Avatar for Sunnijz
May 10, 2020 12:32 PM CST
Thread OP
(Zone 8b)
Hello...I have a large garden/planter area out back where the soil has eroded over the years. It's really hard to dig, because what little soil that's there feels as hard as concrete and there are lots of tree roots, extending from a large tree. I'd like to have a garden but don't know where to start. Do I order soil to be brought in to replenish the area, *or* do I need to cultivate in order to bring up what may be compacted there? How do you replace soil that's seems to have eroded and tree roots are now exposed? Thank you!
Avatar for thommesM
May 11, 2020 9:01 AM CST
Name: Thomas Mitchell
Central Ohio (Zone 6a)
Have you considered raised beds? You could bring in compost and place it on top of the planting area. That would get you planting the fastest. I do raised beds and then focus on the soil in the raised beds, with the understanding that the soil doesn't end at the bottom of the bed; the bed is an extension of the soil that it's sitting on top of. I add several inches of compost, either home made or bulk, to the beds every year to maintain fertility.

I have found that adding good soil/compost to the top of poor soil will eventually help the poor soil. Talking many months to years depending on the quality of the poor soil.

One thing I would not do is till the area. Some people would til and add compost. I find that destroys the soil structure and it will just return to brick/concrete hardness in time. Adding fertile compost/mulch to the top on a regular basis lets the soil structure/organisms remain undisturbed and they will do the work for you.

Also always have something on top of the planting area, either a crop, a mulch, even cardboard. This layer will help maintain water moisture and worms love cardboard. :)

And of course if you don't compost and you can... I would.
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May 11, 2020 9:56 AM CST
Name: Christie
Central Ohio 43016 (Zone 6a)
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Welcome! I too would go with a raised bed. Before adding the compost, I would probably add a layer of newspaper and/or cardboard to the ground first. It will help the soil, and also temporarily block any weeds that want to grow from the existing soil. When the leaves fall this autumn, I would dump them onto the bed - shredded with the lawnmower if you can, whole if you cannot. Do not dig up the soil - it will disturb the structure, microorganisms and their pathways in the soil. Consider your bed a work in progress - it will get better with time. Also start a compost pile so you can add your own compost to the bed every year. Good luck and happy growing!! I tip my hat to you.
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May 12, 2020 6:51 AM CST
Name: Sally
central Maryland (Zone 7b)
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Beware the tree roots. For the ttree heatlh, you should not build up a heavy soil layer over too many roots. And any hole you dig or new soil you add will quickly be invaded by tree roots.
What kind of gardening do you have in ind? And how much under the shade of the tree is that?
Plant it and they will come.
Avatar for NewbieGardner
May 13, 2020 10:48 PM CST
Seattle, WA (Zone 8b)
I agree with Mitchell.
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