The Q&A Archives: prepare soil

Question: We just moved to this area. It is a brand new development with red dirt. It is very hot (103 today) and very dry. I have purchased several plants but as soon as I planted them they died. All my roses and shrubs. I put steer manure/planting soil in the ground but it is just too hot. How should I prepare the soil? I'm giving up this year! Thanks,judith f.

Answer: Don't give up! Just spend the rest of the summer preparing the soil and keeping the weeds down and your landscape will be ready to plant this fall when the weather cools. It's always best to plant in the spring or the fall when temperatures are cool and rainfall usually abundant. Your red dirt is clay and you can amend the planting areas with organic matter to loosen the soil and make it a better place for plant roots to live. Then, if you choose plants that will grow in either sun or shade, depending upon what your garden offers, you should have much more success.

Start by hauling in some organic matter; compost, aged-manure, shredded leaves - whatever is available in your area. Spread 4-5" over the top of your planting beds and dig it in 8-10" (or rototill) to mix it with the native soil. Level the area and then lay weed barrier over the entire bed to suppress weeds over the summer months. In the fall, choose your plants and plant them in the bed, making holes in the weed barrier to accommodate the plants. You can cover the exposed weed barrier with bark or decorative rocks. Your new beds should be weed free for years if you follow this suggestion.

Good luck with your new landscape!

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