En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Area needing soil amendment in San Diego

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - December 02, 2009

From: San Diego, CA
Region: California
Topic: Compost and Mulch, Soils
Title: Area needing soil amendment in San Diego
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have a dirt area in the corner where my fence comes together. The dirt is clay-like and during the winter the area gets very little, if any, sun and during the summer it gets 4-6 hours of sun. What could I grow here?

ANSWER:

We can go to our Native Plant Database and find several plants that need sun (6 hours or more of sun daily) or part shade (2 to 6 hours daily), but first we need to address the poor soil in your fence corner. While clay has nutrients in it that plants need, it compacts so readily that the tiny little rootlets on plants that are responsible for picking up nutrients and moisture from the soil cannot access them. Since it is now cooler weather and perhaps you are getting some rain, we would suggest you take the opportunity to amend your soil by digging some organic matter, like compost, into it. Really fluff it up and raise the surface level a few inches with the addition of the compost, and not only will the micro-nutrients in the soil be more available, but the drainage will improve a great deal.

Now, on to the plants. You didn't say if you wanted a flower bed, a tree, shrubs, or what, so we are going to go to Recommended Species, click on Southern California, search first on "herb" (herbaceous blooming plant) under General Appearance, then "shrub" and then "tree." You could also search on "grasses" or "cacti and succulents" for more variety. We will give you some suggestions, and you can go from there. Follow the plant links below to find out more about each plant.

Herbaceous blooming plants for Southern California:

Eschscholzia californica (California poppy) - 1 to 2 ft. tall, blooms orange, yellow, February to October, low water use, sun

Penstemon eatonii (firecracker penstemon) 2 ft. tall, blooms red May to August, low water use, part shade

Shrubs for Southern California:

Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry) - 3 to 15 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white April to June, medium water use, sun, part shade or shade

Arctostaphylos patula (greenleaf manzanita) - 3 to 15 ft. tall, evergreen, blooms pink April to June, medium water use, sun

Trees for Southern California:

Cercis canadensis var. texensis (Texas redbud) - 10 to 20 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms pink, purple March and April, medium water use, sun, part shade

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - 15 to 30 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms white, pink, purple April to September, low water use, sun

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:


Eschscholzia californica

Penstemon eatonii

Amelanchier alnifolia

Arctostaphylos patula

Cercis canadensis var. texensis

Chilopsis linearis

 

 

 

More Compost and Mulch Questions

Should shredded Ashe juniper be composted for mulch?
May 06, 2009 - Our neighbor shredded some Texas Hill Country cedar trees. Can we use it safely as mulch? Do we need to wait until it composts some?
view the full question and answer

Limp leaves on Texas purple sage in Magnolia TX
July 22, 2010 - Recently planted Texas purple sage, some of it looks healthy and has new blooms, but a few of the plants have limp leaves and are thin at the bottom. I read the article on cotton root rot, but am not ...
view the full question and answer

Transplanting adventitious shoots of a mountain laurel in San Antonio
August 20, 2009 - Is it possible to transplant branches (shoots) growing from a mountain laurel that was chopped down? Some are two years old and several feet tall (but not yet blooming) and some as small as a foot. ...
view the full question and answer

Perennials for flower bed in Humble TX
July 28, 2010 - I have a 10 foot by 10 foot flower bed that needs to be replanted and I am located in Houston, TX so what would be some good perennials to plant that are good to grow in this heat? I have been told L...
view the full question and answer

Trees for cutout in driveway in Houston
November 12, 2010 - I live in central Houston. I have a new driveway with a cutout of 4' x 8'. I would like to plant a shade tree that will not break up the concrete. What do you recommend?
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center