Soil and Planting


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Soil and planting is a key part to garden success. Properly preparing your soil and planting your selections properly will ease the need for maintenance. It is much easier to address any issues or defficiences with the soil prior to planting anything.

The first step is to prepare the planting area by turning the soil. This will give you an indication of what kind of soil your dealing with and help air the soil, compacted soil is never a good thing. I will discuss the 3 major soil issues and how to deal with them.

  • WET CLAY SOIL - there are probably many ways to deal with this soil but I have found something that has worked well for me. I like to chop the soil up as much as possible and add fireplace ash, peat moss, and a little sand. The sand must not contain silican or it will turn to concrete. I also take the opportunity to add some compost and some time release fertilizer at the same time. Mix it all together by turning the soil several more times.
  • DRY CLAY SOIL - this is more difficult to deal with. The need is to add something to the soil in order to help it retain moisture. Again I chop it up into smaller pieces but this time I add some peat moss and top soil. The top soil is made to hold water for sod prep and usually contains chunks of good clay. I also add some compost and time release fertilizer.
  • SANDY DRY SOIL - The worst to deal with. It's hard to add sufficient moisture retention to this soil. When I came across this soil my only solution was to add moist clay. I still added some peat moss but skipped everything else. Some people like to add the little styrofoam balls but they are not environmentally friendly.

  • Of coarse each of the flowers has different needs, annuals have shallow roots versus trees with deep roots etc. That is why it is so important to mix the soil well so that all layers have similar qualities. The goal is to have nutrients in the soil and moisture that is held just right.

    Planting can be just as important especially with larger plants and flowers. With anything larger than a flat of annuals the hole prep is important. The hole should be dug twice the width and 1 and a half times the depth of the root ball. I do not return the dug soil around the plant. I prefer to put a rich composted soil around and under the plant. This allows the roots to expand and gain strength prior to hitting the surrounding soil. If you would like to use the existing soil just add a little extra peat moss to it. I also like to break up the root ball a little before placing it in the ground, this will encourage the roots to expand much faster. Always give everything newly planted a good drink to help avoid severe shock.

    Soil and planting are more labor intensive than difficult. Once you have determined the soil type the rest is easy. Soil and planting are just necessary parts to creating a strong, blooming and thick garden bed.