The Q&A Archives: Soil

Question: Brought a house but the backyard soil has been used by a dog for the bathroom. There is a tree and the soil is hard, what can I do to start a garden in it?

Answer: Most flowers and vegetables grow best in a full sun location, meaning sun for at least six hours a day including the hour of noon. For vegetables, direct sun all day would be best. If the tree is shading the area, you may want to consider a different part of your yard. Trees send out roots well beyond their branches. You would want to avoid tree roots in placing your garden as well.

To prepare the area for planting you would need to remove any existing vegetation either by digging it out or using an herbicide containing glyphosate. Read and carefully follow all of the label directions. Next, loosen the soil down about a foot deep, work in a generous amount of organic matter such as compost, well rotted leaves, or well aged stable manure/bedding, then level the garden and rake it smooth.

You should also run some basic soil tests to see if you need to fertilize and if you need to lime to adjust the pH. Your local Penn State extension should be able to help you with the soil testing and interpreting the results. They may also have some suggestions as to the best varieties to grow in your local area.

Enjoy your garden this summer!

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