soil issues, maybe

soil issues, maybe

Hi, all. This is a most interesting and thought-provoking community. Here's my questions: 1. I love just barely northeast of Columbus, Georgia. Our soil is almost solid clay, very hard when dry and mucky when wet. Last year (our first year here: oh, brother) we planted some hollies and some azaleas out in back where it's not improved, quite shady, and has several pines mixed with just a few deciduous trees. The azaleas mostly look/are dead. Of the hollies, 6 look really good, and 2 quite literally as though one-half of each plant died. What to do? We particularly like azaleas, but don't want to throw good money after bad. Would soil amendment be the answer---some peat and Black Kow sorts of things? Are the pine trees not helping here? We've had to cut down about 5, which were huge, but old and dying, leaning toward the house or the neighbor's property. 2. Keeping in mind that this is a very shady area, what could I use for a sort of natural screening plant along the (hideous) wire fence my rearward neighbor has? If it's relevant, you might want to know that we are continously finding things like small motor parts, old bike tires, just junk that was apparently dumped all along in this one-street development before the developer got her. Thanks very much for any help you can give me. I was a reasonable successful gardener in southwest FL, but this is frustrating.
Ant invasion in winter??

Ant invasion in winter??

sugar snap peas!

sugar snap peas!

My friend gave me a tree…

My friend gave me a tree…

Happy April Fools Day from This Old House

Happy April Fools Day from This Old House

garden

garden

bird nest fern

bird nest fern