We jokingly call this area the Ring (mulched area) and the Field(grassy area), and it’s the hottest, driest, most nutrient-depleted part of our land because I’ve not spent any time on it yet. It basically gets water when things start looking too wimpy. Adding mulch to the Ring has made a huge difference this year in how often I have to water, and in the health of the trees. This catalpa tree on the NE corner was planted only two(!) summers ago as a little two foot tall stick with no leaves. I’m thinking it’s pretty darn happy here. I can’t believe how large it has grown!
The longterm plan is to plant drought tolerant native plants around the ring first, especially on the South side. Then once the soil has more organic matter and has more shade from the drought tolerant plants, I’ll start planting dwarfed size trees around the South side of the field ring. The added shade should cool off the soil and help keep it moist for longer while not shading the Field much if at all.
On the North side of the ring I’m planning for larger trees that will shade the hot rocks of the driveway and shade our parking spaces. Year-round interest and a cooler summer microclimate are the main goals for the ring at this moment.