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Starrygirl
neighbors trees and hard pan
Starrygirl

I have kind of two questions. I live in an apartment with a small yard that I would like to do something with. My father, husband and I enlarge the patio a few years ago, but I have two other problems. The rest of the "yard" is pretty much hard pan. You can't even get a shovel into it after soaking it. The other problem is my nieghor behind us has a large tree right up against the fence that over hangs our small yard. The difficult part is it block amost all direct sunlight and also drops 8-10 large garbage bags worth of leaves in our yard. It is a big job to keep them up. I have spoken to the owner of the home and he refuses to have the tree trim back at all. And we don't have the extra money to have what overhangs the fence done. It seems to prevent anything from growing due to the consent banket of leaves. I'm am quite unsure how to handle both. As the consent blanket of leaves seems to attract black widow spiders we really don't go out there and we would like to use it more. Any advice would be helpful.
Thanks

A. Spruce
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
A. Spruce

You have the right to prune any neighbors bushes, shrubs, and trees that encroach on your yard. The fence is the property line and you can cut anything that hangs over it. If the neighbor is unwilling to deal with the tree, then it might be time to give him back the leaves from his tree. Instead of bagging them up, toss them back over into his yard, preferably after he's just raked his side up.

The bad soil on your side will be fun to deal with. If you can't get a shovel into it when it's wet and moist, then breaking it up to get organic matter worked into it will be a chore. If there's enough room to fit a rototiller, that will be the easiest way to do the work. The cure for the bad soil will be to work organic material such as manure or compost as deeply as possible.

Another alternative to improving the soil would be to plant in containers and landscape with pavers and/or decorative gravel.

Debra
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
Debra

instead of bagging the leaves, I would suggest cutting them up and using them to amend the soil you have, using them as mulch, or put them in and designated "raised bed area"

Now I know the yard is hard but the tree seems to have some roots under there since most varieties have roots clear out to the edges of their limbs. I would suggest you find shade loving plants from your local nursery for bedding areas, get the leaves out of it weekly then mulch them with the mower and rake them back into the beds.

Starrygirl
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
Starrygirl

Okay, so if I decide to try and break up the soil and mulch it, how much and what do I use. I am assuming you turn the soil over to mix in the mulch. If not how is the best way. Tilers are risky, my parent actually broke one while trying to creat a garden. So I know I will have to use a pick axe or something similar. Thinkfully the yard is very small. I am pretty much in an area that used to be old fig trees back in the fifties and sixites. I just don't know how far down to go. Also what does mulching do?

A. Spruce
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
A. Spruce
Starrygirl wrote:

Okay, so if I decide to try and break up the soil and mulch it, how much and what do I use. I am assuming you turn the soil over to mix in the mulch. If not how is the best way. Tilers are risky, my parent actually broke one while trying to creat a garden. So I know I will have to use a pick axe or something similar. Thinkfully the yard is very small. I am pretty much in an area that used to be old fig trees back in the fifties and sixites. I just don't know how far down to go. Also what does mulching do?

Let me ask you this, how large is the area and what is your intention with the landscaping of it? With this information I can tell you whether trying to amend the entire area is feasible or necessary.

To answer your other questions, mulch is a top dressing primarily for decorative value, though added benefits are that it helps to keep plant roots cool and hold moisture at the plant. If you are amending the soil, you are adding organic matter in the form of manure or compost. Organic matter improves the nutrient levels as well as the general bio-activity of the soil so that it may sustain life. It breaks up the soil particles, turning hard pan into any level of viable loam wanted or required. It takes work, and it's not necessarily a one time shot to achieve your goal, but with enough time and organic material you can turn dead soil into a rich life giving medium. How deep you amend depends on your plans for the area. Grass only needs a few inches but shrubs need up to a foot in depth.

TRLambert
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
TRLambert

You could always consider raised bed gardening, although even with raised beds it's a good idea to amend or break up the soil down under the raised portion.

If considering raised beds, the method I use is to create a four-sided box out of non-pressure treated wood. You can make this any size you like, but in your situation with the hardpan soil, I would consider going with the widest boards you can afford. I typically use 2"x16" if you can find them. I also not only screw the corners together but use L brackets on the inside for additional strength. Others will suggest using some treatment on the boards to prevent rotting, but I've had mine set up now for over 6 years and they are still solid.

Once built, fill with good composted manuer or the best soil you can afford to put in. The cheapest way to get the volume is to get it yourself from a farmer in the area, or have a landscape company deliver it by the yard. If you can't afford the good soils right away, use the leaves you rake from the neighbors tree and let them compost over a year or so. You can add your kitchen scraps (no meat, cheese -- just veggie leftovers and cuttings), which should help to break the leaves down quicker. Chopping the leaves first and turning the pile occasionally will help also.

Good luck. . .and please ask questions if you have any!

Tim

kcb
Re: neighbors trees and hard pan
kcb

You state your neighbors tree drops 8-10 bags full of leaves in your yard. There is a good start to your mulch right there, turn them into the ground. The raised bed idea also appeals depending on what you wish to end up with.

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