Where to Start?

lisaslists2000(7b Charlotte)June 5, 2014

Hi,
I don't even know where to start with this hill. I'm in Union County, NC, and soil is hard clay and rain doesn't usually make it past Charlotte and on to us. :-( Oh, and to add insult to injury, it does get sun in the afternoon, the hottest part of the day... I'd like to do something with less common plants, but if you think just vinca (perriwinkle) or something like that, i can do it. I would welcome any suggestions or link to other posts. Thank you!
Lisa

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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Hosta! Ferns! Hellebores! Azaleas! How many hours of the hot sun does the area get? If it is only a couple, you are good to go.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:26PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

Of course, you will need to water, especially the first year.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 8:28PM
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lisaslists2000(7b Charlotte)

thank you, but i can hardly dig a hole. i know nothing is going to grow. do i try to till it? and there are tree roots. and it's clay that they make bricks out of. i can think of things to plant in a normal place, but this bakes all afternoon and i would have to water very often. we are often on water restrictions in the summer.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2014 at 10:28PM
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cyn427(z7aN. VA)

We have horrid Virginia clay here, so I feel your pain. I would get several small shrubs, so you don't need too large a hole. I always dig after rain-much easier-or my DH goes out and digs for me. He has been known to resort to using a pickax to get started. Some that do well in my dry spots are Abelia, dwarf sweet box, (Sarcococca hookeriana humilis), digitalis pupurea (wild foxglove which isn't a shrub of course, but is so pretty in drifts of 7 or 9 plants), nandina, and hellebores which also will do okay with some sun. I would also go to a local public garden and/or nursery for advice that suits your area. Some hostas can take a fair amount of sun. Check out the Hosta Forum for ideas. Liriope might be good, too. The nandina, liriope, and hellebores will spread, too, after a couple of years. You will need to be patient if you start with smaller plants, but the payoff will be a lovely garden under those trees. Oh, and remember that those trees will grow as well, so you could end up with less sun than you have now!

I am not a fan of those ground covers like vinca. Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) would be a lovely alternative.

Once you plant, you could add a soaker house up on the hill and attach your hose once a week to give the new plants a good soaking once a week when you don't get at least 1-2 inches of rain in a week. I am afraid there is no way around that for the first year. You might be better off to plant in the fall after the really hot summer is mostly past.

Good luck. I am already picturing a lovely hillside there! If you do plant, come back or send a note to me through Garden Web-I am linked on my page for that. I would live to see your progress!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2014 at 2:10PM
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lisaslists2000(7b Charlotte)

cyn427, thank you. that's very helpful. i do have a bunch of soaker hose. you can get ends at box stores or hardware store. or do they require special ends?
Lisa

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 8:26AM
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