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

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Thursday - March 04, 2010

From: Hillsdale, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Wildflowers
Title: Meadow planting on a shale slope with shallow soil in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

Need to elaborate on my previous question which I am sure will produce a different response. We have a very large slope, near the top of a very long driveway, that is in a sunny location and comprised of shale. There is no top soil at all. Some weeds and grasses do grow in the soil, but not many. Looking for plants that will grow and spread, without watering, in this difficult environment. Would love the look of a meadow, as it is a country house and is part of the entrance.

ANSWER:

I'm afraid that we won't be able to help you much more than we already have as I can't really envision your situation. 

You say there is no soil but that grasses and weeds grow so you will have to find plants that are as tough as they are.  We recommend that you take a soil sample to your County Extension Office to have it analysed and then follow their recommendations.  You could take the list we generated for you and see if they can narrow it further for you. You may also find the article on Weeds as Soil Indicators at garden-helper.com interesting.

Once you have an idea of which plants you would like to try you will be faced with how to get them established.  Whether you choose seeds or small plants, you will have to provide some water. 

Check out our How To Article on Establishing a Wildflower Meadow to see what you are up against.  You will have to decide if you can turn this idea into a reality.

Again, we recommend you check with a local expert and follow their advice.  Good luck with your endeavor ... may all your weeds be wildflowers!

 

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