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Anemic-looking goldenrod -- soil vs sun?

3 months ago

In the photo, on the left is a goldenrod just picked from a trailside here in Washington, D.C. On the right is one from my back yard. Its seeds came from the same patch where the one on the left was growing.

I'm trying to enable the yard to become a pollinator habitat, i.e. putting in no labor except sowing seeds and clearing out dead material at the end of winter.

The recent conditions of my yard are as follows: the builder of our new house laid waste to it during construction three years ago. After two years of sowing goldenrod and bur marigold (Bidens cernua) the soil presumably has gone from wretched to just bad. There are trees on the east border that cast shadows over most of the yard in the morning. The Bidens has flourished, but the first year I got no goldenrod at all.

So my question is what is the likely relative contribution of soil vs sunlight to the difference between the two specimens?

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