What to plant in bed with clay soil and fair drainage.

junebugntn(7B)July 8, 2012

Looking for suggestions for an existing (2 year old) foundation bed that is having problems with some of the spreader yews and encore azaleas in the bed. Most of the problem is probably related to having only fair drainage. May start moving things around in the fall. Variegated abelia is doing well. Most daylilies are ok. Just planted Catawba crepe myrtle. Some yew and azaleas are fine others have yellowing leaves. 1-2 hrs sun in part of bed, 3 hrs afternoon sun in all of the bed. About 250 sq ft. Have amended clay soil as I planted and have drip irrigation. However receiving advise that this can exacerbate the problems.

Would like to know how others work in these conditions and what they have found that succeeds.

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esh_ga

Well-amended soil is not a problem; spot-amended soil is a problem (that is you only amend the planting hole that you just created).

Hot afternoon sun demands tough plants and I personally don't think that is ideal for azaleas. Dwarf hollies are usually pretty reliable, like dwarf yaupon holly. Fothergilla is a native shrub that handles full sun; you may want the dwarf form if space is tight. Another plant to consider is deciduous holly - Ilex verticillata. Naturally grows in not-well draining clay soils. There are lots of cultivars available (you do need females and at least one male, so make a small group).

If you're not using mulch, that is usually a good thing in the south.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2012 at 7:38AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

junebug, I live in Northern Alabama...in red clay country. It drains quite well, considering that it's heavy clay. We plant anything and everything directly into the native soil, absolutely NO amending. We did til in some composted bark when we build our perennial gardens, but that stuff has long disappeared. Mulch is a necessity (and disappears quickly, too).

I'd like to know a bit more about what you mean by 'fair drainage'. Is the lawn still squishy three or four hours after a heavy downpour?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 4:30PM
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junebugntn(7B)

So when I plant a shrub, tree or perennial I've always added Black cow. Are you saying don't bother? I mulched my perennial and foundation beds with oak wood chips which decomposed pretty quickly and have made improved the clay a bit. Lately added pine straw as a mulch. But the particular bed I'm having trouble with also gets a good bit of runoff from the drain pipes from the roof. I think most of the yard is not squishy 3-4 hrs after rain.

I've been told the yellowing and dry brown Brittle yews could be from root rot. Thinking about I replanting the 2 that died without amending and not imager as much. Liked the color the azaleas provided but most are very light green. Guess they just might not work out there. So need something to work with the yews, day lilies and catabaw crepe myrtle. Will consider hollies mentioned but would like some spring color.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 10:21PM
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