To a gardener choosing which plants to grow, pH is an important consideration. While the pH of most soils falls somewhere between 3 and 9, the majority of common landscape plants prefer a pH slightly on the acidic side, say 6.2 to 6.8. However, some plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, prefer an even more acidic soil (with a pH in the 5 to 6 range) and other plants, green ash trees and clematis, for example, do best under more alkaline conditions, with a pH above 7.
Today I’m revisiting a topic I first talked about back in 2013. I normally don’t do this, as I assume you can go back and reread whatever you’d like, using the options at in the sidebar at right. However, this is an issue that I think needs a lot more attention. I’m so frustrated, I could scream.
What is this horrific landscaping practice that makes me cringe? Landscape fabric.
I was wrong. Hard to admit, but there we have it. I passed on advice from those I deemed older and wiser than I am, and they were wrong too. But hey, none of us knew any better. Then.
It seems that the last thing you want to do when planning a new garden is dig.
Yes, we were all taught to plan out where the garden would be, then spread amendments, and likely fertilizer, and dig it all in—at least eight inches, and two feet is even better. Now we’ve learned that the only things we gain from all that work are sore muscles and aching backs.
It seems such a waste—we use a tea bag to make a lovely cup of tea, and then toss it into the trash. It just screams to be repurposed—surely there’s some way to get some extra use from that depleted bag! So it’s no big surprise that the internet is suddenly full of lists with titles such as “7 Random Uses for Used Tea Bags.”
One of my perverse pleasures is perusing Pintrest to find bad garden advice. There’s certainly no lack of misinformation on the web, and Pintrest seems to collect it all. Most advice is simply a waste of time and money—sprinkling Epsom salts on your plants, spraying weeds with vinegar, pouring beer on your lawn. They don’t help, but they won’t kill your plants either. However, yesterday I came across a recommendation that will seriously damage your garden. I was so horrified that I immediately sat down to write this post.
Spring has finally arrived here at 7,100 feet, and I’ve been feverishly planting—move the mulch, dig a hole, dump the perennial out of its pot and stick it into the ground. Fill in any gaps with leftover dirt, replace the mulch. Rinse, repeat.
As I work around the lawn, adding flowers everywhere I can, I’ve noticed how abysmal my dirt is. Since we added compost, I assume that eventually it will qualify as soil, but right now I’m dealing with lumps of bentonite clay embedded in a deep layer of gritty, coarse sand. The clay was supposed to be seven feet down, but in the process of digging a basement, it got mixed with the surface layers.
Last week I shared how to determine the make-up of your soil. This knowledge is helpful, but it doesn’t solve the problem of soil so hard, you can’t get a shovel into it. That’s what we’ll cover today.
Most often, soil that is rock-hard is mostly clay. Sand can get hard, too, but it’s much more forgiving. They don’t make pottery out of sand. So what do you do with your compacted clay? Here are some do’s and don’ts.