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Dry,shady,clay...what do I do?

Gardening Reference » Gardening in 2004
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by Lilylilac on July 07, 2004 02:55 AM
The back of our house faces west and has very little sun. The area, it's up against the house, is about 30 feet long and 4 feet wide and the soil is hard, dry clay. I have tried (many times)planting grass but have had no success. The area slopes away from the house and then meets with our lawn where grass actually does grow.
I would like to create a nice flower/shrub bed along the house.
What can I put into this dry clay to loosen it up and make it more fertile?
Also, what kind of flowers/shrubs can I plant that will survive in these conditions if soil is amended?
I appreciate any help I can get cuz I'm goin crazy here. [dunno]

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zone 5
by obywan59 on July 07, 2004 05:39 AM
Why so little sun on the west side? Is it another building blocking it or just trees.

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Terry

May the force be with you
by Lilylilac on July 07, 2004 06:45 AM
We've got 2 very large Maple trees fairly close to the house and 1 huge Spruce(I think) a little further back. The only sun available is very sparse for most of the afternoon, then the yard catches some good rays from the sunset.

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zone 5
by weezie13 on July 07, 2004 07:43 AM
Hi Lilylilac,
Very nice name!!
It's late tonight, but I wanted to make sure
I posted a URL for composting conversations we've had here..
That'll get you a good start on some reading here.

I'll come back to this post in the morning!

Composting

I'll click the notification box to notify me when someone replies to this!!!

Weezie

Welcome by the way!!!

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Weezie

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

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http://photobucket.com/albums/y250/weezie13/
by Lilylilac on July 07, 2004 09:19 AM
[flower] Hi Weezie and thanks for the Welcome.
Read up on the composting. Thanks for sending me there. I tried composting a year or two ago and wasn't satisfied with my results. Now, after reading that, I'm ready to try again. Guess I wasn't patient enough last time. [Embarrassed] Anyway, thanks again. I appreciate it [Smile]

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zone 5
by weezie13 on July 07, 2004 03:37 PM
Lilylilac,
If you do a FORUM SEARCH and type in COMPOST or COMPOSTING, you'll bring up alot of posts here about composting and methods....(alot of reading, I tend to go a bit overboard on the subject, [grin] [lala] )
But, even in shade, if you give some of the plants good "dirt" to be in, they will do nicely and bloom...but it's trial and error....

Also, type in SHADE GARDENING into the GARDEN SEARCH, and you'll also find alllllllooooottttt of info there too!!!

I know someone will come thru and also give you some ideas for plants or planting area's ideas...

Weezie [gabby]

Keep us posted on your composting... I would love to hear if it's more successfull for you this time around, and don't forget, if you have any questions about it, don't hesitate to ask, I just [Cool] love [Love] to talk compost!
And flowers, and gardens, and dirt, and ideas'. Oh, I"m sure you get the idea, I like to talk! [gabby]

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Weezie

Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have
done this have entertained angels without realizing it.
- Bible - Hebrews 13:2

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http://photobucket.com/albums/y250/weezie13/
by Lilylilac on July 07, 2004 08:51 PM
Thanks Weezie! I'll keep ya updated. [Wink]

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zone 5
by Phil and Laura on July 07, 2004 10:32 PM
Say, Your'e from Wisconsin, you could use CHEESE as a soil ammendment, Ouch,Ouch  -
Laura...Help somebody!
She's from Wisconsin...too [perplexed]
by Lilylilac on July 07, 2004 10:44 PM
[Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [thumb]

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zone 5
by frustratedattimes on July 13, 2004 03:30 AM
Here is a couple of ideas.
If you do not mind the smell for a week or so, chicken manure does more to break up clay than anything I have found. Hope you do not have any neighbors downwind though [Big Grin] [thinker] .

What I have done here in Georgia (my wife threatened a divorce if I brought in chicken manure) [Big Grin] [Big Grin] [critic] [Big Grin] . So I watered the clay area really soaking it. Then I waited a day or so, and went to work with the tiller. Then I mixed in compost/ a little sand, and some composted cow manure (no smell) [Big Grin] . Then just till it up as deep as the tiller will go.

Since it is a shady area, hostas work well, there is also a multitude of bulbs for shady areas. If there is any sun at all, I know that Coral Bells will do wonders, I have two that only get morning sun and are growing like weeds.

I have found that just looking at the online garden/flower places, give fairly accurate descriptions of plants and if they need shade or sun.

I hope this helps [thinker]

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I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them." John Wayne
http://community.webshots.com/user/johncandy1005
by Lilylilac on July 13, 2004 03:43 AM
Well, I do have a little sun. In the late afternoon and into evening I can catch the sunset over there. Also, what little light the Maples let through. I do love hostas though. One of my all time favorites! [Love] I'll try the tiller idea and throw in some compost and other things to lighten up the dirt. Thanks! [thumb]

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zone 5
by Beverly Miles on July 17, 2004 05:43 PM
Lilylilac
I had a problem with a thick band of clay in my
back yard where I wanted to put a flower bed and I couldn't get anything to grow there, [Frown] (so I had to finally use lyme (it's a white powder) and it did the trick. Then the clay just broke up as I tilled it into the dirt. [grin] After I added some more rich dirt, and replanted the difference was absolutely amazing! The plants then flourished. [thumb] The lyme neutralizes the clay so it breaks up.
by Bestofour on August 05, 2004 03:20 AM
I have a place about the size of yours beside my house that is mostly shade. And we have a lot of clay here in NC. What I ended up doing was tillering in some top soil and some compost. I don't know about where you are but it seems here the dirt eventually returns to clay unles you're constantly working with it. That's kind of hard after plants have been added. Anyway, I've planted hosta, ferns, some hyacinth bulbs, and in the summer I put caladiums. The red of the caladiums looks nice against the hostas. It's turned out to be a pretty area. Very cool looking during the boiling heat.

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