Frequently asked questions regarding growing native plants

How do I amend the soil in my yard for growing native plants?  

Contrary to some folks' beliefs, clay is actually a wonderful soil for our native plants!  It holds moisture and nutrients better than sandy soil, for sure.  Our native species "grew up" with this clay soil, and it's what they're best adapted to grow in.  If the soil is too rich, as would happen with the substantial addition of "good" garden soil, our native plants are prone to be overly floppy.  If you allow a natural humus layer to build up by letting old leaves decompose, your plants will have everything they need-- no need to fertilize or amend the soil!

What is the best way to plant my new plants?

When I introduce new plants to my yard, I typically dig a hole that is a bit bigger than the root ball of the new plant.  Then I pour a few inches of water into the hole, insert the plant, and then fill in the rest of the hole with the soil I had just removed.  If it seems like a bit more soil is needed to fill the hole (which may seem odd, but does happen), I add a bit of bagged garden soil.  Then I tamp down the soil around the plant, water it, and spread a bit of mulch or dead leaves from the surrounding area just to lightly cover the surface of the soil in the area I disturbed. I then moisten the top layer a bit.  I will then typically water the new plant every couple of days for a couple of weeks, and then once every few days for a few weeks. 

How often should I water my plants?

After plants have been established in the yard for more than a month, they get little care from me.  I do have a drip irrigation system set up in the yard in case of drought conditions (which have been all too common recently) because I have way too many plants to hand-water.  If we get less than half an inch of rain per week for more than a few weeks in the growing season (April to October), I will water the plants.  But under normal conditions, if I have put the plant in the right place, it should be able to fend for itself after it's been in the ground for a month or so..