Planting of new plants
Before choosing plants for your garden, it is important to check what type of soil you have. Different plants adapt to different soils, and the soil may need to be improved before you start planting.
First check the consistency of the soil: is it sticky and muddy (clay) or does it fall easily between the fingers (sandy)? Somewhere in between is ideal - this type of soil is often referred to as crumbly or with a fine surface. It means that the young roots will spread easily. If your soil is heavy clay, it will be difficult to dig and add a lot of well-rotted manure or compost to improve the structure. If your soil is sandy or calcareous, you will also need to add organic matter to improve fertility.
You should also check the pH of your soil. Most plants require a neutral to acidic pH of around 6, but some require higher levels of acidity and these are often known as heather plants. It's hard to change the pH of your soil, but you can change it by adding acidic compost, or you could create a raised acid bed or container.
The most important thing to remember about soil is to choose plants that adapt to the growing conditions of your plot - it's easier than trying to change the soil. If you are lucky enough to have a new garden or have created a new bed and have decided which plants, it is a good idea to make a planting plan. You can cut out the plant images you want from catalogs and magazines and play how to set them up. When your plants have arrived, arrange them and play with the layout. Make sure you read the instructions and leave enough space around the plant for it to spread when in full growth.
Planting potted plants
Dig a hole suitable for the plant you have chosen. With a potted plant, you can check this by placing the pot in the hole. It should fit snugly, with an extra 2cm around the perimeter, while its depth shouldn't be deeper than that pot itself. Most small shrubs are sold in plastic pots, which have often outgrown. You may find that your chosen shrub has a very tight sod. In this case, gently peel off the root mat and loosen the soil - don't worry about damaging the plant, as new roots will grow.
Plant bare root shrubs and trees
If you have a bare root plant, such as a rose, tree, or shrub, make sure there is enough room for the roots to spread comfortably. Look for the "tide mark" of the soil at the base of the plant, which shows the depth at which it was previously planted. Use this as a guide to know how deep to plant now. Fork the sides of the hole so that the soil is easier for the roots to penetrate.
Once the hole is dug to the correct depth and width, add fish, blood and bone, mycorrhizal fungi or well-decomposed manure. If using a stake, push it in now, diagonally, hammering it firmly. Place your bare root plant in the hole so that the roots are spread out and fill the hole with soil (tie it to the stake if you use one). Gently firm the soil around the planting area.
If you are planting bulbs in containers, add some cocci to the bottom to help with drainage. Then add a layer of compost. You can stack the bulbs, plant late-flowering varieties such as tulips on the bottom and early-flowering varieties, such as crocuses, on top. This "lasagna" plant style is a great way to save space. If you plant bulbs in the ground, you can naturalize them in a lawn by digging holes and bursting the bulbs three times their depth. Or you could plant a cluster around a tree, a little closer to the surface. Many bulbs will benefit from adding a handful of sand to the hole, as winter moisture could cause them to rot.
Plant small seedlings
Buying small seedlings is a really easy way to start your garden. These are small seedlings, usually bought by mail order, and early to be available in early spring, often in two sizes or growth stages. Both sizes can be potted into larger pots, so they can grow into the next stage before being planted in your borders or containers.
The key to successfully growing plug plants is to water the thorns before planting and handle the plants gently, from the top two leaves, pushing them out of the containers they come in. Fill a small pot with potting soil and make a pit in the crentre to fall into your plug.
Then gently pat the soil around it. Some varieties may need to be re-potted to the next size and can be "hardened" on the outside before planting after all hazards of frost have passed.
Depth of the hole
Check the planting requirements for plants when purchasing. For example, bearded iris should be planted with the top of the rhizome just above ground level in a sunny location.