Information, Resources & Advice

Plants, Gardens & Nature

What type of soil do I have?

This is very important, as there is no point spending good money on plants which are not suited to your soil and which will fail to grow well or just die. Factors to consider are:

Drainage: is your soil wet or dry? does it become boggy and flooded?, or is it rock hard and bone dry?.

Organic content: as general rule the more dark and brown your soil the more organic material present which plants utilize for nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as several others.

Structure: ideally a good growing soil should be open and crumbly when run through the hands, if it is like brick or smears when squeezed between the fingers it may require treatment.

pH: without getting too technical, this a measure of the amount of hydrogen ions in the soil, a lot makes the soil acidic (pH 1 to 6.9), less makes the soil neutral (pH 7), then alkaline (pH 7+). Buy a pH tester kit from your local garden centre, these are quite cheap and easy to use.

Chalk & Clay: two other main types of soil to look for are chalky soils and clays. Chalky soils will have an alkaline or high pH, which affects what you can grow. Rhododendrons prefer acid soils, so they would need to be planted in containers. Clay: can often be very heavy, it either bakes hard or is very wet, there are plants which can grow in either of these conditions, but you may need to improve the soil, by adding manure, compost or sand, in order to improve the drainage or water holding capacity, as required.