Well, first and foremost, we feel that we have to address the title of this post, which does seems a bit silly since we wrote it! Anyway, there is no such thing as ‘bad soil’, just soil to which some plants are less well suited. If you happen to have the type of soil that is poorly suited to the plants that you wish to grow then don’t despair – most soil types can be improved or altered with just a few simple steps.
What about lavender?
Lavender is originally a Mediterranean plant and so flourishes in soil that mimics that found in these areas, such as soils that are poor or only moderately fertile and, most importantly, free-draining. Lavender thrives in soils that are sandy, chalky or alkaline. But what if you would love to have a garden full of heady, sweet and fragrant lavender and do not have these soils types, for example if your soil type is clay or clay loam and/or acidic?
How to grow lavender in clay soil
One of the biggest threats to lavender is for it to be sitting in water-logged soils as this can cause the roots to rot, and clay soils are typically slow-draining. However, to improve the drainage of your clay soil to make it suitable for growing lavender you can mix in a combination of gravel and sand plus a small amount of organic matter to allow the soil to become nice and free-draining. It can also often be helpful to plant your lavender in a mound to raise it above the level of the rest of your garden, which will mean that should the site become waterlogged your lavender may at least escape the worst of it.
How to grow lavender in acid soil
In general lavender prefers soil which has a pH level of above 6.5, however if your soil is naturally below that then there are steps that you can take to make it more suitable for successfully growing lavender. There are several ways in which you can make your soil more alkaline but the simplest and most effective is by adding lime. Garden Lime can be found in most garden centres and is made up of ground limestone, the active ingredient being calcium carbonate which helps to neutralize the acid soil. This is best used when it is dug into the soil some months prior to planting so that the soil is at optimum condition when you introduce your new lavender plant.
We hope that you enjoy growing lavender – whatever your soil!