Preparing the Ground:- If the site is overgrown, it is usually well worth the effort to improve it before planting, unless you just want to add some extra plants to the existing wild garden.
- Clear any Perennial Weeds:- The most effective method is often to remove the roots of perennial weeds. If this is not practicable, then spraying with a weedk-iller like glyphosphate will usually help. Sometimes burying, by double digging, will work (eg when digging up a lawn).
- Improve Drainage if Necessary:- This particularly relates to compacted and/or low-lying clay soils. Often digging, especially if the sub-soil is broken up by double-digging, will improve the drainage to some extent at least. It may be worth installing some land drains (these are available as lightweight coils of plastic pipe from building/agricultural merchants).
- Prepare Soil:- Depending on the type of soil, this may range from just forking over an existing garden bed, to double digging a compacted clay soil. Double digging involves taking out one or two spade depth by two or three spade widths of soil and moving it to the end of the bed. Then dig down in the base of the resulting trench to break up any compacted soil or sub-soil. It may be useful to then mix some organic matter (eg manure or compost) with the sub-soil. Then turn the next two or three spade widths over into the first trench, dig over the base of the second trench and so on. At the end of the bed, place the material from the first excavation in the last trench. If the soil is very thin, then it may be worth importing some top soil.
Planting Time:- Container grown plants can be planted at any time, while bare root specimens are usually available between October and March.
- Late Summer/Autumn Planting:- This is the best time to plant to obtain good sized plants the following year. It is also the time of year when many nursery plants are at their freshest, since they will have been growing vigorously in the summer. The disadvantage is that there may be existing plants which have not yet finished their display in the current year in the space to be filled.
- Winter Planting:- Most hardy perennials can be successfully planted throughout the winter, although the ground may be too wet or frozen at some times. Some of the less hardy subjects may be better planted in Spring, and dahlias and cosmos need storing in a shed during the winter.
- Spring Planting:- Spring is the most popular time for planting. The plants are starting to grow and will produce a display relatively quickly.
- Summer Planting:- Container-grown plants can be planted throughout the summer, provided they are watered during dry periods. This is a useful way of filling gaps in borders, or even replanting. Since the plants are growing at this time, they will make a better display the following year than if planted in the Autumn or the following Spring.
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