The Q&A Archives: What to Plant this time of Year

Question: Hello- I have a large Oval area that I have pull ed all my lawn out of and now it is Bare dirt- But I thik It is Bad dirt because there is alot of tree roots and gravel- Probably spill off from the neighbors yard. It sits at the top of a slope and moves down hill toward the Drive Way- It is so hot right Now can I plant anything??
First I thought just Wild Flower seed but wont even that require some kind of top soil?
Thanks MArcie

Answer: August is not a very good time to plant because it is so hot, this stresses new plants that are not yet well rooted. It would be better to wait until September for planting.

In the meantime, you can prepare the soil and then layer mulch over the bare ground. Mulch will help protect the soil as well as make the area look better. The mulch will protect the area from erosion and will also help feed the soil slowly over time as it breaks down.

To prepare the soil, run some basic soil tests to check fertility and soil pH. Then add fertilizer and/or lime based on the test results and based on what you are going to grow. Most plants will also benefit from the addition of organic matter such as good quality compost, rather than top soil. Loosen the soil and work in your amendments, then level it and top with several inches of organic mulch.

When you plant, pull or rake the mulch aside, then replace it around the plants to cover their root areas and in between them. It should not touch the plant stems.

Your local Penn State cooperative extension should be able to help you with the soil testing and interpreting the results. They may also have plant recommendations based on a more detailed understanding of the growing conditions in your oval. Good luck wiht your project!

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