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Growing roses in clay soil, my favorite shovel & tips when preparing a hole to plant your rose

Tell me your secret - What is your least favorite part of growing roses? Mine has to do with digging holes! To my defense, digging through clay soil isn't quite easy If you're lucky like me, my backyard has many roots from wild trees invading. Digging holes also heavily involve removing many many big and thick roots. 

While it's a great workout, I dread it. However, I have an exciting plan to expand my garden (bye bye some grass). Planting new roses in the ground is part of this divine plan


Before digging a hole (or holes) in your garden, observe which area gets a minimum of 6 hours of sun. Ideally, morning sun with afternoon shade. However, not every yard has that luxury. 

Having that afternoon shade will help these roses during the summer months. If you don't have such an area with afternoon shade, go with areas with full sun. Mine gets full sun all day with not much to zero afternoon shade in most areas.


You should be able to tell if the area you have your eyes on has drainage issues or not by looking at it after heavy rain. Certain spots in your yard will be lower than another. If you dig a hole in the area with poor drainage, soil amendment most likely won't help solve the issue because water still stays at the bottom of the hole. 

After digging a hole, you may pour water and see how long it takes for that hole to drain. If it sits for over several hours, I'd consider a pot, a raised bed, french drain or find a new spot instead.

You may have heard that roses do not like wet feet, which means they don't like their roots to sit in water and prefer well drained soil. An area with poor drainage has a possibility to cause the roots to rot as well.


Planting Roses in the ground in our area with clay soil can be tricky, but totally possible. Clay soil may have a bad rep for poor drainage, but they have great nutrients. 

The key is to amend your soil (50/50 or whatever ratio that resonates with you).

Personally, I want my roses to get used to clay soil and develop strong roots. I like to add at least 50% or more) of clay soil in my amendment when planting in the ground instead of using 100% planting soil by itself.

In my early years of growing roses and before learning about soil amendment, I planted my roses straight into the ground without any amendment (oops). Luckily, those roses were planted in the raised bed where there's a mixture of clay and other soil. 

After learning about soil amendment, I sprung into action when planting my favorite rose "April Love" in the corner. That area had heavy clay soil and tends to flood slightly after heavy rain. 

That was the very first hole I dug in a heavy clay soil area and boy it was much more difficult than the soil texture on the raised bed. I only added about 20-30% of planting soil and the rest I mixed in native clay soil in that hole. Surprisingly, this rose is thriving and loving that spot!


Having a great shovel makes digging a LOT easier. For years, I used a cheap shovel and that made digging so exhausting until I found this Spear Head Spade shovel which made it a breeze to get through clay soil seamlessly. 

My husband bought it for me 2-3 years ago, it has been a life changing tool! Very durable. I'm only 5'2" and very petite yet I could dig holes like a champ! It comes in many colors as well.


In case you need help with planting and can use a step-by-step guide, detailed and clear instructions to walk you through each step of the way. I put together detailed instructions to show you how I plant my new roses in the bottomless pot and in the ground, how I amend the soil, what mixtures I add/layer in the Blooming with Joy monthly subscription for my monthly subscribers.

If you are not a subscriber and prefer an ebook with a one-time purchase, check out this 25-page ebook packed with detailed instructions - A Complete Guide to Planting Roses in the Ground & the Bottomless Pots guidebook below.

Last but not least, here's the video updates on planting my new rose and my (grand) plan to expand my garden.

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