The Q&A Archives: Beginning A Rock Garden

Question: I would like to start a rock garden with mostly perennials in an area that is exposed to full sun and shade. Our mailbox used to be located in this spot and poison ivy grew there so we sprayed it with Triox. Right now there is moss and weeds and some grass there. What do I do to prepare the soil for a rock garden without removing the moss? What kind of plants would you suggest? The spot is 6'x4' and is slightly sloped to the road. It has been about a year since we sprayed the Triox. Thank you for any help that you can give me.

Answer: Generally speaking, most perennial beds are prepared by first removing the existing vegetation and then loosening the soil and working in an ample supply of organic matter. In this case, in order not to disturb the moss, you could prepare generously sized individual planting holes for your perennials.

Some sturdy perennials to consider for a slope in sun to part sun would be creeping phlox, coreopsis, daylilies, dwarf bearded iris, salvia, purple cone flower, black-eyed Susan, catmint, plumbago, perennial geraniums and assorted sedums. You could also add some spring-flowering bulbs such as crocus. After planting, be sure to apply a layer of mulch and water regularly the first summer to help the plants establish themselves.

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