[NAFEX] soil amendment - not really fruit

Ginda Fisher list at ginda.us
Tue Oct 27 17:55:06 EDT 2009

Apologies for a soil question regarding my lawn and ornamentals.  But  
you guys know a lot about soil, and perhaps will be kind enough to  

I had a patio installed in my yard this summer, and the installers  
leveled some land and filled with a lot of rock dust.  They also  
compacted a lot of my soil driving the rock dust and equipment up to  
the back of the yard.  So the soil needs some work, especially the  
stuff that has a lot of compacted rock dust.

They finished by spreading some topsoil (well, sort of) and planting  
grass.  The grass came up pretty much everywhere, but is thin in areas  
where I suspect the soil it too compacted or is shy on topsoil  I also  
planted some ornamentals (the weeping redbud you guys teased me about  
and a lot of epimedium) right around the patio.  These are already  
planted (yeah, maybe I should have amended the soil first) and the  
growing season is coming to a close.

The area is shady, under oaks.  It's on top of a hill, and the  
undisturbed part of my soil is very well drained.  Like, we were all  
astonished at how incredibly dry the soil was when they dug the  
foundation, and when I fill a hole with water let's just say it's hard  
to actually "fill" a hole.  I marvel at descriptions of waiting an  
hour for the hole to drain.  The native subsoil is mostly a fine  
yellowish dust interspersed with varying sized chunks of granite.  The  
native topsoil is brown matted oak roots.  (only partly kidding.)

The two obvious things I can use to amend my soil are:

*  Oak leaves, shredded or whole (I will have a huge crop in a week or  
*  A bag of earthworm castings from "Coast of Maine"*

I also have some compost at the bottom of the pile where I toss the  
excess leaves every year.  It's slightly enriched with vegetable  
scraps my husband dumps there.

Do you think it would help or hurt the lawn if I spread a thin coat of  
shredded leaves over the area with poor soil?
How deeply do you think I can mulch the epimedia and red bud with  
shredded leaves?
Do you think the earthworm casings will help the epimedia and red  
bud?  How much would you spread?
Any other suggestions?

Thanks for any advice.

Ginda Fisher
Eastern MA, zone 6

*  I don't think I would have bought these, but to those of you who  
remember my trouble growing tomatoes in a pot of their soil, this is  
part of my compensation from them.  They delivered replacement potting  
soil and this bag of earthworm casings by way of apologizing for my  
being misled by their labeling.

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