Forum home Plants

New to gardening

Good morning, having built a new house the only thing we've done to the garden is lay a lawn ( not a good one at that) we have no flowers, no plants and quite frankly extremely bland.  This year I need colour to attract birds, bees and butterflies.  I gave no idea where to start someone said I need to test the soil, how do I go about this? 


  • raisingirlraisingirl Posts: 6,909

    Two things to do, one is to get a good handful of soil in your hand and squeeze it together, then open your palm flat. If the soil stays in a perfect ball you have clay soil. If you can see your thumb print still in it, you have heavy clay. If it roughly stays together but in a loose lump, you have clay-loam (lucky you). If it comes together but immediately crumbles, it's either chalky or sandy (I expect you'll be able to see which with a quick poke about), if it won't stick together at all it's very sandy, most likely.

    Second thing is to go to your local garden centre and but a small pH test kit (£5 to £10, depending where you're shopping). Follow the instructions on the packet o take a few tests around your garden in a different places. This will tell you if you acidic, neutral or limey soil.

    Then come back and talk to us about your results image The combination of acidity and texture dictates which plants will thrive, do OK, or die within a season. For example, I have acidic clay here, so I can grow roses, azaleas and blueberries. I used to live in Gloucestershire, where I had sandy lime soil, so I could grow lavender and grapes. There are things you can do to adjust whatever you have, and worst case, you can always grow a special plant in a pot with specifically designed soil. But it's best to know where you're starting before you decide where you want to go. 

    “It's still magic even if you know how it's done.” 
  • Hi 

    As you state it's a new build property I wouldn't be surprised that your boarder may be full of builders rubble and very poor sandy soil. Hopefully, you will find that it's not that bad so, if you have a garden fork, then start to check your soil for this .As stated by rasingirl, your best to get a soil ph test done to confirm the type of soil you have - acid, neutral or alkaline. I would think you will need to improve your soil with as much manure as possible if it is a poor quality.Then based on your type of soil and you have  put some goodness back in to the soil, then the encyclopaedia of plants is numerous. You will also have to take in to consideration the type of natural sunlight your garden gets. Sunny, part shade, full shade, dappled shade. Depending on the light your plants will get you will need to carefully consider plant planting positions based on light. Basically, anything over 6 hours of sunlight is a sunny position anything under 6 hours is part shade position 

    It does seem as if there is a lot to take in to consideration when starting a garden for the  first time but every plant up buy should have a decription label with all the info on soil and light requirements

    Also request info on this blog if unsure on what plants will survive and thrive in your garden 

Sign In or Register to comment.