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Gardening in That Odd Corner

by Dawn West, All About Lawns Columnist

Almost every garden's got an odd spot. In my mother's garden, it was on the northeast corner of the house - a spot without much light and worse than that, over-saturation from the rain gutter. For years she couldn't get anything to grow there. Her daffodils died. So did her begonias. The only thing that thrived: slugs. But finally, her gardening endurance paid off. She tinkered with the rain gutter, she replaced some of the soil, and now she's got a lovely flowering shrub in the spot. Want to transform your garden's odd spot? Here are a few tips to help you turn that corner into the highlight of your garden.

So you've got a spot in your garden that won't grow. Doesn't everyone? Here's how to tackle that problem area.

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Do a Site Assessment

The first step to gardening your trouble spot back to health is to figure out what's really wrong with it. Is it dark? Does it have poor drainage? Is it the dog's favorite digging area? Is the soil poor? Is it a tragic combination of all of the above? Once you know what's really wrong with your garden's odd spot, you're on your way to solving the problem.

Make Amends

Knowing the problem is only the first step. Then you've got to face it. Chances are you've tried a few tricks to get your garden going in the odd corner already - new plants, new watering regimens, etc. But if the problem is more fundamental than that, say poor soil or poor drainage, go to the root of the problem. Bring in new soil. Dig a drainage trench. Pull out the bush that blocks all the light. Be tough on your garden's odd corner. It's the only way.

Consider Your Alternatives

Practicing tough love in the garden may lead to an unpleasant conclusion: your garden's odd spot is destined to remain an odd spot. If you've assessed the problem, gotten to the deep root of it (or realized you can't get to the root of it without major sacrifices, say ripping out a tree you love), and despite your best gardening efforts still found yourself facing a wasteland, it's time to consider your alternatives. How would a nice big rock look in that corner? Maybe a bench? You're bound to feel better about throwing in the towel if you're lounging in the shade.

Take the right steps, and your garden's odd spot can become its crowning glory. And if not, at least you'll know you gave it your all.

About the Author
Dawn West B.A. holds a B.A. in English from Harvard University and teaches writing at Oregon State University.

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