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How to amend my soil? Not sure what I'm working with.

7 years ago
last modified: 7 years ago

New home, new yard, completely new to it all having grown up in the concrete jungle.

The yard was pretty neglected, and had several shrubs grown wild and tangled up, and debris scattered around. Long story short, two months ago we hired someone to clean up the debris, dig up the old shrubs, level with top soil and reseed the lawn (a topic of its own). After removing the bushes, he left some plants that look like ferns or hostas for the meantime while we thought about and researched what we want to eventually plant there.

Yesterday, I decided to dig around in the soil to try the drainage test. It was also pouring rain the day before, if that matters.

One section of the soil bed has the most plant growth and gets the most full sun. This was easy to dig into, but disappointed to still find some debris and pieces of slate, and lots of old roots. Water drained after about 1.5 hours.

The second section that I dug was also easy, saw a few earthworms and snails, and the plant growth was moderate compared to the previous section. Water drained very quickly, about 20 mins.

The third section I dug, under the shade of a tree, I could barely scratch the surface! I couldn't tell for sure but it felt like I was hitting a tree root. This was about 8-10 feet away from the tree. I was only able to dig a very shallow hole another two feet further, with much effort. The plants here were small and not in good health.

We have finally decided we want to grow peonies, hydrangeas, a lilac bush and maybe a type of Weigala.

Do I just throw on some bagged compost and try my best to mix it in as much as possible? For the third section that I had trouble digging, Do I simply leave the compost on top and give it some time? How much compost and how much time? What about chicken or cow manure? Top soil?

Will the potential of tree roots be a concern in this section? We were hoping to plant hydrangeas here that would probably benefit from the tree shading the afternoon sun.

thanks for any and all advice

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