Garden Soil Preparation is essential for Garden Landscaping

Proper garden soil preparation makes plants happy. Garden design is dependent on the soil analysis. Plants have different soil requirements. This page contains all the essential information for soil classification and preparation for successful garden landscaping.

Determine the depth of your topsoil. Dig a hole approximately 1 meter deep. Physically measure the depth of your topsoil. The hole will also reveal if you will experience any drainage problems.

Test you Soil

Do a few simple soil analysis tests to determine the quality of your soil. The test results are essential for garden soil preparation. A soil DIY test kit will show you the mineral content, and the pH of your soil. Take the test sample out of the topsoil.

The pH is a measure of the degree of alkalinity or acidity. pH is measured as a logarithmic scale from 1 to 14, 7 being neutral. A reading above 7 indicates soil alkalinity, while a reading below 7 indicates acidity. The majority of soils have a pH between 5.0 and 7.5.

The types of plants growing in your area give an indication of the soil pH. If acid loving plants like philodendrons and azaleas grow, the soil is probably acidic. Acidity can be corrected during garden soil preparation by adding lime.

Soil Classification

Soil is classified as sand, silt, clay or loam. Take a clean jar and half fill it with topsoil. Fill it almost to the top with water and shake vigorously. Let it settle overnight. Once settled, the soil composition will be apparent. Sand would have settled first, then silt and lastly the clay on top. Organic matter will float on the top of the water.

Sandy soil

Sand feels gritty when rubber between the fingers. Particles can be seen with the naked eye. There is little cohesion or binding of particles. Sandy soil is good for drainage. It is however poor in moisture and nutrient retention.

Silt soil

Silt feels smooth, velvety or soapy when rubbed between the fingers. It is also slightly sticky, and stains the fingers. Silt soil is good for drainage. It is average in moisture and nutrient retention. Silt is susceptible to surface hardening when hot weather follows rain.

Clay soil

Clay feels sticky and plastic, and shines when rubbed between the fingers. It can be shaped and bent without breaking. It also doesn’t stain. Drainage is poor when you have clay soil.

Clay soil retains nutrients well, but is difficult to cultivate. It takes long to warm up after cold weather. Clay soil cracks due to shrinkage in dry hot weather.

Loam soil

Loam is composed of varying proportions and grades of sand, silt and clay. The soil will bind together. It feels soapy, gritty or sticky when rubber between the fingers. Loam soil is light (sandy), medium (even proportions of all components) or heavy (clay).

A light loam soil breaks apart easily. Medium loam soil breaks apart under pressure. Heavy loam soil will not break apart at all.

Garden Soil Preparation

The principle chemical elements and their compounds in the soil are nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, phosphates, potash and calcium. Nitrogen is good for improving foliage. It is apt to be deficient in regions of heavy rainfall.

Phosphates are useful for root development. Potash helps to ripen and harden wood, promotes the formation of flower buds, and is good for fruit and foliage. Calcium, found in limestone and chalk, promotes the decomposition of vegetable matter.

Correct any deficiency in mineral content of your soil during your garden soil preparation. Procure the necessary fertilizers, preferably organic, from your local nursery or gardening supplier. The manufacturer normally recommends the quantities to be added to your soil, on the packaging.

Use lots of compost. Compost is absolutely the best fertilizer for garden soil preparation and maintenance. To top it, compost is organic!

Your garden soil preparation, especially where plants need to grow, is done by double digging the soil. Do this as follows:

1. Dig the soil to twice its depth.
2. Although both layers are turned over, they do not get mixed up.
3. Mark with a line and dig out a trench 600mm wide and one spade deep.
4. Take all the soil from this trench to the other side of the plot.
5. Next fork over the bottom of the trench, turning each forkful in the same spot.
6. Compost may be added at this stage.
7. Move the line back 600mm to mark the next trench.
8. Dig over the soil from this trench into the previous trench.
9. Repeat actions 5 to 8 until the whole plot has been dug over.
10. Finally use the soil from the original trench to fill the last trench.

Finally remove all roots and stones that where unearthed during your garden soil preparation. You are now ready for your Garden landscaping!

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