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planting a dry shaded hillside

Posted by maggiewp PA (My Page) on
Wed, May 16, 07 at 10:44

Hello. We moved into a house that in the back is gradually sloped and wooded (~15 large oaks and numerous saplings on 1/4 acre in back). There is dappled shade mostly. There are a few ferns (wild) and low growth "shrubs"and I've planted some hostas successfully, but the problem is that the soil is not great up there and water runs off of it. We have tried to compost leaves but mostly leaves on the hillside blow down closer to our house so we end up having to rake them to the curb for leaf pickup. Note that it is pretty much impossible to get a chipper back there because of the way our propery is configured. I'm looking for ideas of how to get this area looking better and what I might plant. Basically from the first floor of our house you look out onto the floor of the hillside. If that weren't the ccase, it wouldn't look so drab, FYI in front of this area is a steeper sunny hill that has a beautiful stone wall in front of it. I have been fairly successful with perennials there, but am having some trouble keeping the top of it (where it is steepest) planted. Ivy and vinca that started at the top is migrating down towards the stone wall and competing with my perennials. I'd post a photo if I knew how! Thanks.


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RE: planting a dry shaded hillside

What you could do with the leaves is corral them in temporary cages at least three feet high and wide, open on top and left to rot down for a year or so. They turn into leaf mould that can then be used to improve the soil. It is also useful for adding to potting media but only for acid-loving plants.

The oak roots are always going to be a challenge for gardening. If oak stands are native to your area, and ferns already grow there, what might you do to increase the fern population in suitable places? One thing that might work is to leave branches on the ground to rot down and trap water/leaves behind them. Fungi will sprout there and break down the wood, which then forms a useful moisture-holding base for ferns, mosses, and woodland plants. If you have a rocky soil you can use partial rock barriers but they're not as useful as branches and small logs.


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