The first step in stabilizing clay soil is testing it. Testing is necessary to know what you are dealing with. That’s the only way to know what you need to do. It’s easy too. Take a shovel and dig up a couple of handfuls of soil from different areas of your yard or project space. (That’s the area that you want to get ready for grass, landscaping, or construction.) Then take those samples and bring them inside in a plastic bag or container. Fill out the report form with your information and hand everything over to your local county extension office, where they will run tests on your soil sample.
Keep scrolling to learn more about soil stabilization with testing;
There are two basic types of soil kits–one test for pH and one test for all factors, including pH.
There are two basic types of soil pH kits. One type is designed only to measure the pH of your soil. These kits will give you a very general idea of how acidic or alkaline your soil is, but don’t expect to get results that are as accurate as those from a professional lab test. This type of kit typically consists of a probe to be inserted into the soil and an indicator solution or paper strips to compare the results.
The other type of soil testing kit will give you a more comprehensive picture of your garden’s health by giving you information on nutrients, metals, other factors, and pH levels. This kind often comes with nutrient solutions that you sprinkle on dirt samples and instructions for measuring conductivity and determining nutrient levels based on color changes.
Follow the instructions exactly to get an accurate test sample
You can test the soil to find out what your pH level is. There are two methods of doing this: using a DIY kit from the garden center or sending a sample away to a lab for expert analysis. Either way, you need to take a soil sample and dry it, then add distilled water and mix it up well. Then follow the instructions on the kit exactly, or put the right amount in a baggie and send it off with payment. The results will come back with the pH level (and probably some other information).
If you’re still unsure if you need to adjust your soil’s pH level, there are clues based on how well plants do. If they wilt easily or have yellow leaves that don’t grow as big as they should be, that might mean your soil is too acidic. If plant leaves are stunted and turn purple, they could be too alkaline.
Have your test analyzed by a professional lab if possible
Have your test analyzed by a professional lab if possible. If you can’t do so, use the information in your kit’s instructions to determine how much lime or sulfur you should add to your soil. Lime will raise the pH of your soil by adding calcium and magnesium. Sulfur will lower the pH of your soil by adding iron and aluminum compounds. Your goal is to get a reading between 6.2 and 7 on the pH scale, so adjust accordingly until you’re in that range.
The next step is to add organic material like compost, manure, or peat moss to your soil. This will help loosen it up for better drainage (though you should still make sure that water drains away from any structure on the property).