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Bridget from Ohio. Problems with bad soil.

steve like many other columbus, OH residents, i have a problem: a postage-stamp sized garden plot behind my apartment with crappy, gooey clay soil and about 3-4 hours of morning sunlight, half filtered by large growth deciduous trees.

i have a good start on a decent garden with some hostas, seedums and lamb's ear. columbines, spiderwort, lilies-of-the-vally and vincas give me a little color, but are there any other shade-loving plants that actually bloom? how about some variegated foliage plants to add interest (coleus seems quite unhappy here).

since i rent, i won't be building any raised beds. last year, i added some peat moss, sand and soil conditioner to the ground. we'll see if that helped. and there's no room to compost. any other enrichments that you recommend?

thanx for the natural pest control tips, published in the Westerville News.


Hi Bridget

Ground enrichments that I would recommend would be a product called soft soil. It breaks down the ionization of the soil to keep it from running together. You might also use pine bark mulch. It will add organic matter into your soil and break it up a bit. You may want to till it into the soil to start then use more as a dressing around your plants.

As far as what to plant in the wet shady areas would be variegated hostas ferns and astilbes.

For trees: Dogwoods like semi-shade. Low growing trees like redbud, Japanese maples, Flowering cherries. Ornamental grasses in different heights for background and even for specimen planting.

Consider some plants in large pots for a container garden. Beautiful gardens can be framed and accented with plants used in attractive pots.

Portable fountains, glass gazing balls, concrete formed items. All will add interest and texture to your garden.

Use your garden as a canvas. Nature as your pallet. And the eyes to your soul to create your living and ever-changing master piece.