I am by no means a 'professional,' quite the opposite. I have been gardening for all of 1 year, but this is the only part of Gardenweb that seems to be the right place for my questions.
My problem is truly terrible soil. It is alkaline and very, very clay-ey. My question(s) is/are how might I most easily, quickly and CHEAPLY amend my soil to allow me to grow the types of plants I'd like. With soil like mine the options are depressingly few. How to amend the soil for a garden space AND how to amend it for trees? Without the use of a backhoe or an army of day laborers.
Please give me directions that are simply stated and easy to follow. What's a bit funny is I took up gardening because I am quite sick and thought it would be a nice, undemanding hobby. Yikes! Lucky for me my very supportive family & friends (thanks Mike, w/o you no holes would be dug) have fallen in love with butterfly gardening (as have I) and so between us all we get the job done.
Some of the trees I've already got in the ground - planted last Fall. Those are: 2 Gingkoes; 1 White Dogwood; 1 Eucalyptus. Is there something I can do to help them out or should I just pray?
The trees I will be planting soon are: 2 (perhaps a third) more White Dogwoods; 1 Crimson King Norway Maple Tree; 1 Hackberry. PERHAPS a Tulip Tree.
The plants I'd like to put into my garden are not set in stone and the list would run too long. I've 8 flower beds to deal with, maximum, but could get away with doing only 3. I plant only perennials and garden for butterflies, their cats and hummingbirds.
Almost forgot. I keep getting different advice regarding the dogwoods. Some insist it should never get full sun, some say it must and yet others say it doesn't matter. What is the best advice as to where they go? We had a gorgeous, very mature white dogwood that had not one but two 70' southern pines fall on it in Gustav. It had partial shade, I suppose you'd call it. I am in Baton Rouge, by the way (in case that has bearing on any advice).
Please help this gardener with more than his feet made of clay?