I've just had a number of very large shrubs and conifers cut down to ground level, leaving the roots and stumps. Unfortunately, I can't afford to have all these removed, but I need to re-plant the area with easier to manage shrubs and plants. I'm on my own and struggle with a bad back. Does anyone have any ideas or tips on how I can go about digging the area and re-planting around the roots and stumps? Is there something I can put in the stumps to prevent them growing again? The ground is very hard clay. TIA
You've left yourself with a bit of a nightmare - roots and stumps with hard clay in-between. The hard clay will be very difficult to plant shrubs into and the soil will have been horribly starved of goodies. If you can't dig yourself then you really will need to get someone in to dig over what they can and to add lots of organic matter to the soil before you plant anything. Alternatively cover the soil there is with a deep layer of organic matter and a layer of weed suppressing membrane and put pots on top for the first year or so.
Sprinkle the soil with claybreaker (gypsum). Then mulch with a really, really thick layer of deep, dark organic matter - I'm talking bulk bags of it! You want at least 4-5 inches. Leave overwinter for the weather to do some of the work for you.
In the spring, I reckon you'll be able to plant into this - the soil underneath should have softened down and will be starting to improve. Make sure that when you put plants in, you add loads and loads of compost round the roots (and grit too, probably).
If you have shady conditions, stumps can be made into an attractive feature of the garden. You can use them to grow moss and ferns - and they look lovely alongside shade planting. I actually sourced some stumps from elsewhere and brought them into my fern garden at home. As they break down, they provide a climate for minibeasts, and they look really nice.
They're not so good in a sunny flower border, though even then I've seen people grow things like clematis up them with success.