Amending soil - help please!
Good morning! I'm about to head out to my latest gardening project and I'm procrastinating - mainly because I'm aware of what lies ahead...
Background info: 1) I've never gardened before moving to this property a year and a half ago. 2) There was no landscaping done on this property before I moved here. 3) Every time I go to plant a single plant it turns into a several week project of various stages once I discover what lies immmediately below the surface - hard dense clay under the lawn; a gravel pit of blue gray class A gravel around the perimeter of the house; a lovely grove of Japenese Knotweed on the NW side of the house; and a rock pile at the back. 4) I've dealt with the first three problems to various degrees of succes and I've "broken ground" in the rock pile for my latest project. 5) My entire property slopes at about 45 degrees (I may be exaggerating slightly) from the back of the house to the bottom of my driveway. My neighbour's property to the back (South)is about six feet above my back lawn with a sharp incline my side of their fence that comes down to my lawn about eight feet out.
It is here that I want to create my "Meadow garden" - a rather natural, rustic looking garden (made up somewhat of all the things I don't want elsewhere in my other garden plots) with wild flowers and straw flowers and daisies and poppies and the like. Fortunately, for the sake of erosion and having my neighbours lawn collapse onto mine, this slope is made up of rocks, lots and lots of rocks - big boulders, large and small stones and pebbles. Mixed into this is the driest dirt I've ever seen - it's hard like cement and breaks up into clumps that when I crush the clump the dirt is more like dust than soil.
So far I have "stragetically" placed a few of the large boulders here and there, dug into the slope somewhat. For the Campion, Evening Primrose, "Nearly Wild" Subzero rose bush, daisies, Rudbeckia, Coreopsis grandiflora, etc I have dug holes in behind the boulders or on a fairly "flat" spot, as big as I can, added lots of manure, good 3 in 1 soil, and bone meal and plopped in the plants. Behind each plant of course, instead of being flat ground, there is an inclined "wall" of dirt. I have a few more actual plants to move to this area - a Goldenrod weed from behind the shed, some Allegro poppies, and then some Carnation poppie seeds. I will follow the same plan with these plantings (except for the seeds, of course, which I will throw on a patch of ground that I dig up and amend as I do for the holes).
So my question is this.... around the remainder of the slope I want to lay newspaper (to block weed growth)overwhich I will dress with pine bark nuggets. Next spring I want to move some of the nuggets away and plant my wild flower and straw flower seeds intermixed amongst the already established plants. I'm sure they won't grow in the dry dirt that has not been amended, but I'm not prepared to dig up the entire slope and amend the soil 1) I don't want to disturb the integrity of my "retaining wall" and 2) I have a hernaited disc in my back and I just don't have the physical energy (or mental energy) to undertake such a task. So I'm wondering what I should do before I lay the newspaper/bark down that will allow for happy plants but be the least physically arduous on me.
I have peat moss, manure, black earth in bag fulls. Do I scratch the surface of the dry dirt throw on some of the PM, M, and BE and then cover with the newspaper? How does soil combine? Do I actually have to stir it up well or does mother nature do that with rain? Oh, and I'm a little OCD where rocks are concerned. Whenever I see one, I have to pick it up and collect it in a bucket for the next trunk load to dump. This scares me w.r.t the prospect of scratching the surface of the dry dirt in order to amend it because I know I will find 8,729,345 rocks under the surface. That's a lot of buckets!
Help! Thank you, so much... Karen