Tips on Garden Planning

Tips on Garden Planning
by George Smith

The crime I once committed through youthful ignorance cured me for all time of an impetuous approach to garden landscape. Once I had decided on gardening as a career, my father suggested that I should be responsible for the -garden, over an acre in extent, which lay in the shelter of a fold in the Yorkshire Dales just below the moors.

The demands on the limited amount of land available for housing developments continue to increase and inevitably gardens will become smaller, at least those the majority of amateur gardeners can afford. To achieve a balanced design which, with the passage of time, will blend into a composite whole requires a sympathetic understanding of both soil and plants. Once this knowledge has been attained it will give immense satisfaction.

There are many pitfalls to trap the unwary but these can be avoided by exercising a little care. The whole future of the garden should be one of expanding interest which can only be achieved by careful planning right from the beginning. A broad overall plan is essential so try to rough out on paper the ideas which in due course will become a practical reality. Spend several evenings sketching in different designs, planning the plantings, even drawing in the shapes of the plants needed to give the best contrast of shape or foliage.

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Study the garden from the main windows of the house, then take a back siting from the garden, until gradually the two become one single unit; the garden another room to be decorated, then furnished. By detailed study every aspect of soil, exposure, even sunlight and shade become fixed in the mind so that each becomes an asset not a liability.

A plant only achieves its full potential when planted under the conditions which suit it best and this all-important factor must be taken into consideration when choosing and buying plants for the garden. A comprehensive list of the shrubs and small trees which have adapted themselves to suit every set of conditions which are likely to be encountered by the garden.

Some check must be made to ascertain if the soil is acid or alkaline as the results of this simple test will have a profound influence on the type of plants chosen. The local Horticultural Officer will have a complete test done or a soil- testing kit can be bought fairly cheaply from any sundriesman. It is quite simple and often very interesting to use one of these alkaline reaction of the soil is expressed as the pH value – pH7 is neutral being neither acid nor alkaline while figures below 7 show increasing degrees of acidity and above 7 increasing degrees of alkalinity. Most plants, will grow in soils within a range between pH6- and 7. An exact reading is not necessary, however, just a guide as to whether the soil contains lime or not. Our gardening would be so much easier if we contented ourselves with growing only those plants which were adat)ted to our own particular soil and climate.

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