Using a Shovel in a Clay Soil Garden

What You'll Need
A pick axe
A shovel

Using a shovel in a clay soil garden can be a bit of a nuisance if you’re not an Olympic Strong Man. The physical labor involved is usually enough to put most people off of clay soil but if you can get past it clay can be one of the absolutely most rewarding soils for certain varieties of plant life. This informative guide will show you an easy to follow strategy that makes using a shovel in a clay soil garden somewhat simple.

Step 1 - Loosen the Soil

Chances are if you just go at the ground with your shovel it will be way too hard to dig up the area you wish to use for planting something and you may end up hurting yourself. This is where the pick axe comes in quite handy. Swing it down into the soil until the area you wish to dig up is somewhat loose. It is advised to dig a bigger hole than you think you will need at first because if you end up not having enough room in the hole you will have to come all the way back here to step one, whereas if you dig up too much, fixing the problem is as easy as putting the extra clay soil back in place and patting it down.

Step 2 - Using the Shovel

The type of shovel you choose is completely dependent on your personal preference. Keep in mind though that it will be easiest with a shovel that has a large enough spot to place your foot to give you the added power of your weight while you dig. Most gardeners also prefer a shovel with a pointed tip, this specific type of shovel makes it easier to dig into things as all the force and strength of the shovel and operator are concentrated into the very tip of the shovel, making it much easier to break the surface of your clay soil. Once you have got your garden shovel down into the freshly turned clay soil, pull the handle of the shovel towards you and the ground in a vertical motion. If you need to you can place your pick axe behind your shovel and use it as a fulcrum point when pulling the shovel back but if the pick axe was used in step one then the soil is probably loose enough to not have to resort to this measure.

Step 3 - Watering

It is entirely possible that even with a pick axe and the right shovel your clay soil may be too dry or hard to get any measurable progress with. If this happens to be the case you can always try watering the area. I’d water it before bed then again when you wake up then about a half an hour before you plan on attempting to use your shovel in your clay soil.