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Light, sandy soils are prone to drought, involving more labor and expensive manure to improve a naturally undesirable soil. Light soils may be treated with clay or muck, and clay soils with sand, ashes, and other light, porous materials in order to make them more useable and able to grow your plants.

These additions allow the nature of the surface layer to be modified and made useful for planting and tilling. Remember that no treatment of the surface will meet the case if the subsoil is unsuitable. These operations necessarily imply outlay, which in a large garden may be a heavy one. If the purchaser has a choice, it may be best to consider a plot with suitable soil if possible.

You should also avoid made ground because the composition can be made from anything from gas lime to meat tins. This type of soil will create many unpleasant surprises for the gardener, and might be perfectly hopeless for horticulture. Made ground that has been undisturbed for a long time is generally so thickly covered with surface growth that its character is not apparent.

This is why trial trenches are a good idea. Peat land does not constitute a good site either, because the existence of peat means the soil can be water logged. Adding drainage can be effective in creating useful land, providing that the subsoil permits the draining of water thoroughly.

Land which was recently cultivated, and not left to sit and pasture is preferable; because it has a greater depth of surface soil. The constant working and adding of fertilizers to the soil will make it much better for a gardener to use and work with.

Pasture land does have its advantages though. Additional labor and expense may be needed to bring the soil up to working condition, but against that it may be possible to preserve part of the pasture as grass, avoiding the necessity for turfing or sowing.
With small garden plots the question of aspect is perhaps the most important factor for the gardener to consider. The size of the plot will need to be measured, not just for length and breadth, but also for amount of sunlight. Aspect also is the key to the successful planning of the small garden.

The sun in our latitude passes from east to west by a sweep to the south. This means the north side of houses, trees, and other fixed objects receive no sunshine while the east and west sides receive sun only in the morning and evening respectively. Keep these facts in mind when determining your setting.

A southern aspect means flowers cannot reside to the rear of the house. This aspect is perfect for the gardener who prefers flowers in a front lawn or front courtyard area!

An eastern or western aspect will give a shady strip on the north side of the house, which may be good or bad according to circumstances. It is best that the shady side should be that on which the kitchen and its offices are situated, thus admitting of flower growing at the side of the house upon which the living rooms look out.