Step 1: Prepare the soil
Before you start planting, you’ll want to make sure you’ve prepared the soil properly. To do this, dig over the soil to remove any debris, old plants you no longer want, and perennial weeds. With weeds in particular you’ll want to take the time to make certain you’ve removed every part of the roots to prevent them from growing back.
Next, you’ll want to improve the soil by digging in garden compost or a soil improver – try to do this as far ahead as possible before you start planting. You’ll know the soil is ready if, when you squeeze it in your hand, it falls apart rather than staying clumped together.
Step 2: Give your plants the perfect start
Before you buy any plants it’s worth doing a pH check of your soil to make sure you choose plants that will thrive in your garden; if your soil is alkaline, acid-loving plants like Rhododendrons and Azaleas won’t grow well and will eventually die.
Similarly, it’s good to be aware of where you’re planting in your garden. Don’t place seedlings too close to already established plants as they will sap nutrients from the soil that the younger plants will need. Also, be aware of how much sunlight your new plants require. While there are some varieties that will thrive in shady spots – such as certain types of Camellia, Hydrangea and Narcissus cultivar – many others need a good dose of natural light to help them grow.
Autumn is the perfect time to plant as the soil is moist and the ground is still warm enough to encourage new root growth which will help the plants establish quickly. However, you can plant throughout the year – just make sure if you’re planting in the summer months that you water in the evening, as this will allow the water to soak into the soil rather than evaporate in the hot sunlight.
Finally, make sure you dig in some fertiliser just before you begin planting to give your plants that little boost of nutrients they’ll need to grow strong and healthy.
Step 3: Looking after your plants
All plants will need care and attention to really thrive, so always make sure you water them regularly, especially when they are newly planted and getting established, and regularly use fertiliser to provide nutrients that will encourage their continued growth. It’s also a good idea to always take the time to read the instruction labels attached to your plants when you buy them so you’re aware of any special requirements they may have.