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The First Steps are So Important

I recently visited a job where we’re sprucing up a pollinator garden that was installed this past spring. The plants, for the most part, made it through the summer, but nothing was thriving as it should be. A quick inspection revealed the reasons why: a lack of soil prep and improper planting.

We have a lot of clay in our soil in Cincinnati. And while clay is nutrient rich, it’s also lacking ideal air and water circulation, making it difficult for many plants to access vital nutrients. There are plants that can grow in clay, often with the words, Clay Buster, next to them, but relying on such plants dramatically restricts the number of plants a home gardener can use.

Amend the Soil

When we are adding a new garden, there really is no reason why the time and effort should not be invested in preparing the soil.  Working in soil amendments will loosen the clay-rich soil, thus improving air and water circulation.  

Well amended soil is easy to water: the water soaks right in, deep into the soil.

Amended soil makes weeding a breeze for the weeds lift with little effort- roots and all.

I like to plant my gardens in a lush manner- this allows for a really impactful garden right out of the gate. By planting lush, I greatly reduce my need to walk too much in the garden or dig new planting holes in the coming seasons.  The less I’m in the garden and disturbing the soil the better.

Next were the plants themselves. Not only were the plants contending with soil that was clay-heavy and topped with shredded mulch (you know my feelings about shredded mulch!), but the root balls had not been properly loosened when the plants were installed in the spring. As a result, there was very little to no indication that the plants’ roots had grown into the garden bed soil.  We could lift many out of their planting holes and the root ball still maintained the shape of the pot in which they were grown.

It’s a small garden we’re addressing, so the time and effort to correct this issue was not too problematic. But the garden has lost a good year’s worth of growth. 

Removing sod, breaking up the clay, and amending the soil: these are not garden tasks we dream of with delight and eager anticipation, but they should be done. If you want a garden that is easy to care for, will be conducive to a wide variety of plants – those beyond the Clay Busters – and you want to find success in your garden, take the time to prep the soil.  If you don’t have the time or the strength to take on such a project, we can help, just call us.

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