Proper Drainage:

One of the most important things to remember when finding or creating your soil is drainage; you are trying to plant a garden… not fill a pond. The entire permaculture of insects, bacteria, and microbes that are required for a garden to thrive do better in well-drained soil. If your soil is too thick and does not drain well or does not hold moisture well, the answer is compost, compost, compost.

Thick soil also does well with the addition of some sand; take care not to add too much lest your soil turn into a sieve. Good soil is the most important step to a fantastic garden. The loose, dark earth of the gorgeous gardens seen on television and in magazines doesn’t just happen. It is created by gardeners just like you that work to improve their native soils.

Soil types have many different variations and extremes. From constantly dry, nutrientpoor sand to 90 percent rocks held together with 10 percent soil, all the way to rich, heavy clay (which forms a slick, sticky, shoesucking muck when wet and then dries to a brick like hardness). Fortunately for us, most soil conditions fall somewhere in between these extremes. Still, very few homeowners find they have that ideal “rich garden loam” to work with.

Soils can be amended with sand to make them looser and drier or with clay to make them moister and firmer. They can be given plentiful doses of organic material — old leaves, ground-up twigs, rotted livestock manure, and old lawn clippings — to improve texture and structure. Organic matter nourishes any kind of soil, which, in turn, encourages better plant growth. Read the tips below to learn how to make the most out of your garden. The first step is to identify your garden conditions by having your soil tested.