Gardening in Chalky Soil

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated October 23, 2015)

Chalky soil is one of the main types of soil that you can find yourself faced with when trying to create a garden. As one of the main types soil, it can present you with some unique opportunities and challenges when gardening. In many ways gardening in chalky soil is different from gardening in other types of soil. The reason for this is that it does not have as heavy of an alkaline content as the more acidic types, but rather is made up of soil that contains stones of varying sizes, dries out quickly, blocks many trace elements (such as iron and manganese), and has a slightly raised level of acidity. Generally speaking, it's not a very easy soil type to use without making a few changes.

  • Use the right plants. Considering how difficult it can be to actually do any gardening in chalky soil, you may want to consider looking up and using the plants that can actually work best in that type of soil. It is after all, easier to work within the natural environment for your area than to try and make some dramatic changes. That being said, there are quite a few plants that can actually thrive in this kind of soil. To name all of them would take at least a book to list and describe, but a few of them include things like acer griseum, aquilegia, campanula carpatica, paeonia, pyracantha, rosmariunus, and many others.
  • Check into xeriscaping. Chalky soil can very easily present an arid and somewhat desolate appearance during the warm summer months, so why not take advantage of this? Instead of gardening in the traditional sense, look into xeriscaping. This will allow you to work better with what you have, and require a whole lot less work than you would otherwise have to do.
  • Add other kinds of soil. If you are really set on doing some traditional methods of gardening, then you will need to add some topsoil, and mix it in with the existing soil. This won't exactly change the pH balance of the soil, but it will help with the water retention form a good solid base for you to work from.
  • Add some peat moss, or compost. In addition to adding other kinds of soil, you will also need to add some peat moss or compost to the mix. This will actually help balance out the pH balance so that you don't have to worry about the acidity level any more, while also adding a few other much needed nutrients to the soil. Keep in mind that compost can take a while to perfect, so you may want to start off with peat moss while you are building up your compost reserve.
  • Periodically test the soil. Chalky soil has the unsavory habit of returning to what it used to be like over time, and often regains its acidity levels quicker than other types of soils. That being said, you will want to periodically test the pH balance of your soil to ensure that the levels are still acceptable. On the average, you will want to test the soil at least once a month, though it could be beneficial to do it every two weeks for optimum tracking.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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