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One of the first steps in planning a garden, and an important one, is to examine carefully the soil on the block chosen, noting any special points such as depth or apparently wet areas. It might prove advantageous to submit a sample of soil to a soil-chemist for analysis. The information gained will be of great assistance later, when, for instance, manuring treatment and future selection of shrubs and trees are being considered. The information will indicate the type of soil to be dealt with and, since different soils are dealt with in different ways, this will be useful in soil management.
Now make a rough sketch of the boundaries and the proposed layout. Consider first the utilities, the most important being the footpaths. These can be constructed in straight lines leading directly from one place to another, or they can be curved. Each type has its advantages, but a free-curving path can add greatly to the beauty of the finished garden.
Once paths have been put down they are costly to remove, so take care in arranging them. All paths should lead to some object, such as a garden seat, a clothes-hoist or a summer-house. The size of the path is determined by the amount of traffic it is to receive. A path can be made of stepping-stones placed at turf level or of concrete or gravel.
A clothes-hoist is necessary in most homes, and it should be placed so that it functions efficiently but is not conspicuous. The area round the
hoist may be paved in such a way that dwarf plants can be inserted in pockets, and a low rockery constructed round the area for growing rock-plants. You can make this part of the garden very interesting. Provision might be made to grow a number of culinary herbs in the hoist rockery; these will make the area attractive and at the same time help fulfil kitchen demands.
If the hoist area is to have a rockery, you can plant succulents such as Crassulas, Kalanchoes, Mesembryanthemums and Heeria elegens. Idriope, an ornamental grass, can be given a place, and Variegated Ajuga and a horizontal Cotoneaster are also good rockery plants.
What has been said about clothes-hoists can be applied to the area round the barbecue and septic tank. A few well-chosen plants make these areas quite attractive. The barbecue calls for special consideration, since it is a place for social affairs and eating. Here a moderate-sized deciduous tree or two can be planted. This will give shade in summer and allow the warm sunshine to penetrate to the eating area in winter.