Heavy equipment damage

Asked January 23, 2018, 11:26 AM EST

A flower bed of currently dormant native plants has suffered damage recently by construction workers - walking through it, placing heavy toolboxes on it, and even driving a loaded dump truck on top of it. Will my plants survive? How can I help the soil and the plants? Plants include wild ginger, Virginia bluebells, bleeding hearts, a variety of sedums, several ferns, sweet woodruff and anenomes. Thanks so much!!

Montgomery County Maryland

1 Response

We can't say for sure how your plants will fare. They will probably be affected. The ones where the truck drove over the plants may need to be dug up, the soil loosened and improved with organic matter, and replanted.
In general, you can lighten the soil with organic matter, shallow cultivation, and light organic mulch (such as mulched leaves.) Here are some helpful tips from our webpage and another: https://extension.umd.edu/hgic/earth-friendly/best-practices-soils and
http://landscapeforlife.org/soil/restore-compacted-soils/

Remember to wait until the soil is "workable" before you dig or cultivate. Working in wet soil worsens compaction. To test that soil is dry enough, make a ball of soil in your hand, then press it. It should crumble easily.

ECN