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Were is your Garden? Before you start buying or planting you must first you need to get to know a few things about your garden. First you must consider what sort of region your garden is in. Do you live next to the sea? Do you live on the side of a mountain 2000 feet above sea-level or maybe in the heart of a major City? Were you live more or less dictates what kind of plants you are able to grow in your garden. Living next to the sea for example were you have salty sea breezes maritime plants and some leathery leaved plants will feel at home and grow. The best way to find out what sort of plants do well in your region is to be nosey and look at all the gardens down your street and pay a visit to the local garden centre or nursery, remember to take a pen and note pad with you to jot details.

Your Garden against the elements Another thing we need to look at is, how exposed is your garden? If your garden has no surrounding fence or hedging (open-plan) then its likely that putting new plants in your garden will get damaged, killed or blown away by any strong winds. There are lots of plants that cannot withstand blustery conditions so you need some kind of sheltered protection for them. Think about erecting a panelled fence or Hedging before you start planting.

Which direction does your garden face? If your garden faces the sun, then your going to get very little shade, but best of all you will be able to grow a vast amount of plants. You can however if you like shade loving plants such as hostas, create a shady area by putting up a arbour or pergola. There maybe a tree in next doors garden that over hangs into your garden and gives some dappled shade which would provide a home for some shade loving plants.
A north facing garden does not mean its going to be a shaded and damp area all the time. Most north facing gardens still receive sun light and warmth through the day. It maybe at one end of the garden that there is sunshine most of the day, and another corner of the garden may see a few hours of sun, and there is usually always a spot which receives no sun at all. It's a good idea to make a note of these shaded and sunny areas, jot them down on your note pad.

Frost looks nice but its a killer Frosts can destroy plants in no time at all. Frost forms were very cold air gathers and lingers in a dip or hollow. Gardens that have hollows , dips and tend to slope away tend to suffer some frost. Cold air flows down the slope or hollow of your garden and if blocked by a wall or fence it flows back on its self and forms frost in the depression. Make a note of these frost prone areas in your note pad. You will need to plant frost-hardy plants within these areas of the garden.

What is soil? Soil is basically a mixture of sand, clay, chalk and Humus, and when they are balance out it becomes what we call loam. Loam is a fertile, easy to cultivate, free-draining soil. Its most likely that your garden soil is made up of heavy clay, sand and large stones. But don't worry, your soil contains the main ingredients which makes up loam, but are present in the wrong proportions. Your soil can be improved by adding humus, lime and fertilizers.

Put a name to your soil Get a hand full of soil from your garden on a day when the soil is moist. Squeeze it in your hand. Is it moulding together, falling through your fingers, does it feel sticky! Just by doing this you can get an idea of what type of soil you have.

Soil Types Clay soil when squeezed can feel sticky, moulds together and forms an impression of your fingers.

Sandy soil squeezed in your hand slips through your fingers, can feel gritty and will not hold together very well.

Peaty soil will feel spongy in texture and will be dark brown or black in colour.

Acid or alkaline? If your wanting to grow Azaleas, rhododendrons, camellias and heathers, then your soil needs to contain a ph reading slightly on the acidic side as these plants & shrubs hate lime. If you want to grow vegetables and your soil ph reading is very acidic you will need to add some lime. The best ph reading to have to grow a good variety of plants and shrubs is between 6 & 6.5 , Slightly acidic. You can get a soil testing kit from your Local Garden centre. So get your soil in good condition first before you start planting.

Tools you will need
Spade to dig and shift soil
Fork for preparing soil, aerating a lawn, lifting compost.
Trowel to dig out weeds, preparing a planting hole.
Hand fork for weeding
Secateurs pruning, deadheading and clipping
Rake to prepare soil to correct texture before sowing.
Spring-tined rake to gather leaves, debris and moss from lawns
Dutch hoe for weeding
Watering can for application of chemical weed-killer and feeding
Loppers pruning of shrubs & small tree branches
Garden gloves for protection against prickly plants and bacteria
Lawnmower essential for cutting the lawn , if you have a lawn!
Wheelbarrow Ideal if you have a big garden

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