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Hopeless backyard?

Posted by deborah123 Northern VA (My Page) on
Tue, Mar 18, 08 at 12:20

Hello all,

I'm new here and desprately trying to find out what I can do with my backyard. I live in Northern VA, a lot of clay, etc. Our house backs to a common area that has very tall mature trees surrounding it, many hang over our yard and therefore most of the yard is shaded. The few mature trees that are in our yard I would hate to cut down (not that I would think it would do any good) as they really are beautiful. Our yard has a decent slope that starts on the side of the house and rolls all the way down. We also have two large dogs. The yard is less than 1/4th acre, fenced with a 3 board. We gave up and mulched with heavy mulch on the sides of the yard around to where our deck is...but the center area is bare dirt at this point. Is there anything that grows well in pretty much ALL SHADE that can stand a slope? We don't have a lot of money to put back there and would hate to spend if it will all die in the long run. Any suggestions? We have a 3 yr old that is dying to go out and play...but it is sooo gross and dirty that we don't let her. We are at the point of thinking of re-homing our dogs as well because of all the dirt they are now bringing into the house...never had the problem when we had grass. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Hopeless backyard?

I'm a great advocate of growing healthy soil. If your soil is hardpan clay, nothing is going to do well. You'll need to amend your soil, which takes time. I had a similar circumstance years ago, so I continued to mulch heavily year after year to keep down the dirt and keep the area looking attractive. After a few years I dug down, and found a rich loamy soil with thousands of earth worms. I now can grow anything in that area and it will do well. If you have the time and money, you can mulch some paths and designate areas for planting after you work the soil. Don't look at the big picture or you'll get frustrated. Start in small areas, and expand as you feel comfortable.

Here is a link that might be useful: My Garden Travels

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