Hello from the Bosom of Appalachia (West Virginia)

Submitted by AaronYoho on

I have just joined NARGS, at the suggestion of my friend Peter George.  


Short bio:  I am born and raised in West Virginia.  I love fly fishing, and catfishing (it is indeed a verb in West Virginia), small game hunting, boating.  I also collect mushroom specimens and play disc golf (they go hand-in-hand, actually).  I have an economics degree and JD from WVU.  

I love WVU football as much as Peter George loves KU basketball.  


I have a small piece of property in North-Central West Virginia (Morgantown, near Pittsburgh, PA) that has a ton of rocks and is very beautiful.  Unfortunately for the rocks (and my bank account), I'm building a house on the property, so some of the rocks are getting molested/moved.  


I'm hoping that I can get some ideas on restoring the beauty of the land post-construction, and maybe even making it better!


Some pictures of the property (the un-changed portions):


side portion of the property:



This is my front yard:

This is my front yard


Here's what will need restored:


Look forward to your help!



Aaron Yoho





Submitted by Mark McD on Wed, 09/11/2013 - 07:24

Aaron, welcome to the NARGS Forum.  I'm truly envious of your opportunity to start a fresh garden, with such magnificent rocks on the property.  It's probably beneficial that the house building process will require moving and stockpiling rocks, as existing tree roots will be a significant challenge. If you can tell us what your plant and gardening interests are, we can help by making specific suggestions. A first impression is to capitalize on a portion of the existing natural wooded rockery area, consider some tree thinning or "limbing up" for a higher shade canopy, dig out pockets around the rocks and plant woodland beauties such as Trillium, choice ferns, woodland Iris, Epimedium, and myriad other woodland type plants.  Depending on how much area is cleared of trees you'll have room for sun-loving plants as well. Please keep us posted of your garden developments.

Thanks, Mark!


My goal is to use/showcase plants from WV in the garden, particularly mosses.  Many people around here use moss phlox, which is nice, but I want something more esoteric.

And you're right that I will have an opportunity for full shade and full sun gardening here.  I hadn't thought of that!


And yes, I will definitely have tons and tons of rocks to work with when it's all said and done!


Submitted by RickR on Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:11

We all tend to be esoteric about at least some form of gardening here.

You will fit right in, Aaron!


How deep is the bedrock?  Will you have a basement?


The rocks are big but not deep; they're mostly floating on the surface.  And it's quartzite, so [hopefully] not a problem to move them.

We will have a basement.



The rocks look brown underground and gray/green on top because of the moss and lichens. 



Welcome! I'm jealous too of all the rocks- though I know they must be challenging to work around.

Something you might look into, for areas where you want to grow forest species, or even meadow plants without having to fully excavate rocks and replace soil- something called hugelkultur- you may have heard of or not- a technique used mainly in growing food crops, involving burying wood or other organic materials to create rich well aerated soil with a strong natural microbial flora. I mention it because I assume you will also have lots of woody 'waste' and this is a great way to take advantage of it, rather than consider it a problem. (if you had excess woody material, other hugelkulturists in your area -and they are everywhere-would be thrilled to have it!)

I mentioned it's mostly been used for growing food crops, but I've been experimenting with  using it for ornamental (and food, and mixed ornamental and food) beds as well, especially, obviously, for woodland gardens. Googling the term will give you lots of sites..

Thanks for the idea. I'll look into this.


I haven't worked on the rocks yet; this land hasn't been touched since it was timbered 80 years ago.  The biggest challenge right now is clearing and figuring out where to put the giant rocks that still makes them presentable/accessible.  Right now, we're pushing them around the property to keep them out of the way. . . .

In my opinion you can (almost) never get too much rock! I am the only one in my neighborhood who actually has brought tons of rock into the garden and not out of it!

Seems I have practiced hugelkultur all my life without knowing it was name for it!

Aaron, here is a moss for you:

Nice rocks. Nice property. Keep checking out the Forum for ideas on plants and garden design. Like most of us, I'd love to have started with an empty woodland and a lot of beautiful rocks.

I know, it's like I'm cheating . . . .


Hopefully I can restore all of it to it's original condition, and add some plants to make it better!