Help with rhododendron and camellia garden - hard soil

Discussion in 'Ericaceae (rhododendrons, arbutus, etc.)' started by Nomad827, Jun 13, 2021.

  1. Nomad827

    Nomad827 New Member

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    I am looking for help with an issue that I have with my rhododendron and camellia garden. When I first planted the garden 25 years ago I placed landscaping fabric down and then covered it with bark mulch. Over the years the bark has decomposed along with the leaves and the needles from the neighbouring cedar and birch trees. Unfortunately this has created more than an inch of extremely compacted “soil” on top of the fabric. The soil is so hard that water will just roll off it. I attempted to remove the soil and fabric in hopes of exposed the soil underneath. As you can see in the photo I was also removing a substantial amount of the roots. I assume if I were to continue to remove the landscaping fabric and the soil above it I will damage or kill the plants.

    My first thought was to add another layer of mulch but the hard soil underneath would still provide a barrier for the water. The other issue I have with mulch is that it will be a great place for weevils to live. During the early years of the garden weevils were a big problem. My second thought was to use my manual lawn coring aerator (please see photo) to create holes through the hard soil and then add a layer of mulch. Would you have any advice or suggestions on how I can solve this issue?

    Thank you so much for your help.

    Take care

    Michael

    New Westminster. Garden.JPG Soil.JPG Yard Butler.png
     

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  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    The top layer is all roots and these are firm in consistency - this is your "hard soil". So all you have to do is top off the mulch each year, leave the rest alone. As for poking holes this procedure has no effect on the area beyond the holes themselves, be it a rhododendron root layer or a grass turf.
     
  3. Nomad827

    Nomad827 New Member

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    Hi Rob,

    Thank you so much for the quick response. I did not realize that the roots are so shallow and could compact so tightly. I real appreciate the advice and will be adding some mulch asap.

    Take care and stay safe

    Michael
     

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