Homes - Gardens

Gardening FAQs

Get your garden growing with these helpful horticultural hints.

What are the best plants for shade?
Any spot in your garden that gets less than four hours of sun a day is considered a shady spot. The key to successful growing here is the soil condition. Use composted leaves and mulch to keep the soil moist and to provide humus. Among trees, shade-lovers include dogwoods and Japanese maples, although the red leaves like at least a few hours of sun a day. Wherever your shade is most dense, you can't go wrong with hostas or hydrangeas. And if you just can't live without some colour, there are plenty of options. Try impatiens, forget-me-nots, foxglove, primrose, begonias, astilbes, bleeding hearts or rhododendrons.

What's the best kind of soil?
If you cast your mind back to high school science, you may remember something called the pH level. Something with a low pH is highly acidic. Something with a high pH is highly alkaline. A lot of plants get the most nutrients from neutral soil. But not all of them. Highly alkaline soils are good for peonies and peas, while blueberries and azaleas love acidic soil. You can test your soil with a home test kit or send a sample away to a lab for testing. Altering the pH is not difficult. To neutralize, add organic matter. If you want to increase the acidity, the quickest way is to add garden sulphur, but peat, black tea leaves and coffee grounds will also do the trick. For a more alkaline soil, add limestone or crushed oyster shells.

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