For home sites, the bottom line is pretty simple: You want soil that has good bearing capacity, exerts relatively low lateral pressure, and drains well, so that you can have a stable, dry foundation. The best natural soils for these purposes are sands and gravels. Silts and clays are fair, but the softest ones are poor. Then there are soils such as peat, expansive clay, and improperly deposited fill, which are so bad that they must usually be removed and replaced – often at considerable cost to you.
Lawn & Garden
If you have bare patches in your lawn, prepare these areas for seed or sod. To care for your new and existing grass, be sure to water properly.
Cultivate by hoeing to break up soil crusts and control weeds. Shallow rooted annuals are injured by deep, vigorous cultivation. Hoeing should be very shallow to cut weeds off just below the soil surface. As the annuals fill in, hand weeding may be the only practical alternative. Chemical weed preventers are available but they have a short life and must be reapplied. Most chemicals labeled for flowers do not give control of difficult perennial weeds.
Consider your finish grade around the house as part of the building process to ensure water is properly diverted away from your foundation.
The general rule of thumb is to fertilize cool season turf grasses, e.g., bluegrass, fescue or ryegrass in the fall months and warm season grasses, e.g., bermuda, zoysia and St Augustine in the summer months. Combination products of fertilizer with pesticides can provide excellent results. However, care must be taken to use the right product for the intended situation and to follow the directions on the label. With fertilizer, more is never better.
Place rows of trees or shrubs to avoid soil loss from wind and also to create a habitat and shelter for wildlife. Windbreaks can minimize the wind around your home and serve as a sight and sound barrier.
Pruning ground covers is usually necessary only to remove unhealthy tissue or awkward or straggling branches, or to keep a plant from becoming too invasive. Vigorous ground covers include honeysuckle, goutweed, snow-in-summer, wintercreeper and English ivy.
Certain plants–such as honeysuckle, pachysandra, euonymus and English ivy–should be mowed or cut back to 5 to 6 inches in height every year or two to keep the beds vigorous, neat and more pest free. Be sure to use sharp cutting equipment.
Water new shrubs once a week the first summer with 5 to 10 gallons of water for each depending on the size of the bush. Take care to get the water under any mulch, which absorbs a great deal of moisture and robs the soil below. Pour water right down the stems so it goes into the root ball, and does not run off on the ground. During very hot sunny days, spray the tops and water lightly in addition to the weekly deep watering. Do not fertilize the first year, except possibly for half strength liquid fertilizer at planting time, or plant rooting hormone additives one can use. Fertilize normally the second year in the spring.
Naturalizing simply refers to a way of planting bulbs so they appear as though Mother Nature had done the planting. That is, instead of planting in evenly spaced rows, the bulbs are planted in large drifts, much as you would find plants in nature. One way to achieve this effect is to scatter a handful of bulbs, then plant them where they land. To create a bed that reblooms every year, choose bulbs that are naturally long-lasting and multiply freely, such as daffodils, grape hyacinths, and crocuses.
Herbs can help repel insects in the vegetable garden, and provide important habitat for beneficial insects.