dry clay soil

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beattied
beattied's picture
dry clay soil

Hi everyone,
i live in south western sydney and our soil is clay. I am trying to grow some banksias and other natives to attract the smaller birds, but not having any luck, the plants don't survive. Does anyone have any suggestions that would survive our clay soil. I have tried building up mounds to plant things in, but no luck. Any suggestions would be more than welcome.
Thanks

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi beattied, what do you mean by "dry clay soil"? Is it hard, because it doesn't soak up the water? I live in an area with very heavy clay soil, Grevilleas do grow well, you have to make the planting hole big, loosen the soil well, and be patient. Plant things that cover the ground, to protect it from drying out and getting hard, so the water doesn't run off.There are some very nice ground- cover Grevilleas. Have a look around, what grows in your area, that should give a good indication what grows well, and what kind of birds live close by, so you can attract those.Trust me, in time, with native plants, the birds will come.

M-L

beattied
beattied's picture

Hi Araminta,
Yes i mean hard clay, sorry. I have a lot of grevilleas, and they seem to be growing well, but am trying to grow other plants, as we mainly seem to have the aggressive wattle birds in our garden. We have a number of trees, where i would like to grow things as well, but it seems too shady and the ground is rock hard. I will give the ground covers a go, thanks.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

This has nothing to do with your soil. Do you have Wattle birds all year round? At my place they just turned up, chasing all the little birds away. But when they have finished their breeding, they move on, and for the rest of the year the little birds can live in peace.

M-L

Araminta
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Hi beattied, I just had a look, what the beaufiful groundcover that grows so well in my garden (clay,we build a mud brick house with it), is called. the name is: Pooinda Royal Mantle.It gets lots of beautiful , burgundy toothbrush flowers from spring to autum, and grows in partly shaded areas.We have it on embankments.It sreads over a wide area,and birds LOVE it. It is very hard to destroy, the dogs and the horse walk over it,and it doesn't mind! Hope that helps you a bit? M-L

M-L

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi beattied. Just putting in my 2 bob's worth. Your clay would be alkaline. Most banksia species require acid soil. Hence your banksia failure rate.
I like Araminta's idea of taking a look at the native plants which grow in your area. If you have any remnant bushland nearby or a park which retains original native vegetation then those places will give you an excellent guide as to what species would grow well in your situation. Do you have a local environment/native plants group or nursery which would help with species advice?
The advantages of growing what grows naturally in your area are:
1. Your local native birds & other wildlife are adapted to native vegetation indigenous to your area. Therefore, planting indigensous vegetation is providing the best habitat possible.
2. Your indigenous vegetation is adapted to your local soil & climate. Therefore it has the best chance of survival.
A hint: If fertilizers have been used in your situation it would pay to wait a winter or 2 to allow the rain to leach the fertilizer from the root zone. Most Australian vegetation doesn't like fertilizers.

beattied
beattied's picture

Hi Araminta and Woko,
Thank you both for your quick replies, much appreciated.
Araminta, yes we have wattle birds all year round, but i am hoping if i change some of the plants this might give the small birds a chance. Thank you for your suggestion about pooinda royal mantle. I shall definately give it a try.

Woko, thanks for letting me know about the alkaline soils, i didn't even think about that. I will be looking around my area at different plants. We do have a sustainability centre which i am sure would have some idea about what grows here, i hope. The only fertiliser we use are blood and bone, chicken poo and ones for native plants.

Thank you both for your suggestions, it gives me something to start with.

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