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Garden & soil conditions

Help solve your gardening problem. Here are the answers to some commonly asked gardening questions about garden and gardening conditions with hints, tips and advice.

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What can I do to prevent my garden from becoming waterlogged?

This can be a major problem and one that may need serious attention to to overcome; see point 3.

1) I'd start by digging over the soil to a depth of 45cm (18in), breaking up any hard or compacted clay soil layers or 'pans' (you may need a pickaxe or similar for this) and digging in plenty of organic matter (well-rotted manure, compost, mushroom compost, leafmould etc.) at the rate of a wheelbarrowful per 2-3 sq yd. Place a 2.5cm (1in) thick layer of sharp sand on the soil before digging and work this in at the same time.

2) If this doesn't cure the problem, dig a sump at the lowest point. This should be about 90cm (3ft) square and as deep as need be. Fill with brick rubble, stones etc. Top off with gravel. You can then lay a planting membrane on top and cover over with soil if you need to plant there - but this is often best avoided as the soil will drain very quickly.

3) If this doesn't work then you will have to lay land drains, which will need to be connected to the main sewers. In this case I would get the advice of a professional.

What plants will survive salt winds and shingle ground?

The following plants are all suitable for growing in coastal gardens. Because the soil is so poor it is vital that you dig in plenty of bulky organic matter - compost, well-rotted manure, composted bark etc. - otherwise the plants will never establish.

Regular watering for the first year or so will be essential, too.

Shrubs: Atriplex, Choisya, Colutea, Cordyline, Cotoneaster, Cytisus, Elaeagnus, Escallonia, Euonymus, Fuchsia, Garrya, Genista, Hebe, Helianthemum, Hydrangea, Ilex, Lavandula, Lavatera, Olearia, Phlomis, Phormium, Pyracantha, Rosmarinus, Santolina, Senecio, Spiraea, Tamarix, Yucca.
Herbaceous perennials: Acanthus, Agapanthus, Centranthus, Dianthus, Echinops, Eryngium, Kniphofia, Nepeta, Pelargonium, Sedum.

Anything with silver/grey foliage.


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