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S.O.S.! Garden Abuse!

Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)

Hope this is the right place to post this...

I bought this home a over a year ago. It was built in 1991, and has suffered severe-garden-abuse! Of the three previous owners, not one of them ever improved the soil. They just stuck things in the ground and unfortunately, some of it lived!! What I am faced with, is several-fold:

The soil is heavy clay, on top of Fred Flintstone's Bedrock. Really.

MOST of the existing plantings are overgrown and not appropriate for their placement, and a FEW are very a beautiful birch tree in the front yard, but it is underplanted with 3 fat evergreen bushes (not sure what they are...almost like an arborvite, only about 3 feet tall and round)

Very poor drainage in a very wet part of the country! My yard turns into a marsh in the winter.

My question: How can I preserve the plantings that I want to keep, while getting rid of the ones that I don't want? Should I waint until fall to do that type of work?

How do you improve soild in an existing bed without distubing the plants (azaleas, rhodies, lilacs)?

I'm thinking that raised beds are the way to go, but how do I accomplish this without disturbing the soil level around existing plants that i want to keep...

Any ideas?



East Bethel, MN(Zone 4a)

Dig it all out. Pot the things you want to keep, compost the rest. Hire a truck of peat moss and a truck of manure. Hire a large and powerful tiller. Go to town with a new yard!

Josephine, Arlington, TX(Zone 8a)

Tracyrae, I would wait till Fall to pull out any shrubs. It seems to me that if the azeleas, lilacs and rhododendrons are doing well, the soil can not be too bad in the place they are planted, they are all famous for being picky about their soil.

So may be you don't have to redo the soil in that bed, but rather improve it by adding compost and mulch.
The other plants you could move if you like in the fall, and you can get rid of the ones you don't want at any time.
The advice Sylvi74 gave you is excellent to improve soil in general, but sometimes that is not possible if you have a lot of obstacles in the way. I guess you are the best judge of how well you could handle a large scale dig up.

Also if your yard doesn't drain well, you might need to have it graded so that it drains properly,
your yard may be too level, not allowing good drainage.
I hope this helps.
Sincerely, Josephine.

Gresham, OR(Zone 8a)

Josephine, what a beautiful website! I got goose-bumps when I saw it! I used to live in Texas, and I have to say, the picture of the Blue Bonnets made me smile! Thanks for the great advice for my yard. I really think that the method that you described may be the correct way to do it...I'm not sure that I could, though. I am a single mom, so it would just be me doing the digging. I'm just pitiful when it comes to digging through rock & big old roots! Not only that, but the thought of digging ALL THAT DIRT really makes me love those ugly bushes exactly where they are! LOL!

I am an avid composter, and always try to do the 'right' thing for my little corner of the world. I think that what I will try, is to pull out the stuff I don't want, rent a chipper, and compost it. Hire (if I can afford it) the diggers, and hire the dirt. (Sylvie74: I really like that word: 'hire"!) I know that I can shovel and wheel dirt to and fro...maybe just work on one area at a time...hmmmmm

Thanks for the great ideas!


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