The Q&A Archives: Snowball Bush And Mud

Question: We moved into our house a year ago. In front of the front door was mud. I tilled it up, added peat, laid fabric to retard weeds, planted, put several inches of pea rock. Last fall, we had some basement damage so had to walk over this area excessively. It is now pretty packed down. Can I pull up the fabric, till in this pea rock and plant again? This spot sure could use the drainage but will the pea rock be bad on the flowers I put in there? Only gets shade. Last spot for the snow to disapear. Also, is a snowball bush the same as a hydraingea?

Answer: While the pea gravel will certainly help with drainage to some extent, in my experience you will also want to add more organic matter to help the soil hold air as well as water. This could be compost, rotted leaves, aged stable manure and bedding or milled spagnum peat moss, for example. I am a little bit concerned that it is so wet by your foundation, though. Do be sure that any over riding drainage or runoff problem has been fixed or you may be digging up the basement again down the road due to water problems. Finally, rather than gravel, this time you may want to use an organic mulch such as shredded bark or straw so that it can help feed the soil on an ongoing basis as it breaks down. If you prepare your soil correctly at the outset and keep it mulched with a several inch layer, you should not have much of a problem with weeds so you might also dispose of the fabric.

A snowball bush could be either a type of hydrangea or possibly a type of viburnum.

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