The Q&A Archives: Dry Soil

Question: My house is 119 yrs. old, when we moved in 2 yrs ago I was anxious to get the gardens in shape after much neglect. I planted lots and lots of perennials and bulbs but this past years growing season was minimal. Is there anyway I can improve the dry, hard soil that already has lots of stuff planted underneath?

Answer: I can imagine your excitement to get your garden started! But, as you found out, if your soil is poor, there's no point in rushing to get it planted before amending the soil. For garden areas that are not yet planted, add compost in spring and fall, and plant annuals for at least a year or two. Then put in the perennials when the soil is looking healthier from the added compost. For the areas that you have already planted, water well and then mulch with the finest shredded bark that you can find. It will quickly decompose adding much needed organic matter to your soil. It may take 2 or 3 years before you see a big difference, but a change will come. The alternative is to pull out all the plants and amend the soil with lots of leaves, compost and other organic materials, and then replant. That's a lot of work if your also trying to work on your 119 yr. old home! Be patient and add mulch -- all is not lost!

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