Growing in Tough Spots and Situations [audio]

Emma and Nate problem solve on gardening and landscaping in tough spots and situations, from dry shade to compacted slopes.

Picture of sweet fern from wikicommons

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All gardeners and home owners face challenging conditions and tough situations that require careful plant selection and a thoughtful approach to bring their landscaping vision to life. In this episode of Granite State Gardening, UNH Extension’s Emma Erler and Nate Bernitz share proven tips and solutions for growing in many of those locations, including dry spots, wet spots, slopes, shade, compaction, foundations, driveways and even contaminated soils. Hopefully you don’t have all of these issues, but undoubtedly your property has some.

·         Featured Plant: Sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina)

Resources:

 ·         What perennial groundcover can I plant on a sunny slope that is difficult to mow?

·         What can weeds tell me about my garden soil?

 Attributions: 

Cover Art: 

Sweet Fern  - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Comptonia-peregrina-foliage.jpg

Sten Porse, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

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Transcript by Otter.ai

Nate Bernitz  0:00  
Welcome to the Granite State Gardening podcast, a production of the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension. Today's show will focus on the kinds of tough spots and situations we all face, bridging the gap between the theoretical and the reality of gardening and landscaping. We'll touch on dry spots, wet spots, slopes, shade compaction, foundations, driveways, and even contaminated soils. This show is for all the homeowners, gardeners and landscapers out there determined to bring out the full potential of whatever conditions and space you have to work with. Let's get into it.

Greetings Granite State gardeners. My name is Nate Burnitz, Public Engagement Manager for UNH Extension, joined as always by Emma Erler, horticulturist and UNH Extension Field Specialist

Emma Erler  0:59  
Howdy, everyone.

Nate Bernitz  1:00  
So Emma, today we're talking about gardening and landscaping in tough spots and tough situations. And we can go a million places with this. We can talk about gardening situations, whether it's the vegetable garden or flower gardens, but we can also talk about a variety of landscaping situations that property owners are going to deal with and even landscapers are going to deal with. I think we should start by talking about some really classic tough spots. Let's start with wet locations. So when I say wet, I mean areas where water pools and doesn't seem to drain very well. So you're really needing to select plants that can tolerate having wet feet, unless you have tips as well on how to fundamentally change a wet location so that it drains better?

Emma Erler  1:58  
Yeah, great place to start, because those wet locations on a property are often a big challenge, because it's hard to find things that necessarily want to grow there. Maybe cutting down on the amount of space you have to have a garden or recreation areas. Then of course, some people are concerned about mosquitoes in those spots, too. So there's a lot going on. My focus, typically, when you have a spot like that on your property that's low lying, that tends to collect a lot of water, is to try to grow plants that appreciate those conditions. There are definitely shrubs, native wetland shrubs that do really well in that scenario. There's also lots of perennials that can grow in a wetter soil. I think that's your easiest approach, to just plant based on the conditions. What you can also think about doing too, provided this area isn't actually a designated wetland, if this is just a low area in your lawn, or something like that, is that you could possibly do some site work. Have a contractor come in and be regrading the area to change the slope. That's going to be expensive, though, and may or may not entirely solve your issue. A lot of times when you have a wet area, you have a fundamentally different type of soil in that spot too. So I think that just planting things that are adapted to grow in more of a wetland or swampy scenario is really going to be your best bet.

Nate Bernitz  3:31  
Can you give some examples of perennials, trees, shrubs, maybe natives in particular that thrive in that kind of location? Maybe you can differentiate by shade tolerant versus... well, I don't know, are we going to have a lot of really wet locations that are also in full sun? I suppose.

Emma Erler  3:52  
I think often that's the case. A lot of times, well, let me put it this way. A lot of the trees and shrubs and perennials that do really well in wet locations are adapted to full sunspots. Which kind of makes sense when you consider that ponds, edges of ponds, or lakes or wetlands are typically going to have a lot of sun exposure. For some people, though, they may have, let's say, a wet area that's kind of in the woods, or underneath some trees, and that's going to be a little bit more challenging to plant, but not impossible. Some of my favorites for wet areas would definitely be some of the willows. It might be kind of hard to find some of the native willows in cultivation, but any willow is going to do well in a wetter spot. Dogwoods definitely like wetter soils. Now you wouldn't plant a dogwood in standing water, but you could plant it at the edge of that area. Another good one is elderberry, which is good for a number of reasons; really excellent for wildlife. If you're planting black elderberry, you could also be harvesting the fruits and making your own jams or jellies or juices, whatever you like. And of course, winterberry holly is really a landscaping favorite. This is a plant that tolerates a lot of different growing conditions. If you're not familiar with what I'm talking about; if you have driven any road in New Hampshire that goes by a wet, swampy area in the fall and have seen a plant that's covered in red berries, that's winterberry. It's a species of holly that's deciduous, which means it loses its leaves in the fall over the winter. But it has those really beautiful fruits. That's a plant that likes a wetter soil as well. For trees, you have options on this front, too. There are a number of species that definitely grow in swampy or wetter areas. Red maple is a favorite. That does really well in that sort of scenario. Again, not planted directly in the water, but at the edge of the water. And another plant that I don't think gets used enough, that's called Black Tupelo, Nyssa sylvatica, has an incredibly beautiful red, glossy foliage in the fall, and it produces fruit, too, that birds will eat. So another really nice native. And I'll just say a few perennials that I think really need to be planted in wetter areas. One is Blue Flag Iris. This is a native iris with blue flowers that you would find at the edges of ponds, typically, earlier in spring. It's kind of gone by now. Cardinal flower is another one that I absolutely love. It's a full sun plant too. All of these, all of everything I've listed so far is going to prefer full sun. The cardinal flower has really pretty red blooms that bees, butterflies and hummingbirds can't get enough of. One more is turtlehead, which is kind of a neat perennial. It has these flowers that don't fully open up, they honestly look a little bit like a turtle head, which is how it gets its name. But that's a really late bloomer, towards the end of summer.

Nate Bernitz  7:03  
So for these areas that tend to stay wet, especially in spring and fall - we've been going through some drought recently - and some of these wet areas may not be so wet over the summer when we have extended periods of drought. Are you needing to think about providing supplemental irrigation in these areas? Or are more like plant and let them be even during dry periods?

Emma Erler  7:32  
My take is that once these plants are established, it's just plant and let them be. When you first put these in the ground, if you have really dry weather, they are going to need water. But once they're established, they're pretty well adapted to changing levels of moisture. So let's say a red maple, for example, can do pretty well if it's inundated for a short amount of time. So let's even say a couple of months, there's a lot of water around a root system. But that same plant is going to be absolutely fine when that area dries out entirely. In fact, it's going to be happier if that area isn't entirely flooded at all times.

Nate Bernitz  8:09  
Okay, and then how about for wet spots that aren't full sun? Sounds like it's a bit more challenging, maybe less plants to choose from, but any come to mind?

Emma Erler  8:21  
Well, you're not going to be seeing quite as many flowers or fruits if you're going to plant in a shady location. But the dogwoods that I mentioned before will definitely take some shade, and a number of the viburnums will as well, native viburnums. So I'd probably be planting something like arrowwood, that definitely likes a wetter soil. And the winter berry could handle some shade too. You just won't get quite as many of those fruits that are so attractive in late summer and fall.

Nate Bernitz  8:50  
The native viburnums have gone a little bit out of style, as far as I can tell. Can you talk a little bit about the challenges that growers are having with native viburnums and what you may be able to do to make them work?

Emma Erler  9:02  
I think probably the biggest issue with the viburnums is an invasive pest called the viburnum leaf beetle that was introduced from Europe. It can really decimate some of the native viburnums, particularly arrowwood viburnum and cranberry bush viburnum. This insect will skeletonize the leaves - essentially eating all of the green leaf tissue on the plants leaf and leaving it bare, which is not attractive to begin with. It's also not good for the plant if this happens year after year after year. Feeding can be intense enough that if a plant is defoliated every single year, it's going to decline and maybe eventually die. So a lot of gardeners have just stopped planting these because they don't want to have to deal with this pest issue. If you are still really determined to grow viburnum, and you can totally get away with it because in some spots where there isn't high viburnum leaf beetle pressure, you're gonna be looking at possibly treating those shrubs with an insecticide, which is not going to be ideal for a lot of people. If you're totally against using chemicals and you have this pest, removing the eggs is actually going to be the best thing you can do. So what you'll be going out and looking for is twigs that have kind of a swollen area on them. And this is going to actually be where the viburnum leaf beetle adult laid its eggs and then covered them over with bits of bark and excrement. So be scouting for those. You can definitely still grow viburnums. Just know that unfortunately, there's an introduced pest that you have to deal with.

Nate Bernitz  10:49  
I think it's particularly challenging to try to use an insecticide in a consistently wet area because we're we're often concerned about impacts to aquatic organisms. Many of those products have quite a bit of toxicity in those environments. So yeah, really challenging. It's a good reason why a lot of people have strayed away from some of the native viburnums, despite how much value they provide to wildlife in the landscape.

Emma Erler  11:20  
Absolutely, that's such a good point Nate.

Nate Bernitz  11:22  
So, we've talked about wet areas. Let's go to the complete opposite side of the spectrum, to really dry areas. In New Hampshire, we have a lot of dry spots because of how sandy the soil tends to be. It's not always sandy, but a lot of New Hampshire has really sandy and of course, rocky soil. So not as difficult to landscape in really sunny dry spots. Just like in the wet areas, there are a lot of plants that tolerate that. But what about some of our dry and shady locations?

Emma Erler  12:01  
I think that's probably one of the hardest places to plant in the landscape, from my experience anyways, as a gardener. There's definitely a limited plant palette, if you will, of plants that will tolerate dry shade. It's just a tough way to live. A lot of the most popular woodlanders, so a lot of the the native plants or native wildflowers that people enjoy putting into more of a shady garden, are going to want a really nice rich soil that's high in organic matter that has consistent moisture. In most spots in New Hampshire, because you don't see super lush undergrowth in most of the forests in New Hampshire, you're going to be either having to amend that soil (bring in a bunch of organic matter) or you're going to have a more limited plant palette. So, less choices of things that you can plant that are actually going to do well in that dry shade. One of my favorites, which I think is starting to get used more in landscaping is called Pennsylvania sedge. So a sedge is similar to a grass except it's an entirely different group, but has that grassy look. This is a species that stays pretty small and short, typically doesn't grow more than a foot tall, and has a nice yellow-green color. You find this growing in dry slopes, typically, or dry areas in the woods in New Hampshire, often underneath deciduous trees. So I think that that's definitely worth consideration. There are  definitely some others that do well too. Partridgeberry is a nice one. And it's a plant.  If you are a hiker or spend your time in the woods, you've probably seen this around. It's a creeping ground cover, vining kind of plant that's really nice. If you aren't looking to stay entirely native there's some other plants that do pretty well in dry areas, as well. One of my faves is European wild ginger, which has kind of this kidney-shaped leaf that's really dark glossy green. That's a plant that would absolutely thrive if you put it in a sunny location or sunnier location. But it will do okay even in that dry soil. So I guess with anything you plant in a dry shady spot, you can expect growth to just be much slower and less robust than if you were to grow in the perfect rich loamy soil in in a sunnier spot.

Nate Bernitz  14:49  
I know that there are more plants, particularly a lot of our natives given that we have that naturally sandy rocky soil, that do pretty well in sunny dry spots. Do you want to give a few of your favorites?

Emma Erler  15:07  
Yeah, so those sunny, dry spots are easier to deal with, certainly. You may not be able to grow everything that you like, but there are a lot of plants adapted to that. For those that are interested in Monarch butterflies, I think butterfly weed is a must, Asclepias tuberosa. This is a milkweed that has really lovely orange flowers. Though there are also some varieties that have yellow flowers, which are also attractive. Not only is this plant gonna feed Monarch butterflies, it's gonna it's gonna feed a whole bunch of other pollinators as well. So that's a must. That plant loves the crappiest, sandiest, hot, dry site possible. So it's hard to mess up with that. Another plant that I really really like, for for hot and sunny dry spots is coreopsis, which is more of a plain species. It's not something you're going to find growing in the wild in New Hampshire, at least not the species we grow in gardens. But you have these really nice, sunny-yellow flowers typically, and a plant that likes dry. I always think that some of the native grasses are worthy of consideration as well, some of these warm season bunch grasses for dry sites. You'll find this species on the side of the road where it's pretty much just sand and gravel - little bluestem, a really attractive grass that's used widely in ornamental horticulture, and worthy of a spot in most landscapes. I do think that grasses are often underused in the home landscape.

Nate Bernitz  16:48  
Let's add an additional variable to the equation. Let's throw some slope in there. So now we're thinking, dry, rocky, poor soil. Well, let's still roll with full sun, or mostly full sun, but add in a slope or even a severe slope. So now we're getting into not only do we need plants that tolerate those types of conditions, but also from a practical landscaping perspective, how do we plant and establish those while managing erosion and managing the fact that it's really difficult to water those in? Because we're getting water just flowing down the hill. There's so many challenges with landscaping on those slopes. How do you approach projects like that?

Emma Erler  17:40  
You just hit on so many important points, Nate, of why planting on a slope can be a challenge. Worthwhile though, in that having some plant material there is going to actually do the best possible job of holding that soil in place. It's just a matter of getting things established. That's really the challenge here. If you're dealing with an incredibly steep slope, I don't even know what we're talking about for grade here, but if you just think of a really steep area, I think what can sometimes be helpful is to use some of these geo textiles, which are actually some sort of woven material to help keep soil in place while plants are becoming established. My preference, and a lot of you have probably seen this on the side of the road with maybe some highway construction projects or similar, is to use jute mat or more like a jute net. It's this natural material that you can stake down on a slope, that's going to help keep the soil in place while plants are becoming established. I think this is really critical, especially if you're trying to plant grass or wild flowers on a steep site. You're waiting for seed to germinate. You need something that's going to slow water down so seeds are all going to get washed away and the soil is not going to get washed away. That's something you can order from garden supply catalogs or maybe even pick up but at some garden centers. So that's one thought. If you are planting something larger, say you're gonna you're going to put in some shrubs to hold the soil in place. Then you may not have to take that step because you're putting a plant in instead of trying to keep seeds in place. One of my favorite shrubs for these sunny dry slopes is fragrant sumac, Rhus aromatica. This is not native to New Hampshire but it's native to Eastern North America. A really, really attractive shrub that prefers these thin soils on slopes or just thin rocky soils in general. It will also spread to form a nice ground cover. So if I was planting that shrub, what I would be doing is spacing them as closely as I could based on my budget, so getting as many plants as possible. When I would be putting them in the ground, often what I would try to do is form some sort of well with the soil. Making more of a trough or something, if you will, that's going to help retain some moisture, when I go to water that plant. If I plant it just level with the slope, it's going to be really hard to collect enough water when I water to really drench that plant's root system. So that's definitely my approach there. If, for whatever reason, you're planting a tree on a slope, you would kind of be doing the same thing, where you're going to have to build up the soil on the downward side of that tree a little bit so that you can have it sitting perfectly upright, and having enough soil on the downward slope for the root system. I don't know if you can picture that or not, but that's critical. With the watering, having more of a that well around the plant can be helpful. It's still gonna be tough if you're running a sprinkler to keep some of that soil from washing. So putting down a heavier mulch, I think is also helpful, something that is not going to wash away. That might be a colored bark or wood mulch, or probably my preference would actually be arborist woodchips, because these are heavy. The only way they're going to wash away is if you get a torrential downpour.

Nate Bernitz  21:37  
I was speaking with one gardener the other day who was struggling to even get wood chips to stay on a slope. She doesn't really want to traverse the slope, because it's so steep and, again, erosion issues. She's trying to figure out how do I even get woodchips or mulch or you know, whatever she's using around these plants in the right way? Because as you know, and talk about often, mulching technique really matters. You don't just want to throw mulch down. You want to make sure that it's not pushed up against the trunk and that you are getting that right thickness and all of that. Any tips for dealing with situations where you really don't even have access to getting onto that slope?

Emma Erler  22:23  
I think if we're dealing with a slope that's that severe, using an organic mulch might not be possible or it might not be practical, because you're just not going to be able get that material to stay in place. So in those sorts of situations, when we're talking about an extreme slope, I'm often thinking about actually using stone and larger stone. So like riprap. And you'll you'll see this in housing developments and along the edges of roadways, where there's just larger size stones that are put down to help keep the soil in place, and they're not going to move around. You can absolutely plant with this still. So you just have little pockets that you're planting your shrubs in. You're not going to get quite the same creeping effect of the uniform ground cover because there's not as much bare soil. But it can still be attractive,  depending on how densely you plant to begin with. So that would probably be my approach. If a heavy arborist woodchip isn't staying in place on a slope, I think you might be looking at at doing some larger stones instead.

Nate Bernitz  23:37  
Then there's the site prep issue. So as you know, I'm working on establishing a wildflower meadow on a slope. I'm using tarps to try and kill the existing vegetation, sort of a sparse grass, really. It's a challenge keeping that material in place. So I'll just say what I'm doing is a combination of landscape staples and really heavy materials that can weigh weigh the tarp down. Bags of sand, flat pieces of heavy concrete, things like that. But I have to go out and maintain that and make sure those staples aren't coming out. Really every aspect from site prep to planting to maintenance is a challenge on slopes. Definitely.

Emma Erler  24:32  
Totally. And I think that's sometimes why people end up doing terracing on steep slopes, too, because it's just a little bit easier when you have more or less steps built into the hillside to maintain vegetation that you're growing at more of a level position. Of course that's a lot of work to begin with. That's going to require a lot of site work to do that. I think most people are only going to do that on a small scale. Let's say you have a really steep slope right by the front door of a house, you might do some terracing. Maybe if you were desperate to grow a vegetable garden, and you only had sloped plan, you might work on building some terraces. But otherwise I think it's just going to take a little bit more labor to get things established on that slope. I think one of the things you have to accept too, is that it's going to take a while for it to look good, because that growing environment often tends to be subprime where it is incredibly well drained.There's not as much moisture there for the plants, often a thinner, rockier soil, so things are gonna grow more slowly.

Nate Bernitz  25:43  
And from a landscaping perspective, you don't want to plant something that needs to be mowed if the slope is so severe that you've just realistically can't maneuver a mower on it. But for slopes that aren't so severe, and maybe a larger area, where it's just gonna be impractical to do individual plantings, you might be looking at mowing. I think a lot of landscapers might look at hydroseeding as an establishment technique for those spots, whether it's just a grass or potentially some sort of erosion-specific mix. Can you talk a little bit about how you might approach that?

Emma Erler  26:22  
Hydroseeding is definitely an option. If you're not familiar with what that is, basically, you're putting down grass seed or whatever's in the mix with some sort of carrier, oftentimes, it's paper, and water. So this is actually all getting sprayed out. Essentially, you got your seed and you've got your mulch that's all been put down together on that slope. That can definitely be helpful. It can still wash out if you have a torrential rain, like we've been having recently with a lot of thunderstorms. That's still a concern, and is always a concern if you're planting on a slope. I think that's sometimes where that jute mesh that I was mentioning before, that's sometimes where that comes in handy. So that you are hopefully keeping things from washing a bit more. It is definitely a challenge to try to have a lawn on a really steep area, like you noted, Nate. You're probably not going to be able to mow that spot. You might be able to go after it with a with a weed whacker, string trimmer, whatever you want to call it. But that's obviously very labor intensive, too. I think that the wildflower meadow is an awesome idea as long as you can get in there regularly to cut down anything woody that's trying to grow in that spot. And then like I mentioned before, some of the shrubs that do well on those sites, I think are good choices. That does require planting a fair amount, but long term, there's not going to be very much maintenance.

Nate Bernitz  28:07  
Let's talk about another challenging spot, which is right along the house. There are different ways you can set up a gutter system. Or maybe you don't have a gutter system. We particularly hear from people dealing with challenges who don't have that gutter system where water is just flowing off the house directly on to the plants they have next to the house. So the plants are dealing with bizarre, unnatural sun exposure, probably poor soil right along the house, and constant water coming from overhead, staying on those leaves, and causing disease issues. We definitely see that. From a landscaping perspective, how do you approach that? And does your approach depend on what side of the house it is?

Emma Erler  29:05  
I think often times people will plant things directly up to the foundation and that's absolutely where you run into that issue with water pouring straight off the roof for gutters. Preferable in this situation is to have some sort of buffer area between the house and where your your garden beds start. What that typically looks like is is gravel, pea stone, maybe some larger river stone underneath so that where the water is pouring off the house, it's not pouring directly onto a plant. Especially in a heavy rain, it could be high velocity. You want that water dropping onto the stone below and then your plants directly beyond that. Where there can often be an issue is when we have these really heavy storm events and water is just pounding down on perennials in particular . One thought is that you're going to not put things with super delicate foliage and stems right next to the roofline. Things that are a bit tougher, perhaps some of the ground covers that hold up pretty well to foot traffic, would be able to handle some water coming down. You also wouldn't want to plant anything, either, close to the house that has real susceptibility to fungal disease issues. One thing I see all the time is powdery mildew on phlox or on beebalm that's planted close to the house where there's not a lot of airflow. Those are plants that I would only put out and away from the home where there's going to be great air movement and plenty of sun. One other thing that's kind of unique about planting right next to the house is that there can be kind of a microclimate near the home, where it's actually warmer up against the house than it is out further in your surrounding lawn. So if you've ever planted bulbs, outside your home, you've probably noticed that the daffodils bloom earliest that are up against your foundation, as opposed to the ones that are a couple hundred yards away. What that means is that sometimes you can get away actually with planting things that aren't quite as cold hardy in your garden, particularly on the southern or eastern exposure of your house. So if you've been dying to try, let's say a big leaf hydrangea, that might be a good spot to try it. On the North side of the house, typically you just want to go with things that are really shade tolerant. That's where something like that European ginger might be nice, hostas, which are always popular, could certainly work and a whole suite of other shade-loving perennials.

Nate Bernitz  31:57  
A lot of times right next to the house, especially if you're trying to hide what's next to it, people want a landscape with evergreens. That could be a box wood or an ink berry. There are all kinds of evergreens. But evergreens also aren't necessarily going to tolerate those conditions really well, especially if you do what so many people seem to do, which is planting too close to the house not anticipating the full mature size of those plants. Then needing to prune them off the house and maybe not following best practices for pruning for the health of the plants. What do you advise for people that do want to try planting evergreens that can provide privacy or or just a visual screen to hide unsightly aspects of the lower part of the house?

Emma Erler  33:03  
Well, you hit the nail on the head early there, Nate, by choosing plants that are going to be the appropriate size at maturity. So what's absolutely critical in my mind is doing a little bit of homework on plant varieties that are going to, at their maturity, so let's say 10, 15 years down the line, are still going to fit this spot. So figure out the height of your windows. That's probably key because you want to have a maximum height figured out for that plant. And now granted, I'm saying this, plants don't always follow these rules. It depends on growing conditions how big they're gonna get. A lot of very old old, dwarf cultivars will get far larger than what they were marketed as when they were planted, but you probably have to wait 100 years for that to happen. I'm usually thinking more about 15, 20 years down the line. With the majority of evergreens, there are tons and tons of different cultivated varieties or cultivars for each species. And size varies dramatically between them as well as growth habit. So some might grow in a columnar habit, meaning they're going to be pretty narrow and just grow straight upwards. Others are going to have more of a spreading habit, so be pretty short and spread outwards. I would recommend going by some local garden centers, looking to see what they have, maybe taking note of what the varieties are. And if you have good service on your phone, you might be able to do some research right then and there to look up a little bit more on that plant and its mature size. Or jot some notes down, go home, do a little bit of research, so that you're choosing something that you're not going to be constantly battling over the course of that plant's life.

Nate Bernitz  35:01  
So two questions there, and probably questions that are coming up for people as they're listening, I hope. So one would be just the fact that you go shopping, and you have your list of all of these specialty cultivars that are going to be the perfect fit for your situation, but you just can't find them. You might go to a garden center where they have one choice for a particular plant, there's not a variety of cultivars, there's just one. Maybe you go to better stocked garden centers and nurseries, and they have a few. But compare that to all the cultivars that allegedly exist when you're doing your online research and it's kind of confounding. So how do you approach that if you do have a particular cultivar in mind, how you might go about sourcing that? The second thing is you're talking about doing research, whether you're at the garden center, or at home. What tips or resources would you suggest as places to actually do that research?

Emma Erler  36:04  
Before you go shopping, I do think it's helpful to potentially do some research. But as you mentioned, it could be hard to actually find that particular variety. A lot of times when I have done this sort of research and come up with, let's say, a list of disease-resistant crab apples and things like this one's going to be great, this is going to be perfect. But that plant may have fallen out of popularity a decade ago, so nobody's really growing it anymore. And you frankly, might not be able to find it anywhere, certainly local. If you are dead-set on a specific cultivar, ordering it might be one possibility. Another option too, is just to talk to the staff at your local garden center. See if there's a possibility of them ordering that plant, either this season or the following season. A lot of garden centers are getting plant shipments throughout the season. Depending on what the supply chain looks like, they might be able to get specifically what you're looking for.

Nate Bernitz  37:07  
That's a great approach, especially if you're not in a rush. If you want to go to the garden center and buy something that day, you're gonna have less options. But if you're willing to play the long game, and plan for later in the season, or even the next year, which makes a lot of sense. Right now we're recording in early July and there's not a whole lot that you really even want to be planting right now. So looking forward to the fall or more realistically, probably early spring of the next year is going to give you that opportunity to work with garden center staff to try and get what you're looking for.

Emma Erler  37:48  
And if you are in a bind, if you have to plant something right now, recognizing that this is not the ideal time, be a little bit flexible. You may not be able to find that specific variety that you researched but there's probably still going to be something quite similar out there. There usually is. I think unless you are an absolute expert, I think a lot of people are going to have a hard time telling one dwarf cultivar from the next.

Nate Bernitz  38:15  
One other thought I have is that landscapers may be able to source more options than you might be able to because they're able to potentially shop at wholesale nurseries. Is that your experience?

Emma Erler  38:29  
Yeah. So if you work with a landscaper, or if you're willing to, they probably are going to be able to get their hands on a greater diversity of plant material.

Nate Bernitz  38:38  
So if you're really insistent on that, you could potentially order something very young online from a specialty nursery or work with your landscaper to get something more local, but from a place that doesn't necessarily sell retail.

Emma Erler  38:53  
Plant sales have been nuts the last two years but I think most years you have some time to go and shop around a little bit, see what's there, do your research, go back and buy it. Maybe not this year, because people are shopping or buying so many plants, but that's typically a possibility. And in terms of resources to look up information on these plants, there's some great reference books. I use the the manual ofwoody landscape plants. I don't think that's the exact title, but by Michael Durr, and I also refer to some online sources as well. The Missouri Botanical Garden has some really awesome resources. The majority of landscape plants are on their website and you can look at the size, what they require for growing requirements - just a whole suite of information. And some of the some of the land grant universities have some great landscaping resources too. UConn does, for example, have profiles of all sorts of different plants. So doing a .edu search on Google, for landscape plants can be helpful too.

Nate Bernitz  40:11  
I would just put in a plug for UNH Extension's website where we don't necessarily have that built-out database of plant profiles, but you've done a fantastic job and continue to do a great job of putting together nice plant lists for specific situations in the forms of articles, whether it's your fact sheet on ground covers, or some of your articles on more specific situations. So I would point people in that direction as well. A topic we haven't talked about yet is dealing with compaction. And there's a few different situations there. One would be if you happen to have heavily clay-based soil. That's not as common in New Hampshire as the really sandy soil, but I think parts of the state do have a lot of clay soil. A situation that comes up for me and compaction is going to be next to driveways or in street plantings, things like that, where pavement asphalt is contributing to that compaction. And of course, just areas that get a lot of foot traffic or vehicle traffic too. They're going to be compact as well. So let's start with the clay issue. What's the solution there? Are there plants that tolerate that? And are there techniques that can alleviate that? One technique we often hear about is adding sand to clay soil which makes sense in your head, right? There's clay soil and there's sandy soil. And if you want your clay soil to be less clay-based, can you just add sand?

Emma Erler  41:56  
That is a good question, Nate. It's helpful to think about soil too, and the different size particles. The reason that that clay we always call so heavy is because clay particles are very, very, very small. Versus sand, which is quite coarse. So there's not as much airspace and clay soil, and the water does not tend to drain as freely. That can cause some issues for a lot of plants. Fortunately, there are plants that are adapted to more of a clay soil, and you can totally go that route. Or if you're really trying to grow a nice diversity of plants, one of the best things you can do actually is to add organic matter to that soil. Adding the sand, though it does seem like it would make sense if you're trying to get that ratio perfect in your in your garden by mixing, clay and sand, is really, really difficult to do. I don't know of anyone who's had success doing that. You would have to probably bring in a vast amount of sand.It would be hard to get those mixed up perfectly to have better drainage. So, on a site, just adding sand to the soil, I don't think that you're going to end up with great results. The approach that I would push for is mixing in a whole bunch of good quality compost into that clay soil. Because that compost is going to create larger pore spaces in that clay for air and water. Air being really critical, especially. It's going to improve drainage of that clay so that plants can be a little bit healthier. Now, whenever we're amending soil with organic matter though, you have to remember that the organic matter is going to break down so if you have a clay-based soil or even if you have a sandy soil and you're adding organic matter to it, you are going to have to continually do that because gradually over time that organic matter will break down and you've lost the benefits of it in that soil

Nate Bernitz  44:06  
Let's go back to the clay soil that maybe it's just not going to be practical for you to add enough organic matter year after year to really change it fundamentally. So how do you approach that? What plants are you going to look at that are going to thrive and heavy, compact clay soil?

Emma Erler  44:29  
Great question. With clay you can grow a a good variety of things, still. I often gravitate towards some of the really tough perennials that seem to do well no matter what. So I've had great luck with irises in clay, certainly with daylilies. And hostas will pretty much take anything too and often seem to do a little bit better in that heavier clay that holds on to a bit more water than the sandy soils that are so common in New Hampshire.

Nate Bernitz  45:04  
Is it hard to find native plants that do really well in clay just because clay isn't as significant a part of this region's soil profile?

Emma Erler  45:15  
Yeah. So if you're trying to grow only New Hampshire native plants, it could be a little bit more challenging, just because there aren't a whole lot of real clayey soils in New Hampshire. You certainly can still find things that do well, though, in that sort of soil,  you would tend to be looking at things that grow a bit further west. One of my favorites that I haven't mentioned yet, so I mentioned the European wild ginger, but there is actually a North American native ginger, Canada ginger, which likes a heavier clay soil. It does quite well in that sort of soil. That's a really lovely ground cover that I think has a place in most shady gardens.

Nate Bernitz  46:05  
Maybe taking a couple steps back, when you're taking a look at soil, I know that you can actually get your soil professionally analyzed. But how do you figure out whether soil is heavily clay or sandy, or I guess what we would call loamy, somewhere in the middle?

Emma Erler  46:25  
What you can do there is to actually test. There are a few different ways you can do a texture analysis, basically, of your soil. One way is to take a soil sample and mix it in a jar or a glass with water, and shake it up and then let it settle out. Basically the different soil particles are going to settle out at different levels. You'll have the sand particles the the really core stuff that settles out first, it's the heaviest. Then you're gonna have silt, and clay. So you can look at it that way and see what the relative percentages are. This is estimation, of course. You could also be doing a texture analysis just by wetting a small amount of soil in your palm, and trying to roll that soil into a ball. If you're able to form it into a ball that is pretty stable, you can even put a little bit of pressure on it with your finger and it doesn't fall apart, that probably means you have a high percentage of clay in your soil. If you're trying to do this with a sandy soil, you might not even be able to form it into a ball to begin with. And if you have a nice loamy soil that has the relatively equal amounts of sand, silt and clay, then that ball that you form is going to crack apart if you try to put a lot of pressure on it.

Nate Bernitz  47:56  
My experience when buying soil is that soil labeled as topsoil often is heavily clay-based, which is interesting in this region where so much of our natural soil is sandy. You're actually taking some of that really cheap topsoil and mixing it in as kind of an amendment, an addition, when you're planting, not necessarily vegetables or plants that need a lot of organic matter, but just plants that would probably appreciate a little bit more water retention. Does that make sense to you?

Emma Erler  48:32  
It can potentially. In some sites, the only reason a person has a lawn, let's say is because they brought in a whole bunch of topsoil. Really any new development, probably, has had a whole bunch of topsoil brought in. So when the site work happens with a lot of construction projects, all of the topsoil that was there, that native soil, gets scraped off in order to dig the foundation and do any earthworks that need to be done around the property. So that gets hauled away in a dump truck. And then typically, some some topsoil is brought back in for the actual planting. So depending on what the site is, like where your home is built, you probably aren't dealing with the the native soil that was there anyways. It really depends. With bringing in topsoil, it varies a lot. You're not going to know exactly where it came from. Because that's exactly what it is. Typically, it's that top layer of soil that was scraped off of a site by a piece of equipment, you're purchasing and putting it back down on your landscape. So if you don't really have much in the way of soil at all, say this is just pure sand, like we're dealing with coarse beach sand or something on a property and there's really no more of a sand-silt, or clay-silt component to it, or organic matter, bringing in topsoil I think is appropriate. If you have, let's say, just a sandy soil or clay soil that's difficult to deal with, you're better off bringing in a bunch of organic matter to amend that soil than to bring in a big truckload of topsoil.

Nate Bernitz  50:21  
Let's revisit that driveway scenario. For me, that brings up a couple challenges: one of course being the compaction, but also the fact that especially if you're planting trees, shrubs that have more complex root systems that go farther out, those roots are going to be in really different situations under the driveway versus going the other direction. And in a driveway scenario you're dealing with potentially getting pummeled by a plow and by snow over the winter. If this is along a street and in a more urban environment, salt, too. So how do you go about choosing plants that are going to be able to tolerate these really extreme and unnatural conditions?

Emma Erler  51:10  
I would absolutely be first off looking at plant lists of perennials, trees and shrubs that tolerate salt. There's a there's a decent list of plants that do just fine in that sort of scenario. You're also going to have to probably be thinking about heat and drought as well. Typically right next to that roadway, or right next to the driveway, you're going to be getting, especially if it's paved, a lot of radiant heat off of that asphalt, which some plants are not going to appreciate. Often evergreens do not appreciate this. Those spots can tend to be kind of compacted too and/or just really, really coarsely drained. So very, very sandy let say on the side of the road. And some of that's going to be increased over time too, if you live along a roadway where sand is used in the wintertime in addition to salt. So that's something to think about. I'm thinking about plants that will tolerate compaction, that will tolerate drought, and ideally are going to be able to tolerate some salt as well. That might sound like "well, what likes that?" Well, there actually is a remarkable number of plants that are okay in that scenario, and it tends to be some of these these really rugged things. For example, if you're looking to plant trees, one of my favorites is the thornless honeylocust. This is a plant that's native to North America, super, super tough, it's in the pea family, and I believe it actually fixes some of its own nitrogen, so it makes its own fertilizer. And it does well in these tough growing conditions near near driveways or in little pocket planters along a sidewalk or something similar. For perennials, I'm thinking of some of these really tough things. The daylily never fails in that tough spot. Siberian Iris, again, does pretty well. I'll bring up the ornamental grasses again, because I think they could stand to be used more. Most of these are really tough, and they're fine with any of that salt or getting accidently backed over by a car.

Nate Bernitz  53:42  
You've brought up some plants over and over again. I know I've been to some nurseries where they'll actually have some sort of label or signifier for plants that are especially tough, ones that just work in less than optimal conditions, which I really appreciate. One plant that seems to always be on that list is the fragrant grow-low sumac that seems to have so many uses. Can you talk a little bit about that and other plants that to you just are great for situations where you're just not really sure what, if anything, can actually thrive?

Emma Erler  54:23  
That sumac that you mentioned, that's that fragrant sumac that I was talking about being awesome on slopes or dry gravelly soils. And it is just that. So we're talking about a plant that's adapted to grow in very, very thin soils, in exposed sites, hillsides, that sort of thing. Fragrant sumac is really - I think it's it's interesting and really beautiful. It definitely has a number of different landscape values. The grow-low variety that you mentioned, Nate, stays a bit closer to the ground, typically doesn't exceed three feet in height. Whereas the straight species will grow up to six feet or more. Most people are going to find that shorter sumac more appropriate. It has a shorter, more spreading habit. It does produce berries that will be eaten by wildlife, so that's great. It also has fabulous fall color. So we're talking like a bright orange or red, shiny, glossy fall color. And during the growing season, you have this three-parted, very attractive, dark, glossy green leaf. It's not gonna have the big showy flowers that people might be looking for. But it's a plant that you're really not going to have to water at all once it's established. And it's gonna do a lot better if you actually give it poor soil. So that one's worth talking about. Another native, that's kind of hard to propagate, but is definitely growing in popularity, is sweet fern. This is a plant that you'll often find growing along roadsides or in abandoned gravel pits, because it likes to grow in these very, very nutrient poor, well drained, full-sun sites. I like this one for slopes as well. I believe this one also fixes its own nitrogen, which is kind of cool, which is in part why it's able to survive in these incredibly low fertility places. So, that one's worthwhile. Plus, it is really nice, fragrant foliage. With some of the perennials that keep popping up again, and again, I know I've mentioned daylilies a couple times. There are people that kind of hate on daylilies just because they're so common. But I think there's a good reason for that. They have really beautiful flowers, not very many pests or disease issues. Of course, they're not native, these come from Asia. And they will tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions. So you can put them in a more consistently moist soil and they'll thrive. They'll also do just fine in a really dry site as well. And heat is typically fine, too. So look around. If you know what a daylily looks like, you're going to find them in the majority of parking lot islands at shopping complexes. The trick for you as a home gardener, if you think that day lilies are boring is to go after some of the more unique cultivars that have different colored flowers or different flower shapes, sizes, what have you.

Nate Bernitz  57:35  
Why don't we talk about those parking lot islands for a second. So if a grocery store, big box store, something came to you and said, "You know what? We're going to give you complete control. You choose exactly what's going on our parking lot islands and you have the budget to do it." How are you approaching that?

Emma Erler  57:56  
Well, first off, I guess I'd be looking at the size of that island, and trying to decide whether of tree could fit in that spot, or whether we're talking shrubs or perennials. If this is a decent-sized island (I don't know if I'm getting to design the whole thing) or if the island's already there, I'm looking at putting in some really drought-tolerant, urban-tolerant trees. That honeylocust that I mentioned is definitely top of the list. I'd probably be thinking maybe Hawthorne as well. The fruit can be a little bit messy, but it's a tree that does okay in that scenario. If this is a really big spot where we've got room for a big mature tree someday then I'm thinking London planetree. That's another real interesting one that's a cross between a couple of different species of sycamore - quite lovely. For shrubs, I'm again thinking things that are heat and drought tolerant. That sumac is going to get planted for sure in at least a few spots. I might also be thinking about possibly something like a chokeberry aronia which will take some dry soil and it's it's native, too, so the local robins might enjoy it. For perennials, those daylilies are probably going to get used. I'm probably going to put in some ornamental grasses, and maybe something like a perovskia, Russian Sage, or catmint, which are fine with with hot and dry.

Nate Bernitz  59:32  
One tough spot a lot of New Hampshire gardeners deal with is places that have been taken over by something undesirable. Maybe it's poison ivy, maybe it's Japanese knotweed, an invasive plant. How do you approach those types of tough spots?

Emma Erler  59:48  
Well, it depends on what the species is, and usually my approach, certainly with something like Japanese knotweed or even poison ivy, is to try to get those under control first before I even think about planting. Poison ivy just because I don't want to deal with the exposure. With Japanese knotweed, I'd need to get rid of it so that anything I plant in that space has some sort of chance. When you're talking about an incredibly aggressive invasive plant species. It's difficult to plant something desirable there and expect to have it out-compete this established invasive plant. With some invasives you might be able to do that with; you might be able to plant some natives in and slowly get rid of the invasives in that area, or just plant non-invasive things. So let's say you have a bunch of autumn olive or something similar, you might be able to interplant with that and gradually work on getting rid of that invasive. But with the poison ivy or knotweed, I would be trying to control it entirely. No more growth, this thing is dead as a doornail, is probably going to be a multi-year process. Certainly for the knotweed and the poison ivy too it's probably going to be a couple of years at least before you fully have it under control. And then when basically that site is just ground zero, then I would start over and be planting what I want in that area.

Nate Bernitz  1:01:17  
One thing that we haven't really talked about is that in these tough spots where conditions aren't optimal, a lot of times there are going to be weeds just thriving. Plants that you did not put there and are by any or most definitions "weeds". When you come into a site, how do you approach the weed control? And what are those weeds potentially telling you about that location?

Emma Erler  1:01:48  
Oftentimes in a site the weeds are going to tell you what the growing conditions are about. A lot of plants have a pretty specific range of conditions that they like to grow in. The soil needs to have a certain amount of drainage, there needs to be certain sun exposure. And some of it's by chance too. There are always random things that just happened to germinate in a spot. But with a lot of weeds, you can find out pretty quickly, if you know the species, whether that soil is very coarse or well drained, or whether it's consistently wet. How much sun or shade there is could tell you a bit about the acidity of the soil. So even if you haven't done a soil test, yet, some weeds are going to tell you that the soil is probably acid, or the soil has very low fertility, or that it's compacted, which is kind of cool. I actually wrote a short blog about this on our website, just to talk about some of these indicator weeds. If you're trying to plant a spot that's totally infested with weeds, you're gonna have to control them in some way. So if you're looking to plant right away, that could mean going in by hand in ripping all the weeds up, planting what you want, and then putting down a heavy layer of mulch. That approach totally works. Just know that you're going to have to weed consistently in that area because they're just going to keep coming up for a while. If you are looking for, I guess a bit more complete weed control, you could take some time to really prepare that site uh and oftentimes, gardeners like to do that with smothering. So putting tarps down over that area, or maybe doing a cardboard or newspaper layer covered with compost or mulch over a spot for, if we're talking about herbaceous weeds, probably at least three months before planting. That can work too. And honestly, if you have time on your hands, it's probably the approach I would take. Because you're not disturbing the soil as much. You're not bringing new weed seeds to the surface as you're ripping up old weeds. It just takes a bit more planning and patience.

Nate Bernitz  1:04:00  
We haven't really talked about vegetable gardening. That brings up its own set of challenges and techniques too. If you're dealing with compact soil or really sandy soil, there are approaches that you might take in a vegetable garden that might not be as practical in just ornamental parts of the landscape. To me, cover crops come to mind in addition to of course, adding organic matter. But if I'm dealing with a really compact site, there are certain cover crops that might really help with that, where their root systems are going to do the work for you, like a tillage radish or something like that. For really sandy spots, you might be able to grow a cover crop that just generates a lot of biomass. So when you do turn that in or till it in or maybe it's winter killed, you're just adding a lot of material that grew while that cover crop was actively growing. That's going to help you out. So that's exciting. Im not sure if you have anything to add on the cover crops or soil improvement aspects of an area you want to do as a vegetable, vegetable garden, that doesn't have the best soil?

Emma Erler  1:05:18  
Well to start with, the only thing I guess I would note, and maybe this is abundantly clear to everybody, but you do have to have bare soil in order to sow your cover crops. So you might be tarping the area to smother vegetation, or maybe you've tilled, but you can't go into just a weedy site and sow cover crops and expect them to take over. If only, that would be so much better. I guess one thing that that kind of different differentiates the vegetable garden, too, is that tilling comes into play. Not something that's going to come into play once you've established the perennial garden, obviously. But with the vegetable garden, it's an option, and something a lot of gardeners do. Mixing in a cover crop, though, is absolutely worthwhile, I think worth the investment.

Nate Bernitz  1:06:11  
My closing question for you, because we're pretty much out of time here in the studio, but what about areas that have a lot of heavy metals? Things like lead or arsenic. Because, of course, we do heavy metal soil testing. Or you may just have a pretty good sense of that if you're gardening next to a house that had lead paint on it, or are gardening somewhere that used to be, a long time ago, some kind of commercial agricultural operation or an industrial site. something like that. There are a lot of situations. In this region, there are some heavy metals that are just naturally abundant too. So it's gonna be a situation for a lot of folks. How do you approach dealing with that issue? I'll throw an added wrinkle in there too, which is sometimes you may be trying to grow where your water source, pre-filtration, has had tricky, heavy metals in it like an arsenic and you need supplemental irrigation. So how do you deal with that too? So many issues.

Emma Erler  1:07:25  
So many issues. Usually these issues are most considerable if you're trying to grow food, trying to grow vegetables. It's not as much of an issue in the perennial garden, unless we're talking about seriously, seriously high levels where you don't want any contact at all on your bare skin while you're gardening. We don't see that really often anyways.

Nate Bernitz  1:07:51  
Right, it's a spectrum. It's not like you either have heavy metals or you don't.

Emma Erler  1:07:55  
Pretty much all soil is going to have heavy metals in it. Everywhere. In healthy soils there's going to be some heavy metals. It's just a matter of whether it's excessive, enough to cause harm. With a veggie garden if it comes back and your heavy metals are through the roof, a lot of people opt for raised beds and they bring in new soil. That is probably your safest bet. If metal levels are moderate, and you want to grow in the ground, then paying really close attention to soil pH and organic matter is key. Those heavy metals are going to be locked up in the soil if the pH is closer to neutral (closer to seven) than more acidic. Organic matter is also going to help bind up a lot of those heavy metals. You're also probably going to be thinking about adjusting what you're growing. So you're going to want to grow crops that aren't going to have a whole lot of direct soil contact or at least the thing you're going to eat doesn't have direct soil contact. Tomatoes, for example, or anything with a fruit is probably going to be okay because the issue isn't so much that the plant is taking up the metals and putting it into that produce, it's that metals are getting on to that produce when it's grown in the soil. So root veggies, skip those; a lot of the greens, I'd skip those as well or put those in your raised bed or containers; and have a ball with your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, tomatillos, beans, all of that stuff.

Nate Bernitz  1:09:33  
What about some of those brassicas? Like say a cauliflower or broccoli?

Emma Erler  1:09:38  
It's kind of a gray area there too with those. I would be a little less concerned with cauliflower or broccoli, because those are held up off of the soil. But it's up to you. You can assess your level of risk with growing in this sort of scenario.

Nate Bernitz  1:10:00  
Just to emphasize a point you already made, it really depends on the concentration of heavy metals in your soil, whether even growing fruiting crops is an option.

Emma Erler  1:10:12  
Right. There is definitely a cut off too where it's like you should not be having direct skin to soil contact in this particular soil.

Nate Bernitz  1:10:24  
At the University of New Hampshire soil testing program, for a basic home grounds and garden soil test, we do something called a lead screening. But if your lead screening comes back high, we recommend going to the next level and doing a more complete analysis, as well as maybe testing for heavy metals too, to really be able to make an informed decision, because I'm not sure if you could speak to how the lead screening works, but if it comes back high, that's not giving us as much information as we might want to be able to make an educated decision.

Emma Erler  1:11:02  
Yes, absolutely. Doing the more involved heavy metals test is typically recommended. Again, it's pretty rare in New Hampshire. But if you don't know, if you're just starting off gardening, and you don't know the history of the site, or you're next to a very old house or something, it's probably worthwhile. Sometimes we see high arsenic levels in soils in New Hampshire. And often that's because there is a an old orchard there wherean arsenic pesticide was used.

Nate Bernitz  1:11:32  
Or you have high levels of arsenic in your water supply which is common in even drilled wells. If you're not running your water through a filter before it's going out for irrigation, that arsenic can build up over time.

Emma Erler  1:11:49  
It can, and that is a concern in in some locations. So getting your water tested as well, especially when you move on to a new property, for your own consumption as well as using it in your garden, is important.

Nate Bernitz  1:12:01  
Yeah, and doing that regularly, because conditions can change. I forget exactly what our state's Department of Environmental Services says, whether it's every two or three years they recommend water testing. Certainly, in addition to that, if you detect any kind of change in taste or odor from the water. Maybe you got your water tested six months ago, but if you detect that change you should get another water test.

Emma Erler  1:12:28  
That's definitely something to consider when your your well might be getting low. Or after we've had a drought like we're in right now. That's often a time to be considering the water and seeing if there's if there's been a change.

Nate Bernitz  1:12:45  
Yeah. Any other tough situations or spots that you'd like to cover before we wrap?

Emma Erler  1:12:51  
Oh, there's all sorts of combinations of course of all these specific scenarios, but I'm always happy to talk people through what some of their options might be for a tough spot in their landscape.

Nate Bernitz  1:13:03  
Exactly. So reach out to us with the specifics of your situation. We'd be happy to to cover your unique set of conditions as a featured question on a future episode. So send us emails to GSG.pod@unh.edu. Okay, now seriously, we've got to wrap up but not before you share this episode's featured plant.

Emma Erler  1:13:36  
This episode's featured plant is sweet fern, Comptonia peregrina, a plant named for its fragrant deeply notched foliage. Though sweet fern is not actually a fern at all. It's a member of the wax myrtle family, alongside shrubs like bayberry. Sweet fern is a native New Hampshire shrub that grows about two to five feet tall and spreads anywhere from four to eight feet. When found in the wild, it usually grows in poor, sandy or gravelly infertile soils, such as long roadsides. Interestingly though, it fixes its own nitrogen, much like many other members of the pea family. Sweet fern is a shrub that I often recommend planting in difficult areas in full sun with droughty poor soil. I think it makes an excellent addition to native plant gardens or naturalized areas where it can be left alone to spread and colonize. It's also excellent for stabilizing slopes and embankments. The only downside to sweet fern is that it can be difficult to transplant, and sometimes takes a while to become established. However, if you plant it in the right location, you won't be disappointed.

Nate Bernitz  1:14:49  
If you've been listening and have made it this far, it sounds like you're probably really enjoying the podcast, so consider leaving us a glowing five star review on iTunes or wherever you're listening if they let you leave a review. We really appreciate everyone tuning in and helping spread the word about this podcast for gardeners in New Hampshire and northern New England. Thanks for tuning into Granite State Gardening. Until next time, keep on growing in all those tough spots and situations Granite State gardeners, we'll talk again soon.

Granite State Gardening is a production of University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension, an equal opportunity educator and employer. Views expressed on this podcast are not necessarily those of the university's its trustees, or its volunteers. Inclusion or exclusion of commercial products on this podcast does not imply endorsement. The University of New Hampshire, US Department of Agriculture and New Hampshire counties cooperate to provide extension programming in the Granite State. Learn more at extension.unh.edu.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai. Transcript edited by Rebecca Dube.

 

 

Author(s)

Nate Bernitz
Public Engagement Program Manager
Extension Program Mgr
Phone: 603-351-3831
Office: Cooperative Extension, Taylor Hall, Durham, NH 03824