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soil preparation

merlotmerlot Posts: 25

Hello this is my first post.

I live in a flat and outside my front door is a strip of garden about 8mtrs long and it slopes up at an angle of approx. 40 degrees,At the top is a concrete post and panel fence, I want to grow honeysuckle and jasmine up the fence.By the looks of things the ground has not had a spade in it for  donkeys years and I welcome some advice on how to prepare the soil .

depth and width of holes.

type of compost or soil


any feed to be added before and or after planting .

I am a just retired joiner and I am not a very expierenced gardner but I am growing  more interested every day.

I eagerly await and welcome your advice.

Many thanks.............Merlot.

Please excuse the typing.  


  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,857

    First of all you need to attache trellis or a row of wires stretched horizontally at 12 to 18 inch intervals to teh fence to support your climbers.    Then the whole bed needs completely digging over to check for bits of rubble and stones and remove any weeds and their roots.  This will also break up the soil and aerate it making it easier for roots to grow.

    Then you need to condition the soil by adding some moisture retentive matter which will also introduce beneficial organisms into the soil so work in a good thick layer of well rotted manure or garden compost which you can buy at DIY stores and garden centres if needs be.    Then select your chosen plants and dunk their pots in a bucket of water until all air bubbles stop forming.  

    Make a planting hole a bit deeper and twice as wide as the pot and then use more soil conditioner mixed with soil to back fill the hole and end up with the crown of the plant (where stems emerge from the compost) at the same level in the soil as it was in the pot.   Water well and then mulch with some more conditioner to retain moisture.   Tie the stems in loosely to their supports and keep the plants watered during dry spells until next autumn.  

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Dave MorganDave Morgan Posts: 3,123

    Welcome merlot, you've come to the ideal place to learn all you need.

    Honey suckle and jasmine, both like moisture retentive soil, so you firstly need to dig the area you are planning to plant, a fork depth will give you an idea of how easy the soil is to work. If it's compacted, you will need to dig the soil to two fork depths, so the roots of anything you plant will have room to expand.

    You don't say how much sun the area gets, so I will assume it's not in full shade. If it is in full shade, some advice and planting choices will differ.

    Back to the soil, you will need to add plenty of organic stuff, farm yard manure(you can buy this in bags), a bucket full to every 2 sq ft is about right. I'd add some bonemeal in the planting holes as well.

    Any planting hole has to accommodate the root ball of what your'e planting, plus a few inches all round and underneath.

    Depth of hole is dictated by the depth of the root ball, so before removing the plant from the pot, check the depth by putting the whole pot in the hole first.

    With all shrubs you can plant slightly deeper than the soil in the pot so allow for this when testing depth.

    Water any plants, before planting, AND after planting. I normally water any new plants and leave them for half an hour before planting. It gives the plant time to take up some moisture first and there is less stress on the plant.

    Mulching is always a good idea with shrubs, a mixture of FYM and soil helps retain moisture in the soil.

    With climbers you need to provide something for them to climb up, so trellis or wire wrapped around the post are essential.

    Don't plant till you have the climbing frame in place.

    Keep the plants well watered in the first year, until they become established.

    Lastly, never be afraid to ask a question, nothing is daft, and everyone here will do everything they can to help.

    You'll get more advice so soak it up and enjoy the journey.


  • merlotmerlot Posts: 25

    image    WOW !  Thanks folks it sounds a bit daunting but I have never been afraid off hard work I hope my back holds up digging on the slope. I will start making a list and give it to the assistant in the garden centre exactly like I did when my mum used to send me to the grocers when I was a child. I cant wait to get started properly, i have already cleared the old shrubs and weeds and now I can start proper gardening.


    PS   I will  keep you posted on progress.

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 29,857

    Have fun Merlot.   Have a look at this link too as it gives advice on honeysuckles - Some are fine in sun but some do better with a bit of shade so you'll need to pick your variety accordingly.

    Can't help with jasmines as they are not hardy enough for my garden but the RHS has this advice to offer -

    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 54,358

    Merlot- you can't get any more comprehensive advice than the posters above have given. 

    Good luck with the project image

    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • merlotmerlot Posts: 25

    Thanks again everybody I think you folk are great you have given the inspiration and motivation I needed.


    I am not very bright but I can lift heavy things.image

  • merlotmerlot Posts: 25


    Honeysuckle & Jasmine have arrived this evening and I cant wait for tomorrow morning,  the planting holes are prepared with FYM. I plan to mix soil and compost 50/50 with a sprinkle of bonemeal and mulch with compost, the wire is up ready for the little blighters,.to go scrambling  up towards the heavens. (hopefully! ).


  • The Honeysuckle Plant, Both In Vine Or Shrub Form, Is Often Grown For Decorative Purposes. Not Only Aesthetically Pleasing But Also Capable Of Brightening Up Any Landscape, These Plants Attract Wildlife. On The Other Side, Honeysuckle Shrubs Are Mainly Popular Among Those Wishing To Build Hedges.

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