Soil Question

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  #1  
Old 09-11-05, 10:44 PM
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Soil Question

When we bought our house, the soil with mulch on top reached the bottom piece of our cedar siding. Our home inspection specified that it needed to show at least a 6" clearance from top of soil to bottom of siding.

I've just dug up most of the mulch and some soil right underneath that because I wanted to possibly plant some bulbs. We also found out that just about 4" below the mulch and top soil, there is very hard-as-a-rock white clay. So... This weekend I'm going to be breaking it up and/or softening it to take out.

I was thinking of doing a Organic Humus and Top Soil mix. Or should I just go straight Organic Humus? They're the same cost. And how far should I dig down through the clay? How much Organic Humus/Top Soil should I add?

Thanks for the future replies!
PottersDaughter
 
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  #2  
Old 09-16-05, 07:54 PM
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Don't plant right next to the foundation. Go out a bit.

You don't say what kind of bulbs, but many are planted 6-8 inches deep. The roots go down a bit more.

I'd go with the organic humus. If you can find it, get something called "mushroom" mix. No, the local big box won't carry it. You need to call some landscape and/or nurseries to find it.
Dig down a foot or more and work the organic material in.

One more thought - are you sure its clay? Is white clay common in your area? Are you sure its not left-over building material? If its building material, remove it.
Not sure if its common? If your lot is fairly flat, go out into the yard 10 or 15 feet and dig. Do you find the same material?
If your house sits on a "hill", what you see is the dirt/clay from where they dug out your basement.
 
  #3  
Old 09-18-05, 09:33 PM
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Hubby and I started to take off the top dirt today. The top we loosened up using a tool identical to the "claw". We're probably going to rent a tiller next weekend to make the job faster and MUCH easier. We bought 15 bags of humus to start, and are going to put that on top of the good dirt we're taking off of the top. Should I mix the dirt and humus together, or just put down the dirt and then humus on top? That's what I was going to do. Dig out the clay then add the dirt and about 2 inches of humus on top.

Yes, I'm almost positive it's clay. I live in North-west Louisiana, and we don't have basements. I doubt it's building material. I've seen clay before and this seems to be the same thing many people here have. The claw contraption we have will loosen the top up if we work it hard, but this stuff is so incredibly stubborn. On top of 100 degree heat, we opted to rent a tiller next week. lol

As for the flower beds, they're right up against the house. Our home is U-shaped (but boxed-style). Our front door is recessed in the front center, and the flower bed is on both side of the walkway and in front of one of the front areas (actually our garage - which the door is on the side of the house, not front). There's only about a foot to a foot and a half tops on the garage side, then the walkway from the driveway to the front door. So if I want to plant something there, I guess it would kind of need to be a dense plant? Maybe just stick to shrubs right there? I've dug up many a tough roots in this bed so far, and so I know that things have been planted and survived.

Any recommendations again? I will certainly consider digging up at least a foot. That way I have enough soft soil for the plants/roots to thrive. Right?

Thanks so much!!
PottersDaughter
 
  #4  
Old 09-19-05, 08:24 AM
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The whitish clay is gumbo. I recall the dubious pleasures of gumbo from the years I lived in Beaumont and Lake Charles. Tough as nails when dry, sticky as tar when wet.

Mix the soil and amendments together to improve the soil. I would work the soil down 6 inches, then make the planting hole for a plant as deep as necessary and amend the soil when planting. Work the soil throughout, but plant away from the house. The roots will use the space available. Plants should not touch the house to avoid moisture problems for the house. Small yaupons are slow growing, dense, and resistant to drought. Ground covers such as liriope, both clumping and spreading, can be used to fill the open ground beneath the plants. If you have full sun, seasonal plants such as Stella d'Oro daylilies will provide color all season until frost. These could be mixed with the shrubs. Most of the plants of size for this space will have the majority of the roots in the top 4 inches or so of the soil.

Wherever you plant a shrub, be sure to drill down through the gumbo and backfill with soil to keep water from pooling in the hole where the plant is.

Hope this helps.
 
  #5  
Old 09-20-05, 11:21 AM
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Gumbo. I love it! lol And thank you very much for your plant suggestions. There is an area that is an actual pre-existing flower bed in our front yard, up against the house. This particular section I'm talking about is about a foot in depth (from the house towards the street) and about 20 feet in length. Do you think some small, basic shrubs would be alright to plant there? Any suggestions on that particular space? I'm more partial to a "clean cut" style, so plants that can be trimmed or easily maintained like-so would be my first preference.

Thanks again everyone! You are all so so so helpful to this first-time homeowner and gardener.

PottersDaughter
 
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