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Ground preparation know how

We have just moved house and inherited a very overgrown garden, how should we clear this?

Start by cutting down all tall weeds, brambles and any other unwanted plants, using a grass hook or pair of hand sheers. Weeds should also be eradicated. Remove any large stones and debris, saving any materials suitable for hardcore, should you be planning a patio, raised beds or rockery.

Should I use a spade or fork to dig over the garden?

This really depends on the type of soil you have. A garden needs to be dug over to break up any compacted areas and aerate the soil in readiness for planting. If the soil is very heavy and contains a large amount of clay a spade will probably be most useful. If your soil is less compacted and contains crumbly particles a fork can be used.

The soil in my garden is very hard, how do I break up the ground?

Break up any compacted areas with a pick. The ground should then be dug over with a spade or fork. If the soil is very heavy and contains a large amount of clay you should consider improving the drainage. Soil will be greatly improved by the addition of sand, grit and organic matter.

How do I improve the quality of my soil in readiness for planting?

Manure, compost, leaf mould or rotted bark provide good organic matter and the essential bacteria to activate soil micro life for more nutrition and oxygen. Apply 1 bucketful per square metre, after digging in with a fork, rake the area with a soil rake to create crumbly particles. A continuous action of treading and raking gives a level surface conducive to seed germination whether you are planting a flower bed or lawn.

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