Marys345
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Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

Hey everyone, I want to start by saying that I am a new to gardening. I have recently moved from Kansas to northwest Arkansas (Fayetteville) and have a large amount of outdoor space that I would like to utilize. When I first moved in I found several spots in my yard that were totally overrun with fleas. Since I have two dogs I would like to minimize this infestation through the use of plants. I have concluded that lavender, lemongrass, marigolds, and mint will best suit this desire. Ideally I would like to purchase some established plants from a nursery or store and plant then straight into the ground but the earth in my yard is very rocky. There are rocks both above and below the surface and the dirt is hard. Will these conditions pose a problem for the plants I want to grow?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

You will have to do some work with fork/shovel/hoe breaking up that dirt and pulling at least the biggest rocks out. You by no means need to get all of them out, but you need to change the ratio of dirt to rocks a bit, so your plants have enough soil and you have to loosen everything up so air and water and your plant roots can travel through it.

Your dirt being hard suggest it is clay-like? The lavender likes a looser, sandier soil. You are probably going to need to amend your soil somewhat, by adding some compost or good enriched topsoil. The mint likes less sun and more water than the lavender does. But it is good to plant mint in a large pot anyway, to keep it from taking over your yard once established. If you do that, you can give it its own conditions.

Getting started in conditions like this is going to be hard, heavy work. Do a little patch at a time! Your other alternative is to ignore your bad soil, build raised beds on top of it and fill them with good soil. If your beds are a foot deep, it won't matter as much what the soil is like underneath them. All you would need to do is poke holes in the ground first with a fork for drainage channels, before you fill the beds.
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imafan26
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

I suggest you add fennel to the list. It is tasty and it repels fleas. Before you do any work in the yard, though I would get rid of the fleas first.

I don't think mint and lavender go together. One like alkaline and almost dry the other lsuikes rich and moist.

In rocky spots I would use things that don't mind growing on rocks. You will have to do some amending and at least some fertilizer and regular watering. If you cannot remove the rocks or they are large, you can amend just small sections of the soil if you choose the right plants.
alyssum, stonecrop, cactus and succulents, rock cress, lavender,sedum, hens and chicks, aloe, bearberry, false heather, and candytuft are plants that can grow in rocky soil as long as you give them a decent start and water until they get established. They have fine roots that can wiggle under the rocks. Water deeply, to wet the ground thoroughly to soften the soil and encourage deep roots.

If you want a garden for moisture loving plants and edibles, it would be better to do raised gardens as Rainbow suggested. It takes time and work and there is more to it than just planting the seeds.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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applestar
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

My personal view is that ultimately, what would be best is to encourage flea predators. So rather than spraying down poison, I would probably go with the strain of nematodes that attack fleas in their egg and larval stage in the soil. Nematodes need to be watered in during season with proper temperature range for the strain.

It might help to create a smaller, virtually flea-free area for your dogs to play in for the time being -- for this I might use diatomaceous earth even though it will kill indiscriminately. Perhaps just the area immediately outside of the door. Temporarily fence specific areas.

Your lavender, lemongrass, and marigold will grow in just a pocket of better soil you make for them, but you will need to individuality protect them from your dogs (and anything else) with a circle of fencing or something. I think Rosemary and Sage might also be good additions, maybe eucalyptus, too?

Mint as mentioned prefer more moist and somewhat shadier location, and I think the thing to do is to place them where water will collect -- lower at the bottom of any grade or slope, or where the rainwater from the roof gutter downspout drains and spreads. I can't remember if pennyroyal which is related to mint is toxic to dogs, but I remember it as being a flea repellant. Have you considered lemonbalm, too?

Don't forget a soapy tub by the door in which to wash your footwear and maybe your doggy paws, too.
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Marys345
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

Thank you for the responses everybody. :D We have plenty of space so all of these plants can go in separate places which should help with their different soil preferences, right?

I will need to look into diatomaceous earth and nematodes as I have never heard of either one.

It appears my first step, at least for now, is to remove as many rocks as I can while loosening up the hard earth.

We rent our property and included with the land are two horses. Could I use their manure as fertilizer?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

You can mix the horse manure and bedding straw in with other stuff in a compost pile and let it compost and break down. You can use aged composted manure to add nutrients to your soil. You can add manure to a garden bed in the fall and let it break down all winter and plant in spring. You can't just put fresh manure in a garden bed with plants.

And the well aged composted manure adds nutrients and organic matter to the soil, but it is not the same as fertilizer. The nutrients in the manure aren't available until it breaks down more and releases them. So it is a slow acting and not very concentrated fertilizer. Starting out with bad soil, even though you added manure, you would still need to add some more quick acting source of nutrients.
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Marys345
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

Rainbowgardener - thank you, I figured I couldn't just dump in the fresh stuff but was unsure of the process to make it useable. Would it be wise to use a bin for the manure and straw and to throw in things such as egg shells, coffee grounds, and fruit peels?

imafan26
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

You can use a bin or wire cage but you should layer greens and browns to balance it. So the more green stuff (high water content" green leaves, vegetable waste from the kitchen, fresh grass clippings) mixed with an equal volume of dry stuff (hay, dry leaves, bark chips, newspaper)
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rainbowgardener
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Re: Advice for growing lavender (and others) in rocky yard.

imafan is absolutely right. The manure and all of the kitchen scraps (and pulled weeds and grass clippings and much of the yard waste) are all "greens" -- soft, wet, Nitrogen rich. They need to be mixed/ layered with at least as much "browns" -- hard, dry, Carbon rich, such as the straw, fall leaves, corn stalks, shredded paper, etc.

Please read composting 101 and composting basics in the composting forum here http://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=35

You can end up with a big, stinky mess if you don't do it right!
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

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