with clay-based soil. In terms of planting new or young plants, however, stick to springtime, as even the toughest plants may not be able to survive in the harsh winter conditions.
Another tip is to not over-work the soil when you're digging. Try lifting bigger clumps of soil to the surface where they can be broken down by the weather over winter.
In terms of improving the soil, however, the best thing you can do is to apply plenty of organic matter- i.e., rotted manure or compost. If you're able to mix it in, then we highly recommend doing so. If not, then sprinkle a decent layer of matter on the surface of the soil and allow it to mix in naturally over time. Organic matter can be used as a mulch for your plants, to retain as much moisture as possible and prevent cracking in hot weather.
Do not add any sand to your clay-based soil, as you'll only make it worse. We recommend sticking to organic matter and ensuring you pick the right plants for your soil type- if you're unsure, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our team!
Another tip for clay soils is to use raised beds to improve drainage. Try to avoid walking on clay soil, too, as this will only clamp the soil together even more and make it harder to work with.
How to improve sandy soils:
Once again, the key to improving your sandy soil is to add in lots of organic matter. This will not only bring the soil together, but will improve its ability to absorb and retain water/nutrients. We recommend doing this in the spring or autumn.
We also advice applying mulch around the base of your plants. You can use slate chips, gravel, or pebbles, but it's always possible to just stick with a lovely thick layer of organic matter. Either way, apply your mulch at the beginning of spring whilst the soil is moist and beginning to warm up.
How to improve silt soils:
The biggest risk with silt soils is compaction. That's why we cannot stress enough the importance of digging in organic matter every year. This will improve the soil's structure and help the plants to absorb as much nutrients as they can.
It's also very important to ensure you avoid walking on silt soils, where possible, as you would do with clay. This is becuase it's already at risk of compacting, and walking on the soil can make it even worse. A good tip for this is to lay wooden boards on the ground first before walking on it- this will help distribute the weight evenly.