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I have a sloping garden that has a couple of roses in and the trouble is that the ground is always hard to dig over and it always has been. What can we grow in there to loosen the ground up. It is just a nightmare to dig. The roses seem to survive but it is just so hard most of the time. Would like some suggestions from the experts as to what we can do with it.

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It sounds like you have compacted clay soil, which roses can handle. You can look at changing the structure and condition of the soil slowly over time thus improving it to allow you a wider choice of plants to grow there. This will involve adding in generous amounts of organic matter such as compost, rotted leaves, horse, sheep and chicken manures, rotted wood chips. All of which will eventually decompose. Adding gypsum (watered in) also is great its a superb soil conditioner. Coarse sand will help also. If you can get a rotary hoe in there to help break/loosen it up firstly, or dig over by hand, breaking up large clumps then start adding organic matter etc and mixing through. Slowly this will help break down and create a deeper top soil. Never work clay when it is soggy or bone dry. Consequently if this seems all too hard you just need to plant clay loving plants such as natives for a low maintenance garden, plants which can handle this soil type. Make the planting hole 3 to 5 times as wide as the root ball of the plant, create slots in the sides of the hole with spade for the roots to grow into the surrounding hole but the same depth as root ball and back fill with compost and add slow release fertiliser, then plant

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