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need advice

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

This is a picture of my front yard where I want to plant the start of a shade garden. When you drive in the gate this area is on the right side and across the front of the property. It goes from full shade along the driveway to partial shade to full sun against the fence. You can see the front of the trailer and the kids jumping thing. It will be gone, they sold it. It sets on garvel and that I am trying bucket by bucket to move to the driveway and walkway. Will add other pictures. Any suggestions of where to start besides plowing the yard. The soil here is red and sticky, I need suggestions on amendments. I was thinking of spreading straw before they plow. Mary

Thumbnail by marti001
south central, WI(Zone 5a)

Any chance that you can get some/lots of "old" manure to get tilled into the soil once most of the gravel is removed? Just listened to daylily grower, Paul Owen (KY) and his fields were major clay and needed lots of amending. Would seem to be ideal time to lighten up the consistency and put down nutrients in one step.
. I have just a small corner that is clay and the little bit that has been least amended has the water iris ( stays damp and sticky longer than other areas.
Good luck with the garden work.

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

be careful not to plow too close to that tree. It looks like a beauty. I can't give you suggestions because I would be all over the place - never following good advice to start with a Plan and stick to it! NO MATTER WHAT stick to the plan. Plan the hardscape --any walkways or paths through your shade garden. Any big pieces you want to place and landscape around --like a bench or arbor or trellis? Do you have any drainage issues that you want to take care of before you acutally plant or plow up?

A lot of folks don't like to do this preferring to do it on their own, but I would pay a landscape designer for an hour or two of advice and go from there (and he/she can tell you how to amend the yard too) I thought that straw doesn't break down -- by straw do you mean pine straw? Also if you have wet areas - you really can't till it up - it makes it worse - clumps and lumps.

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

The guy that is going to plow has already walked the property with me and we have decided that he will stay away from the trees. These are maple trees and have a shallow root system. Some of the roots are acutally above the ground. They stick up. He and I decided that when he comes back, he, his men and I will walk the property and drive stakes in where we do not want the plow to go. I havn't found anywhere to get manure. In Calif, I could get all the manure, esp horse manure with straw and shaves in it, but here everyone just leaves there horses and cattle in the pastures. I havn't found any boarding stables around here either. Thats why I thought of buying some straw bales. Plow them in now and by spring it should be ready to plant after a spring plow. Plus I have to get straw bales for my strawbale garden in back of the trailer.
mary

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Well, I learned something. I didn't think straw could be used to amend. I thought it didn't decompose fast enough. I wasn't sure if you were talking about pine straw or hay - but since you mention horses/cattle - I guess you mean hay ?

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I amended my red clay by using free mulch from tree trimmers. Local tree trimmers have to pay to dump at the city landfill, about $50 a load. So they're happy to dump on my property for free and I am happy to get the free mulch. I use it fresh off the trucks without waiting a year for it to biodegrade. I even use it now to mulch all my beds full of plants and, no, despite popular belief, fresh, green mulch doesn't kill the plants. I've been doing it for about 5 years now with no problems. My plants are happy and the soil has become soft, rich, black gold.

You can also add in shredded papers, fruit and veggie scraps from your kitchen, grass clippings, leaves, etc. Drive around your city--you may find bagged leaves this time of year.

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks ButterflyChaser, I'm going to start looking for bagged leaves. I just got home from the store and the guy next door to me is raking leaves up on his 1/2 acre. I asked him waht he intended to do with the leaves and he said "Throw them away." I almost choked!
I asked him if he would consider Throwing them over the fence into my yard and he said "Sure" when I told him I need them for mulch to plow in. So have large amt of leaves being added to my yard as I type. Plus our 6 maple trees are dropping leaves also.
Mary

Winchester, KY(Zone 6a)

missingrosie, straw (wheat straw, rather than pine straw that is) differs from hay in that the seed heads have been harvested from the wheat, and its mostly just stems. That's why straw is used for animal bedding and mulch instead of hay, which is full of seeds and more nutritional parts of the plant (for feed). Wheat straw (that comes in rectangular bales here) is a great soil amendment. I just mulch with it, and within a year its mostly broken down.

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

gemini_sage
Thanks. By straw I mean bedding straw. I used it in Calif and rarely got any growth from the straw bales themself. I've started collecting leaves also.
Mary

Hillsborough, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks for clarifying !!

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

Around the trees I'm going to try the newpaper, cardboard, strawbale gardening as I can't plow around the trees or dig around them. Once I get things going, I'll post more pictures. Mary

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Planting around trees!!
Keep an eye on shade loving,fertilizer loving Astilbes, if that is one of the plants you are planning.
Trees thak most of the neutrients.
We have tried to grow hardy geraniums and campanula "white Clips" under a River Birch.
Geraniums are peunie.
We dumped a lot of manuer on there last weekend in order to make growing conditions better.

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

ge1836, thanks for the advice. I will remember that when I get to planting. Mary

south central, WI(Zone 5a)

HI again, lamium does well under my river birch. It is a runner and has tiny roots that just need a bit of soil, woodland phlox and violets also thrive.

Somerset, KY(Zone 6b)

Thanks MarciaGeiger. I'll look for your suggestions at the nursery.
Mary

Pittsford, NY(Zone 6a)

Thanks Marcia, I have three varieties of lamium I'll give it a try

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