Last summer, much to my relief, I was able to move to a new (to me) home. While the old place had its problems, soil wasn't one of them. Especially when I left, it had a lovely sandy loam. Nearly everything I tried, grew, until the rosy apple aphids, or black vine weevils, or rabbits, aster yellows, or the darling neighborhood children got to it.
When I looked at the new place, I suspected the soil wasn't as good. There was dark loam in all of the beds, but I suspected more clay here than at the old house. I also saw a little landscape fabric peeking out. How much of that was there? Time was of the essence since I had already sold my old house. Plus I doubted in this market that I could take a bunch of soil samples and wait for the results before buying. While the landscape wasn't necessarily to my liking, it was pretty well established, healthy, and growing, so how bad could it be?
This photo was taken the week after I moved in last August.
I didn't do anything last summer except cut the grass. After the first rain I knew was right about the clay. Some puddling here and there, and a spot alongside the hill that was a fairly steep slope got mighty slippery.
There were also indications in the landscaping that the soil might not be ideal. A few plants were in (too) small berms.
Were the berms for soil issues or just for decoration? The answer would have to wait.
While I wait and plan for perennials I thought I'd throw in a few annuals from seed in a nice sunny spot. That spot in the pic above next to the deck (where the iron table and chairs are) has a great southern exposure. Perfect.
But now the question(s) - I know the first step in any home sale is ordering a load of mulch. I did it myself. The question is, what happens then? It could be topping up perfectly maintained beds so the color is even and fresh. I've also seen someone mow down all the existing perennials, shrubs, and weeds to the ground, and just dump mulch on top, with a few colorful shrubs from the big box store popped in for that "TV 'garden' show came through and redid our gardens in a weekend" look. That will be a huge mess when everything comes back the next year. Not to mention, the landscape fabric question.
Time for some exploratory digging.
Well, the mulch certainly isn't a quick cover-up. These beds have been mulched repeatedly. The broken-down old mulch must be 4" thick and looks great. But look what's underneath it.
Will the rest of the yard be as bad? Stay tuned! Soil samples from the lawn headed to MSU today. They had clay in them too, but obviously not the yellow, lifeless stuff from under the landscape fabric. Can't wait to see what other surprises come back from that.
Just a reminder - if you have Asian Ladybugs like I do, and you have double-hung windows (with screens that don't go all the way up) there's an easy, nonlethal, non-smelly/juicy way to get them out. Just unlock the window and lower the top sash. It doesn't take much - a quarter inch is plenty. Windows in the sun work best. They will politely see themselves out, to go to work in your garden.