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Although it's simple to do, soil care reaps rich rewards
Whatever your soil type there will be plants that love it and treatment that will help it. Make sure you know what is best for your garden soil.
Rhododendrons are regarded as ericaceous or lime-hating plants unsuitable for alkaline or limey soils. Some species and rootstocks may have some tolerance of more alkaline conditions.
Seaweed has been used as a soil improver for centuries, particularly in coastal areas. Seaweed contains several useful plant nutrients, including nitrogen, potassium, phosphate and magnesium. There are dried and liquidised forms available from garden centres and seaweed is a common additive to fertilisers, both organic and non-organic.
Knowing whether your soil type is clay, sand, silt, loam, peat or chalk will help you choose the right plants for your garden and maintain them in good health.
Soil cultivation or digging may be hard work but, if taken slowly, it need not be back-breaking. In fact, here we describe how it can often be omitted or at least minimised.
When designing and planting your garden, you need to know whether the soil is acid or alkaline, as different plants thrive in different soils. The soil pH is a number that describes how acid or alkaline your soil is. A pH of 7.0 is considered neutral. An acid soil has a pH value below 7.0 and above 7.0 the soil is alkaline.
Topsoil is the uppermost layer of soil, which is high in nutrients and organic matter. It is widely available to buy in bags or in bulk from specialist suppliers, garden centres and DIY superstores. It can be used for making new beds, borders, raised beds or as a base for lawns, where the natural soil is poor or non-existent.
Few garden plants will survive waterlogging or flooding. Prolonged periods of sitting in ground saturated with water causes yellow leaves, root rot and death. However, conditions can be improved using various techniques to promote drainage and prevent damage.
Water-retaining granules can be added to growing medium to increase its ability to retain water for longer periods of time. They may help reduce the demand of frequent watering during dry spells and are particularly handy in hanging baskets and containers, and where coarse-textured free-draining potting media is used.
Wood and bark from chipped or shredded tree, shrub and hedge prunings makes a useful mulching material in the garden.
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