Step 2 – Site, Soil and Aspect
Having decided the area you want to work on and what general style you might like it is time to look at the practical considerations of the area. Have your pen and paper handy.
Plants grow best and are easiest to look after when they are in conditions that suit them.
‘Right Plant – Right Place’ is a practical maxim that simply tells us to match our garden conditions with plants that will do well in those conditions. The better we do this, the better the end result, – it’s that simple.
But this does mean we need to know something about the basic conditions our garden or border has to offer. It’s not rocket science, you just need to be aware of the following factors;
Is the area in sun or shade ?
Full sun – sun from early morning to late afternoon
Part Sun / Part Shade – sun for half a day or less
Shade from structures – shade cast by fences, building etc but not overhanging the plants
Shade from trees – shade cast by large trees or shrubs which not only stop the sun but whose roots are likely to compete for food and water with the new plants.
Soil varies enormously, the following is intended as a broad guide only
Is the soil ?
Sandy – soil runs through your fingers almost like a beach
Loam – more solid than sand but not clay
Stony – large proportion of stones or other rock
Clay – heavy and unwilling to break up, like plasticine in worse cases
Is the soil usually ?
Dry – frequently with no apparent moisture, plants may wilt easily in dry weather.
Average – not very dry but not waterlogged or wet except for short period after rain
Moist – tends to retain moisture, seldom needs watering, not waterlogged except for short period after rain.
Wet – almost constantly damp, water frequently on surface and prone to waterlogging
Is the area ?
Level – no appreciable gradient
Slightly sloping – not level but gently sloping, easy to walk on.
Severe slope – difficult or impossible to walk on, objects roll off.
What are the dimensions of the area ?
A basic idea of the size of the area is necessary to decide how many plants you will need. It may pay to make a simple sketch with measurements that will help you calculate area.
When you have the basic information covered go to Step 3.