First you must determine natural conditions of the plot; that is: natural topography and soil type.
If you are the owner of a flat plot the design process should be fairly easy. However, if your plot is has considerable slopes, it might be better to seek help from experts.
Terrain inclination leads to big differences in insolation which has a great influence on plants’ selection. Also you should consider geographic orientation of your plot to evaluate light conditions.
Good tipWhen analyzing conditions, do not forget about surroundings, for instance, presence of high trees or buildings, which could obscure your garden. Remember that a neighbouring land can also emphasize advantages of your plot as a great background for your future garden.
A basis for plants’ proper growth is appropriate bedding. It influences hydrographic conditions and mineral components absorption of your plants. Therefore, determining a soil type is a critical planning step.There are three basic soil types:
- sandy soil.
In recognizing soil structure the following brief experiment is helpful:
Take samples about 10 cm deep from different parts of your garden.
Then remove leaves, roots, and stones and try to form a roller of about 0,5 cm diameter.If:
- your roller is sticky, smooth, easy to form, your soil is clay;
- your roller is not sticky but smooth, easy to form but fall to pieces quickly, your soil is loam;
- soil slips through your fingers and you cannot form any shape of it, it is certainly sand.
Availability of nutrients is dependent on soil pH; therefore, you need to determine this too. There are electrical gardening meters or more common soil acidometers in a form of a ceramic plate with the Hellig’s fluid (you can buy it in gardening shops) that you can use in order to do that.
Most of plants prefer neutral soil (pH 6,5). Higher values indicate alkaline soil and lower values indicate acidic soil.
Good tipPlease note that a dark colour of soil does not necessarily mean its high quality.
The most common species that like or tolerate acidic soil:
heathers and biars, azaleas, rhododendrons, acer palamtums, berberis thunbergii, hydrangeas, magnolia, honeysuckles, willows, black alders, dwarf and dwarf white birch, witch hazels.
The most common species that like or tolerate alkaline soil:
savin juniper, taxus baccata, Serbian spruce, larch, mountain and European black pine, barberries (beside thunbergii), elderberry, grey alder, common box, chaenomeles, European rowan, European cornel, hazels, cotoneaster, forsythia, lavender, privets, mock-orange, beech, roses, weigela.
Apart from soil, hydrographic conditions of your garden are very important. Too high level of groundwater can be a threat not only to an buildings but also to plants. If water is present at the depth of 120 cm you have to give up many tree species of deep taproot (among others, pine tree, larch, spruce, ash). Luckily, there are many plants which like wet soil: white and black spruce, northern whitecedar, box elder and silver maple, black and grey alder, many dogwoods, most of willows, elderberry, and water elder.
Now it’s the time to decide which existing components of your garden are worth keeping and which should be removed. If there are high trees in your garden it might be a good idea to take advantage of them.