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COMPOST, MANURE OR MULCH CONFUSTION

I have shurbs and perennials in my border.  Originally about five years ago I created a border.
I have clay soil and I put plenty of manure and compost in.  Up to now the soil has been ok, These last year the weather has been strange and the perennials under the a pine tree did not do very well.  In the spring, I am thinking of putting some compost and mulch around the plants to contain the moisture.
Do I put the compost then the mulch on top, and how often does the soil need manure.  Which compost manure or mulch would you recommend.  I live on the North west coast.  
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  • didywdidyw East SuffolkPosts: 2,053
    Hi @macfall.  It has been a very strange year - a late spring, prolonged periods without rain...  But I think we need more information - which perennials do you have under your pine tree and what is the aspect? (eg, are they in sun or in the shade of the pine - how big is the pine and what species, is your soil acidic or alkaline?). A pic would help. 
    It sounds like you prepped your soil well with compost and manure so a mulch of organic matter - well rotted horse manure, composted material from your compost bin, leafmould or similar laid thickly on top would help keep the soil in good heart.
  • BobTheGardenerBobTheGardener Leicestershire, UKPosts: 11,337
    I agree with @raisingirl and would have said exactly the same. :)
    A trowel in the hand is worth a thousand lost under a bush.
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,089
    To the last two posts, am I right in thinking that leaves falling from trees and other shrubs have two purposes in nature, i.e. to return some of the nutrition held in them to the surrounding soil for re-absorption, and to keep the root stock warm - or is the latter a romantic Granny tale?
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 47,122
    I've never heard of the latter @nick615. Mots roots wouldn't like being warm.
    I'd also agree with everything @raisingirl said. 
    Under a pine tree can be tricky for growing anything, unless there's enough moisture, enough soil, and the planting can cope with the needle drop all year round.

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • raisingirlraisingirl East Devon, on the Edge of Exmoor.Posts: 5,882
    @nick615 leaf fall is a natural autumn mulch. Many people seem to spend a lot of time and money raking up leaves and disposing of them and then buying mulch, when they could just leave the leaves and save themselves a lot of bother and expense. (Collecting fallen leaves in order to compost them is a different thing and definitely worth doing if you have the time and space).
    The roots of a reasonably mature tree will be more than a metre below the surface and at that depth, the temperature actually doesn't change much seasonally apart from in the most exceptional weather years so no, I don't think the leaves keep the tree itself warm in winter. If you leave the leaves on the ground they will, as a mulch, protect smaller plants from the frost to some extent and more importantly, they will provide cover and food for soil organisms which, in turn, does help the tree by helping its local eco-system
    “Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first” 
  • nick615nick615 SW IrelandPosts: 1,089
    Thanks for clearing that one up, raisingirl.  I'd always wondered.
  • Jac19Jac19 Worthing, South Coast of EnglandPosts: 496
    That is because the tree branches shade both the sun and the water from getting to the perennials planted under it.  And also the strong tree roots dominating the soil and starving the smaller plant roots under it to some extent.  I have the same problem under my trees.

    So, retention of whatever water they get under there will help.  Compost can be dug into the soil.  The perennials will want good drainage in clay type soil.  Hence, it is a good idea to add in some horticultural sand/grit with it.  John Innes No. 3 compost comes with quite a bit of h. sand/grit and loam which help drainage.  When there is drainage and water gets down below, carrying plant nutrition with it, the plants can send roots deep under for water and nutrition.

    Mulch in the farmyard manure at the top.  Once every couple of months will do.  This is the one I buy.

    https://www.wickes.co.uk/Gro-Sure-Farmyard-Manure---50L/p/132290
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 20,514
    Whoever buys compost with JI to dig into the ground! 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • floraliesfloralies Haute-Garonne SW FrancePosts: 1,956
    I rather thought we had sorted that one out a while ago @Lyn, obviously not!!
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