How to design a garden | Outdoor & Garden

Suss out the soil

Good soil is crucial for a healthy, beautiful garden. There are many different types – chalk, clay, sand, peat and loam – with loam the best of all. Knowing which type of soil you have will help you decide which plants you can grow, as well as how well they’ll grow once planted. It can also be important for landscaping projects, as some are harder to work with than others.

We also recommend testing your soil to find out its pH (the acidity). Some plants prefer ericaceous soil (acidic) while others like lime (alkaline) soil. And test the soil in various parts of your garden, as its pH might vary.

Consider your garden’s aspect

Which way is your garden facing? North, south, east or west? Whichever direction, or ‘aspect’ you have can help you choose where you want things to go. There’s no point having a decked area for enjoying the sunshine in the shadiest corner of the garden. Sketch the arc of the sun onto your plan, so that you can see where the shadows will fall.

And look out for micro-climates. All gardens contain a series of micro-climates that are partly determined by the compass direction each area faces. These offer different levels of light, warmth and moisture.

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