What is the best way to prepare garden soil for planting?

Many people mistakenly label themselves as hopeless gardeners because their plants fail to thrive. However the most common reason for poor plant performance is simply that the soil is poor quality. If the soil is not in good shape, no matter how carefully you tend to a new plant, it won’t do well and may even die.

In the garden department, it’s important to remind customers that good soil quality is essential to plant health.

Here are the best tips on preparing garden soil for planting:

Work out what soil type you have

Clay, sandy and loamy soils are the most common in Australia. Loamy soil looks nice and crumbly, has a good balance of clay, sand and organic matter and plants just love it! If your soil is too sandy it will lose water very easily. If you have a clay soil it can hold too much water and become sticky and/or compacted. Adding extra organic matter to sandy or clay soils helps improve them. A wetting agent such as Yates Waterwise Soil Saturator can also help sandy soils retain moisture. Gypsum can be dug into a clay soil to help break it up.

Add organic matter

No matter what type of soil you have, adding organic matter will improve it. Organic matter is composed of organic compounds that have come from the remains of once-living plants and animals and their waste products. The most common types of organic matter are compost and manure such as cow manure.

Check soil acidity

Most plants prefer a neutral soil, so if your soil is too acidic or alkaline, many plants will not grow well. Before planting, test your soil’s pH – kits are readily available at the nursery or in the garden department of your local hardware store. Add ground lime to make the soil more alkaline. To make the soil more acidic, you need to add aluminium sulphate or sulphur.

Improve soil quality

Using the right product will enable you to improve your soil quality quickly and easily. Yates Blood n Bone is an organic based fertiliser that provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth and phosphorus for strong root development. A dusting Yates Blood n Bone will improve soil structure, promote soil microorganisms and encourage earthworms. Similarly, Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food releases nutrients slowly and improves the structure and moisture retention of the soil.

Consider what you are planting

Different plants have slightly different soil preferences, so it makes sense to factor your plant choice into your soil preparation. Roses prefer cow manure over chicken manure which contains too much nitrogen. Meanwhile, azaleas, rhododendrons and camellias are acidloving plants and won’t thrive in a clay soil