Terrain Aeration helps Sir Harold Hillier Gardens solve clay ground challenge for major tree planting project

The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens has called in specialist turf contractor Terrain Aeration to prepare wet, heavy, clay ground for the planting of a major new tree project.

Aeration in action at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Image: Terrain Aeration
Aeration in action at Sir Harold Hillier Gardens. Image: Terrain Aeration

The garden has started planting for its ‘Valley of Fire’ feature, which will include 30 different types of trees and shrubs which together will create stunning autumn colour on both sides of what is currently known as Oak Tree Vista.

One of the challenges that faced the scheme was the need to create drainage in several areas of wet, heavy clay, to get the plantings off to a good start.

Hillier head of collections David Jewell engaged Terrain Aeration to carry out systematic treatment of the areas around the new plantings. "I have known of the Terrain Aeration service for many years and have used them before. Their machines do an excellent job with very little disruption, in our case in quite tight areas on very soft ground. The results always speak for themselves."

Terrain Aeration primarily used its Terralift Tracker to treat the areas between and around the saplings. The soft rubber tracks allowed the machine to traverse the soft ground and let the operator treat and de-compact the areas below any waterlogging. The method is especially effective where compaction or a natural water table forms an impermeable layer that will not allow water to pass through it; typical where there are areas of clay.

The machine’s probe reaches far deeper than normal aeration and hydraulic fracturing of the ground with an air blast opens it up to improve drainage, and allow aeration around the root areas. As the probe exits the ground, dried seaweed is injected which swells in wet weather to keep the probe holes open to aeration. Four shots per square metre were delivered around the saplings.

The new plantings of North American Maples, Liquidambar, Acer, Sorbus and Cherry, interplanted around the existing trees, will bring tinted orange-reds to the view, while shrub beds planted with Sumachs, Lindera and Euonymus of orange, yellows, orangey reds and gold will complete the Valley of Fire.

The garden in Romsey, Hampshire has the world’s largest collection of hardy trees and shrubs anywhere in the temperate world and holds 14 National Plant Collections.

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