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Location: Gulf Coast
Posted: Sep/11/2008 3:37 AM PST
I live in a region that has an abundance of oyster shells, and pine straw. We've recently re-designed the garden of our new home for a more tropical look; palms, bird-of-paradise, agapanthus, heliconias, etc. In the previous home, pine straw was obviously the mulch of choice because of the many azaleas on the property. That property was much larger, and the dogs had their own area.
The new yard is smaller, and the dogs will have roam of the entire garden. Just using pine straw alone turned out not to be an option, because the dogs would move it aside, and then dig into the cool earth below. Also, the "aesthetics" of palms with a pine straw mulch just didn't seem to go together. Rocks and pebbles are not desirable to us. We've experimented using oyster shells as a mulch, and the rough texture seems to inhibit the dog's from digging.
I have read that ground up oyster shells, will make the soil more alkaline, given that they are mostly calcium. We have used the entire shell, not ground up ones. Does anyone know if these shells will have a significant effect on the soil ph? Has anyone ever tried using pine straw as a base, and then oyster shells as a top dressing? It seems to me the acidic and alkaline qualities of each would be counter-balanced.... I have not been able to find whether or not palms, and the other tropicals, prefer an acidic, alkaline, or neutral ph. BTW, our soil is predominately a sand base, but we have amended it with some clay and hummus. We like the idea of the pine straw decaying, and gradually improving the soil. Thanks for your input!
Location: Chesapeake VA
Posted: Sep/11/2008 4:50 PM PST
First of all Welcome to GG!
Second- I hope you are not in the path of Ike!
I'm not sure what the effect of whole oyster shells would have.
My first thought on reading the title of your post was Yes, it will because it is lime- will tend to make it more alkaline...
I would think it you put about 2-3 inches of pine straw down, then top it with enough oyster shells to hide it you will be fine. The alkalinity of the shells will be leached into the soil, but the pine straw MAY help to neutralize it.
I would try it. Get a soil test done prior to putting everything in place. Then get the soil tested every spring and fall after to keep tabs on what the pH is doing.
Hope that helped a tiny bit