We have a back yard that has a lot of clay and is on a hill. Our landscaper has planted 4 evergreens (2 colorado blue spruce and 2 Black Hills Spruce) that have died. The clay holds the water, so we are sure they have drowned. The trees were sitting in water when they were dug up for replacement. We would love to have something (evergreens, trees,etc) but we are gun shy. Any suggestions?
A clay hillside does present some planting challenges. There are some trees and shrubs that will grow in clay soil, with a few amendments.. You could plant Dogwoods, Chokeberry, or Bush Honeysuckle varieties. These shrubs also like wet conditions. For trees you might consider Tamarisk, Willow, Swamp Oaks or River Birches.�
Whatever you decide to plant you will want to amend the soil with peat moss and compost. Dig your planting holes 2-3 times larger than the root ball of your tree or shrub. Mix the peat moss and compost with the excavated soil and fill in around the root ball with this amended soil. Tamp down the soil around the roots and continue filling in soil until a slight mound is formed around the base of the plant. This will give your trees and shrubs a chance to spread their roots and begin penetrating the clay.
Good luck with your back yard!