Understanding your garden

Laying the groundwork


understanding your garden

When it comes to plotting and planning your perfect outside space, it’s important to know which plants will thrive in the space you are working with. There are a few different factors that will play a key role, including how much sunlight your garden gets and the type of soil in your beds and borders. If you gain a basic understanding of these areas, you will have be able to choose the right plants for your garden. 




Aspect refers to where the sun rises and sets in relation to your garden. A south facing garden will get a lot of sun, whereas north facing gardens, which are usually overshadowed by buildings, get less direct sun.  East facing gardens will get the morning sun, while west facing gardens bask in afternoon and evening sun. Luckily there are plants for all aspects, and all varieties will fall into one of the below categories… 

Full Sun

This means the plant needs 6 hours of direct sunlight during the day to thrive

Part Shade

This means that the plant needs 3-6 hours of sunlight each day to perform well. The shade might well be from a building, shed, or even other plants


This means that the plant needs little or no direct sun during the day. It refers to plants that prefer areas on the north side of buildings or walls, or those that live in places like woodlands.  



Getting to know your soil is the key to understanding which plants will flourish and thrive in your garden. Remember the golden rule, right plant, right place.  To identify your soil, start by picking up a handful and squeezing it together between your fingers.  

What is organic matter?

Organic matter takes many forms, such as multi-purpose, peat-free compost, well-rotted animal manure and home-made compost.  

Most of our plants like either moist or well-drained soil. It’s helpful to understand your soil, so you know how to improve it, to create the best conditions for what you want to grow.  Use the table below to identify your soil type and understand how best to work with it.




Clay: Feels sticky, and when rubbed together will feel smooth

Good at holding vital nutrients and water. Generally suits plants that like moist, or moist to well-drained soil.  

Add organic matter and grit. Or introduce clay buster soil improver

Sand: Feels gritty and the grains will not stick together when squeezed.

Free draining. Usually lower in nutrients and struggles to hold water.  Perfect for plants that like well-drained soil.  

Add organic matter, such as multi-purpose, peat-free compost.

Loam: Feels velvety or flour-like when dry and forms a weak ball shape when wet, which when dry, will crumble apart. 

The most desirable soil as it retains moisture and captures nutrients in just the right way.  Presents optimal conditions for most plants. 

Even the best soil will benefit from a top layer of organic matter every now and then.  

Chalk: Will have large lumps in it and will be be difficult to mould. 

Alkaline, and usually free draining and not so rich in nutrients. Perfect for plants that require well-drained soil, and also anything that requires alkaline soil specifically.  

Add organic matter, such as multi-purpose, peat-free compost.

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