Answer: You are probably right in that there is a problem with the soil in that spot. Your first "investigative" step is to look around and see if there are any possible problems caused by things like deicing salt washing off a sidewalk every winter, a black walnut tree giving off juglone, a gutter draining into that spot making it soggy, an old accidental spill of fertilizer or gasoline, the "burn pile" was situated there for years and years, that sort of thing. But often a soil problem is not immediately obvious to the human eye -- only to plant roots.
That's when soil testing becomes especially helpful. You might wish to run some soil tests and consult with your County Extension office about possible causes and solutions. They can help you determine which tests to run and how to interpret the results, as well as any suggested amendments. The number in Chester County is 696-3500.
Good luck solving the mystery!
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