Answer: If you can rent a rototiller and incorporate lots of organic matter into the soil, you'll be able to plant in the area. Without loose and friable soil, not many plants will grow. If you cannot rototill the entire area, at least try to dig a large planting area and incorporate some compost prior to planting. If you choose drought tolerant plants they should adapt to your hard soil. Or, failing that, how about building raised beds and filling them with topsoil, or planting in large containers such as half-whiskey barrels? Containers and raised beds will allow you to control the type of soil (I use a 3-way topsoil mix) and your plants should thrive.
Good luck with your landscape!
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