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START BY HEADING to your nearest garden centre or soils.org.za and selecting links, this will help you find a lab or university that can test your soil. They will tell you the nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, ph, and organic material levels so you’ll know if your ground needs soil amendments when you plant.
While you’re waiting for the results, check the soil depth in your potential planting area, says Jim Barborinas, an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist who runs Urban Forestry Services in Mount Vernon, Washington. “Dig at least 61 cm down, or use a soil probe, looking for clay and backfill.” Yards in urban spaces, he warns, are often filled with gravel that will need to be replaced. You can also alleviate clay soil, says Hennessy, by backfilling around the root ball with a mix of one part compost to two parts existing soil.