Category Archives: Garden

  • 0

Improving the Topsoil in Your Garden

Category : Garden


When you start gardening a new patch of soil, whether it be a new allotment or a new garden, it’s always interesting. What will grow well or not? Will the soil be easy to work? Well, you can give yourself a head start by doing a bit of soil analysis and improvement before you plant.

Soil structure

First of all, you need to know what sort of soil you’ve got: clay, sandy, loam or chalky, and also how deep the topsoil goes.

Clay soil has very small particles, so tends to get waterlogged, and is often known as heavy soil. However, it retains nutrients, so is usually very fertile. When you roll it in your fingers, it will stick to you, and make a sausage shape. Sandy soil has very large particles, so tends to dry out and does not retain nutrients, but is very light to work. When you roll it between your fingers, you can feel the individual grains.

The ideal soil, loam, is a mixture of clay, sand and silt, giving a soil that is fertile, but easy to work. Chalky soils also contain calcium carbonate. If your soil fizzes when you drop a bit into a jar of vinegar, it contains free calcium carbonate.

You can work out how deep each layer of soil is by digging a hole. As you dig, see where the soil characteristics change. The topsoil northshore, or top layer of soil, is where the plants are going to grow, so you need to know how deep it is, and what type of soil. Below that, you may find a stony or rocky layer.

Soil pH

The pH of the soil, or its acidity, will determine what plants you can grow. You can buy DIY soil testing kits at most garden centres, which will tell you whether your soil is generally acid, alkaline or neutral. However, for new gardens, or an allotment, it may be worth investing in a professional laboratory soil analysis, as this will not only tell soil type and pH, but also tell you how much of various key nutrients are present in your soil.

Improving your soil

Once you know what type and pH of soil you have, you can start to improve it.

In general, the best way to improve soil structure, whether starting from clay or sand, is to add organic matter. This could be home-made compost, well-rotted farmyard manure or bought compost such as mushroom compost. Ideally, you should add organic matter once or twice a year, in autumn and spring.

You can make your soil slightly more acid or alkaline by adding various chemicals. Lime, for instance, will make the soil more alkaline, and iron sulphate will make it more acidic. But in general, if you have very acid or alkaline soil, it’s a good idea to learn to live with it, and grow plants that will thrive in those conditions.

Buy topsoil

If your topsoil is very thin, or not very good quality, it may be best to import more. Topsoil is available to buy in bulk from topsoil suppliers, though do try to inspect before buying, or at the very least ask for a sample, as the quality varies considerably. It should meet British Standards, and be available in three levels of quality: premium, general purpose and economy.

Economy topsoil is really useful for filling large spaces, as it is relatively cheap. However, it is not screened, and may contain weeds or roots. General purpose topsoil is good for most garden uses, including top dressing or laying lawns, and adding soil to beds or containers. Premium topsoil is the best quality, ideal for really good flowerbeds, or for making up your own potting compost. Nurseries often use it for this.

So now you’ve analysed and improved the soil in your new garden or allotment, you’re ready to start digging it over, and planting it up or you can hire excavators sydney for all your landscape design Sydney and construction needs.

  • 0

Landscaping Steep Slope

Category : Garden

A landscaping steep slope can be a challenge for some homeowners, but as a landscape designer I love to work with elevation. If you don’t tackle hillside landscaping Beaconsfield you will have erosion problems, especially in the rainy season. However, if you tackle a steep slope as a DIY project you can end up with time and money wasted, so before you begin, plan and do your homework first.

For steep hill landscaping you will need to put in a landscaping retaining walls to keep the hill solid and to be able to retain rainfall and avoid erosion. The slope can be beautiful and interesting if you plan carefully, and it can also add value to your property.
These are some options and tips for landscaping a steep slope:

  • Build a terraced hill
  • Make retaining walls
  • Build planters
  • Plant erosion controlling plants and mix with native plants
  • Make sure the top of the wall will be higher than the soil level behind it to prevent mud and any liability in case of a landslide
  • Have a curved pathway or paved steps going up the steep hill for access
  • Plant big trees downward of the slope to prevent erosion

Here are some great groundcover plants that prevent erosion and beautify a sloping hillside:

  • Ceanothus griseus horizontalis, Carmel Creeper
  • Cotoneaster dammeri, Bearberry Cotoneaster
  • Baccharis pilularis ‘Pigeon Point’, Coyote Bush
  • Artemisia californica ‘Canyon Gray’, Canyon Gray Sagebrush
  • Carissa macrocarpa ‘Prostrata’, Ground Cover Natal Plum (also fire resistant)
  • Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Dwarf Plumbago (also as lawn substitute)
  • Lantana montevidensis Lavender Swirl TM, Lavender Swirl TM Lantana (lawn substitute, fire resistant)
  • Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Prostratus’, Prostrate Rosemary (fire resistant)
  • Arctostaphylos ‘Emerald Carpet’, Manzanita Emerald Carpet (lawn substitute)
  • Pyracantha ‘Santa Cruz’, Santa Cruz Firethorn

  • 0

Vegetable Container Gardening

Category : Garden

Vegetable container gardening (sometimes also known as urban gardening or patio gardening) basically involves growing your vegetables in pots. It is perfect for garden lovers who live in apartments, condominiums, townhomes, or otherwise have no significant gardening space. (Also, vegetable container gardening is a good fix for those who enjoy gardening, but just don’t have much time for the hobby.)

The only real requirement for container gardening is that you have an area with plenty of sunlight. Position your planters or pots in a very sunny (or partially sunny) location.

You can use any variety of items for containers, depending upon how functional they are and how attractive you want them to be. Window boxes, hanging planters, and decorative pots make aesthetically pleasing planters.
More budget friendly vegetable container gardening pots might include: nursery containers, terracotta pots, ceramic tubs or pots, even plastic buckets (make sure they have adequate holes in the bottom for drainage).

Regardless of the type of container you use, make sure that it isn’t one that contains harmful chemicals that can leach into your plant’s soil. You certainly don’t want those chemicals to end up in your family’s vegetables!

** Gardening Tips:

Plastic pots do not dry out as quickly as clay ones.
If you live in a hot summer location, try to use light colored pots for your vegetable container gardening. This will help prevent your plants from baking in the sun!

On the other hand, if you live in a colder gardening climate, try to use dark colored pots for your vegetable container gardening. These will absorb heat and may help extend your growing season.

Choose a light planting soil, and consider mixing in vermiculite, perlite or peat moss. These will help with drainage and break up the soil.

** Gardening Tips:

Use soil ph tester to Test the pH level of your potting soil to make sure it is in line with your plant’s needs.

Slow release fertilizers are generally recommended for vegetable container gardening. Slow release fertilizers feed your plants throughout the season.

Consider using more natural or organic forms of fertilizers as an alternative. However, you will need to fertilize your plants at least once a month during the growing season.

Vegetable Container Gardening Pitfall:

Be careful! Soil in containers tends to dry out very quickly. You will need to offer your plants a light watering daily.

** Gardening Tips:

Apply a layer of mulch* on top of the soil in your containers, to help keep the plant’s roots cooler and prevent water from evaporating as quickly.
(*Don’t use mulch on your lettuce or leafy crops… it tends to cause them to rot.)

Note: When selecting plants or seeds for your vegetable container garden, try to pick ones that have a shorter growing period.

Garden plants that tend to be successful with vegetable container gardening:

• Tomatoes
• Cucumbers
• Herbs (chives, parsley, etc.)
• Lettuce
• Peppers
• Runner beans
• Spinach
• Eggplant
• Green Onions
• Strawberries

Recent Comments