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bornagain_gw(z4 IA)April 30, 2006

I am planning a trip from Iowa to look at some land in Arkansas between Batesville and Cave City. Anyone near this area that would be willing to share about shade gardening in that zone. Pros, cons or tips. I grew up there, but that was 30 years ago and was never exposed to gardening then. Looking for a warmer climate for retirement.Thank you so much!


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You should be able to find what you need here:

Landscaping in Missouri

Scroll down to publication 6911, Gardening in the Shade.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 10:20AM
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Hi Mary,

I'm not from Batesville or Cave City, but rather 1.5 hrs away in Jonesboro. I've explored caves in that area. What fun! I love being in "the belly of the earth". Before you buy, be sure to check the soil. That area is very rocky. So if you wanna garden there, take a garden fork or shovel and check the soil to see what it's made of.

Shade gardening here is like anywhere else I guess. We do get hot and I haven't had any luck with gunneras and ligularias, but then I don't water much. Hostas, ferns, and other shade lovers do very well for me here in Ark.

When you move into this area, holler at me. I always have some extra plants to share.


    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 12:42PM
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Hi Mary - I'm in SW Missouri so I don't know anything about land in Arkansas but here it can vary a lot from one yard to the next not only how rocky it is but even how acidic the soil is. I have LOTS of rocks. Nancy Ann has a good idea about taking a shovel with you. The type of trees can make a big difference on how easy a shade garden will be. Try to note what type of trees there are and what is growing underneath them. If you see areas where NOTHING is growing, I would take that as a bad sign. If there's a good variety of weeds or grass, then garden plants can grow there too. I have to water my shade garden in July and August when it's hot and dry and of course some plants need more water than others. I've nearly given up on ferns. I wish I had a few deep rooted oak trees to garden under but I don't. I have mostly shallow rooted trees.
Good luck with your search.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 7:27PM
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bornagain_gw(z4 IA)

Thank you for the replies. We took a trip down to look at the land. It was really pretty. Lot of oak trees overlooking a lake with a gentle slope down to the water. I did take the garden fork along. Good idea. I was able to get the fork in the ground. The dirt was not red like the clay, but is full of small rocks. I'm use to good Iowa soil with no rock and very fertile. What is the best way to work in this type of situation? Raised beds, remove and replace soil for beds, any better suggestions? I have tons of plants that I want to move.Too much invested to leave. Thank you so much!

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 8:46AM
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Hi Mary - I got your email but decided to post here in case others want to share advice on rocks as well. Under trees it's difficult to dig out rock and you might damage the tree roots even if you could. It can also damage the trees to add too much topsoil over the root area so I try to compromise a little. Where I've put in shade gardens, first I sprayed the area with Round Up to kill weeds and grass. I don't dig up the sod or try to get the rocks out at this point. It's best to wait a couple weeks so you can see if you've missed any spots with the Round Up. When the grass/weeds are dead, you can cover with several layers of newspaper and then put a few inches of compost or mulch over that. I use wood mulch that I got delivered free from a tree trimming company. I'm on a low budget and it doesn't seem to be causing any problems. Ideally, it might be better to do a layer of compost or loamy soil, then a layer of newspapers, then mulch over that but compost is more expensive. When I make planting holes for each plant, I brush back the mulch, make a cut in the newspapers and dig a hole slightly larger than the rootball. I remove rocks then mix in good soil or compost into the planting hole. Sometimes I run into a large rock and if I'm not in a stubborn mood, I just change my plan a little and start over in another spot.
Actually it works pretty good even without the RoundUp but
if you happen to have Burmuda grass which sends out runners both along the top of the soil and down very deep, it's very hard to kill and best to get rid of BEFORE you start. Tip - Allow your weeds to grow several inches tall before spraying and apply in late morning on a sunny day for best results.
I garden the same way in my sunny areas. This is just the way that works for me and I'm sure there are other ways to do it that work just as well. I pamper my back more now that I'm getting older and try not to dig more than I have to. Also hate to get rid of precious top soil by removing sod since I don't think I have quite enough as it is.
Sounds like a very pretty setting. A "Gentle slope" has a lot of potential if you like terracing or steps. My yard is pretty flat but I have looked through a couple books from the library that had beautiful photos like the one below.
I wonder how many deer there are in the area. I think that could be harder on your plants than the rocks.

Here is a link that might be useful: Hillside Landscaping

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 2:08PM
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