This is my 1st ever instructable (so be kind!) which I've dedicated to Gardening.
3 months ago I moved into a brand new house and unfortunately the builders left my garden a state. It's bumpy, sloped and contains lots of objects like nails, broken bricks and plastic (I've yet to dig up the dead body which I'm pretty sure I'll find!).
As such my garden is on ongoing project. The picture below is what it will look like when it's completed (which I will replace with an actual photo!)
Now I'm lucky. I've known what I've wanted in my garden for the last 15 or so years with my BBQ design going through a change pretty much every year.
However in other ways I'm unlucky. At our last house I started to clear the garden and had a stroke (I was 24).
Obviously that took some time to get over. 2 years ago I started to clear the garden again and in the week between gardening I came off my motorbike and fractured my spine.
Now my wife says I'm as stubborn as a mule, so this year I will get our garden sorted. Luckily its a pretty blank slate (bar the slight imperfections that can be fixed with hard work).
If you're a office monkey like me (I'm a graphic designer) gardening will give you:
Blisters (which will turn into hard skin)
Muddy shoes (which your other half will shout at you for)
Before you start any gardening buy some gardening gloves and some radox. You'll thank me later!
Step 1: Getting to Know Your Garden!
First: Measure you garden.
This is vital as then you can figure out what you have to work with.
Second: Figure out your soil type.
This is important as you can then figure out what will grow well and what wont.
There are 3 main soil types:
Soil contains a high volume of clay which holds too much water normally due to poor drainage.
If your soil has a high clay content add gypsum (and maybe a little sharp sand) and mix extremely well. This not only helps improve the drainage with also adds aeration and makes good strong roots in plants. Gypsum breaks down the clay particles but doesn't affect the PH.
Soil contains a high volume of sand which doesn't hold enough water due to too much drainage.
If your soil has a high sand content you need to add organic material and lots of it! Mushroom compost and Chicken manure (with sawdust) will help improve sandy soil, but sandy soil is the hardest to improve as the nutrients get washed away.
The perfect soil. Holds enough water for plants yet has good drainage.
It is a mixture of sand and organic matter. The sand allows water to drain yet the organic matter holds the required water for the plant roots.
If you're going to plant anything then I suggest you also by a soil PH kit.
Certain plants like different PH levels (for instance Aloe love alkaline soil yet Viola don't).
Third: Determine your needs.
What do you need your garden for?
Are you a foodie and would love to grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables?
Do you have children that need some play space?
Do you have a burning desire for that perfect BBQ?
Do you have a pet?
All these criteria will lead to different types of gardens. I would love to grow my own vegetables for the kitchen, yet I suspect my 2 children might have other ideas. I suspect my Guinea Pig wouldn't mind though!
Fourth: Figure out which direction you garden is facing
This will determine how much sunlight your garden will get.
My garden is North/South facing which means I get a lot of direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day. Some plants love this, some don't. However it will affect soil moisture levels (due to evaporation).