Bad soil? - Knowledgebase Question

Ontario, Ca
Question by christinegor
April 7, 2010
I have a planter in my full sun backyard that is roughly about 10' long and 1.5' wide. We moved into this home a year ago, and ever since then, I cannot seem to be successful in growing anything in this little planter. I have planted evolvus, azalea, hibiscus, and now sweet broom in this planter, and all have lead to the plants dying. What could be wrong with this soil? What can I do to solve it?


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Answer from NGA
April 7, 2010

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I'd be inclined to dig through the soil and remove any plant debris and old roots and then amend the soil with some organic matter to ensure it drains well. You can enrich your soil over a period of years and end up with rich garden loam if you add organic matter. Start by removing all vegetation from the area and spreading 4-5 inches of organic matter over the bed. You can use compost, aged manure (fresh manure can be too hot and might contain weed seeds), shredded leaves or whatever organic matter is readily available in your local area. Dig this organic matter into the soil - the complete depth of your planter. Plant, and then mulch over the bare soil between the plants with additional organic matter. A 2-3 inch layer will help suppress weeds and slow water evaporation. At the end of the season dig the organic matter into the soil and add a fresh layer. Repeat this process annually and you'll end up with rich garden loam - and a spectacular garden. Enjoy!

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