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17 September 2014
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how to be a gardener - The complete online guide

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1 - Assessing your plot
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Plants need waterPlants need water
Just like you, plants need water. There must be a constant supply because plants are like giant wicks. Water is sucked from the soil by roots, drawn up the stem and lost through the leaves.

Your ‘soil moisture content’
The amount of water in the soil is influenced by:

  • Local annual rainfall
  • Time of year
  • Soil type
  • Aspect
  • The water table - the point in the soil at which water drains away
  • Shady or north facing corners often have damp soil
  • Much of the rainfall tends to come from the south west. Easterly aspects, protected by the house, tend to be dry.
  • South-facing beds, or those in the ‘rain shadow’ of a wall, tend to be dry.
Plants have evolved to take advantage of variations in moisture content. So on wet soil you can plant a bog garden and grow moisture-loving plants; on free-draining soil you can create a gravel garden full of drought-tolerant species.

Watch the clipWatch the video clip to find out why plants need water.
1. Know your plot

Assessing your plot
Analysing your soil
Drawing a survey
Test your knowledge
Go further

Plant lists Plant lists
Plants for dry or damp conditions:

Find thousands more plants in the BBC Gardening database.
Video Video
Why do plants need water? Watch the clip here.
Test your knowledge of planting in different lighting conditions. Or find out how to test your soil.
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