Stop amending the soil!

picked the spot for the shrub to go. I take the shovel and shave the layer of grass/weeds away about 2 foot around

picked the spot for the shrub to go. I take the shovel and shave the layer of grass/weeds away about 2 foot around

The circle done and start digging the hole. Need to dig about 2-3" around larger than the pot

The circle done and start digging the hole. Need to dig about 2-3″ around larger than the pot

Make sure the pot sits in the hole and you have 2-3" around the pot

Make sure the pot sits in the hole and you have 2-3″ around the pot

Take the plant out of the pot and start to loosen/massage the roots. This is important step

Take the plant out of the pot and start to loosen/massage the roots. This is important step

Pulling the roots apart. If the roots are too tight to pull from being rootbound, then take a knife or use the shovel to cut slits and cut the roots in the bottom of the rootball. then proceed to loosen the roots. this could take a couple cuts  to help

Pulling the roots apart. If the roots are too tight to pull from being rootbound, then take a knife or use the shovel to cut slits and cut the roots in the bottom of the rootball. then proceed to loosen the roots. this could take a couple cuts to help

Pushing your fingers through the roots to untangle them

Pushing your fingers through the roots to untangle them

Loosening the roots and working your way around the root ball.

Loosening the roots and working your way around the root ball.

This is VA red clay soil with lots of rock. The smaller rock do not hurt but take out larger rocks and crumble the soil

This is VA red clay soil with lots of rock. The smaller rock do not hurt but take out larger rocks and crumble the soil

fill in the hole slowly with the crumbled dirt compacting it so there are no pockets. It is important to make sure the roots are covered in dirt. do not compact so tight that no water can penetrate. then mulch 4" for weed control and moisture retention.

fill in the hole slowly with the crumbled dirt compacting it so there are no pockets. It is important to make sure the roots are covered in dirt. do not compact so tight that no water can penetrate. then mulch 4″ for weed control and moisture retention.

For years I did as the experts said and amended the soil when I planted new perennials, shrubs, or trees. I spent money on bags of compost/manure, peat, soil, etc to try and turn my VA red clay soil into fertile ground. for the most part, I had good success but nothing to brag about…
I have a green thumb so I grow many things but I spent time fertilizing and amending the soil to have beautiful plants but I just felt like I was spending too much money and time…

until about 3 years ago when I realized that many plants just did not perform as well as when I would not amend the hole because I felt lazy and did not want to mix up any amendments. I want you to know that I do NOT have good soil. I have VA red clay in most areas of my 1/4 acre lot which has rocks and the pliability to mold a brick. After 5 years though of mulching layers 4″ thick, I have nice beautiful soil about 3 inches down. However, when you dig about 6″ deep I end up hitting my shovel on river rocks and sometimes I end up digging holes that holds water for a day.

I also do not follow the rules of man. I follow what nature shows me.

I do not worry about digging a hole twice the size. Who came up with that anyway? The most important, yes the most important thing you can do for a plant that you put in the ground is the massage and release the roots.
The 2nd most important thing to do for your new plant is to make sure the hole is NOT too deep! Planting a perennial, annual, shrub, or tree too deep will most often times kill it. (There are exceptions like tomatoes) You will not kill a plant by not burying it deep enough which sometimes happen if you hit a tree root or some other object and cannot quite set it in the ground to the depth it is in the pot.
3rd most important thing is watering!

I dig a hole about 2″ larger around for a 8″ pot and up about 2-3″ more for each size of pot. So if you are planting a #5 gall pot I go about 8-10″ out and around so that I can take the soil I took out of the hole and chop it up and work it with my hands to free it from clumps-aerating so to speak-this dirt goes back in the hole along with any dirt that fell off the plant and out of the pot. No fertilizer, no amendments. I only dig down an inch or two because I do not want the plant too low in the hole so that when I put the ground up dirt back in the bottom of the hole for the plant to rest on.

Now, this does not apply to sod or growing grass. I will write about how to have a beautiful lush lawn for about $10 a month in the next post. Growing green grass under Oak trees is a whole other ball game!

Now, there are many who will disagree and that is okay because we each have our own way of doing things. There are rules that always apply but they really are not man made rules-zones, sun/shade, and hardiness that is really natures way of spreading the beauty and keeping things interesting. The individuals who put things in rows or arrange from short to tall…that is a human thing not a nature thing. I personally cannot stand things in rows. Drives me bonkers. Having evergreens for foundation plantings, well, that is something I have to do for my HOA rules and not a personal thing! But my bed that extends from the corner of house and to the driveway and down the drive is my idea of how nature would work if she were a ‘landscaper’. I love color, texture, and varying heights. If you walk in the ‘woods’, the ferns do not tell the grass to step back and grow behind it. My side yard is a culmination of many shade plants in colors, textures, and heights and they are randomly planted where I find a hole or next to another that makes the color of another POP.

The picture is currently my front yard with only Iris and Salvia blooming. Soon the coneflowers, black eyed susans, and daylilies will do their thing along with peonies, and who knows what else I put in there! this fall the Sedum will hold their own and so will the mums. I will update this post as flowers emerge.
My 2nd pic is currently of my side yard shade beds on the right of the house where you will see all kinds of hosta, coral bells, columbines, foam flowers, ferns, toad lilies and whatever else pops up!

Gardening is not about the rules but about the passion. If I listened to someone when they told me I could not grow that there, then my yard would be boring! Try new things and do not think in rows and think outside the box. Mother Nature scatters her seeds in the wind and they grow where they will. Create your palette with this in mind!

Happy gardening!

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