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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

What on earth

Find out how to get the best results from the life and soul of your garden

Soil is the foundation upon which we build our gardens, yet it’s not always understood how to get the best out of it. This month we take a closer look, to get a clearer idea of what should be taken into consideration when selecting what to grow and how to improve matters.

Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden is the perfect example of how finding the right plants for your conditions can make even the poorest soils a flourishing success
Image The Beth Chatto Gardens

Understanding your soil

Take the guess work out of what will grow in your garden by learning what your soil will happily support. There are two main areas to take into consideration when deciding what plants to grow in your soil, one is the pH level, which tells you whether you have acidic or alkaline soil. The other is structure, across the country this will vary from heavy clay to fine and sandy.

You may be able to get a rough idea of the pH levels in your area by the types of plants that are predominantly grown there. Yet, the surest way to find out what pH you have is to buy a test kit from your local garden centre, follow the instructions on the pack and you will be given a result that tells you where the soil falls on a scale of very acidic to very alkaline. Most plants will be happiest at around 6.5 to 7 which is neutral to slightly acidic.

The texture of your soil may already be very obvious to you, but for those who aren’t so sure a very simple test to carry out is to pick up a handful of wet soil and squeeze. If it comes together in a sticky ball you have soil that is formed mostly of clay or silt, if it crumbles without even attempting to form a ball you have sandy soil, and if it comes together, yet easily crumbles under pressure you most likely have loam. The gardener’s dream is loam, as this offers the perfect blend of clay, silt and sand, resulting in an environment that is water retentive, free draining and rich in nutrients.

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Is it just me, or do you love the month of May too? Not only does it feel like summer is on the way, but we also get those cheeky bank holidays to enjoy. For many of us the longer, warmer days mean that it’s the perfect time to tackle those decorating jobs we’ve been thinking about. In this issue we’ve got plenty of expert advice to help you plan your next decorating project and redesign your rooms like a stylist (p.36). If you’re thinking about updating your bathroom, then we’ve got some great monochrome schemes to inspire you (p.48), plus three readers share their own bathroom transformations with us (p.24) and they’ve got plenty of great ideas for you to steal. If, like me, you have a tiny kitchen, you’ll love our clever suggestions and smart solutions to make the most of the space you have (p.54). Now that summer is on the horizon, our thoughts turn to spending more time outdoors. On page 106 we discuss how to turn your alfresco space into an extension of your home. From balconies to terraces, patios to decks, we’ve got ideas for every space, no matter how big or small. If you’re a fan of street food, check out our delicious recipes on page 100 which will show you how to recreate all your favourite dishes at home. The Bajan fish cakes are really delish! Finally, to help you with your bank holiday projects we’ve put together a special free magazine to accompany this issue, full of quick and easy ideas to revamp your home in just a few hours. Happy decorating!