Which means that if we want to get anything other than English Ivy to grow, we have to amend & improve the soil regularly.
Regular deliveries of mulch, from the Alexandria City Government's program, have helped, but not all the greenery we planted this spring has thrived. So what to do? We've had good luck with cover crops. They grow easily, they are pretty, and when you're ready to plant something else, you just chop up your cover crop with a shovel, work it into the dirt, and it's ready to go.
Cornell has a Cover Crop guide, which includes a Cover Crop Decision Tool, if you'd like further info, or help figuring out what to plant where & when.
For us, we'll be planting Oats, Peas & Buckwheat from Botanical Interests this weekend. These seeds come in extra large packets, so cover plenty of ground.
Mother Earth News has an article on summer cover crops, and notes that cover crops are useful year-round...bare soil is never a good thing! Mulch it or cover it! (I have to admit we don't have that taken care of yet.)