How to Pick a Tree to Plant

Use our tips to select the best tree at your local garden center or nursery.

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4-Step Outdoor Fall Window Box

Plant a beautiful outdoor fall display in four easy steps. Our editor shows you how to combine fall flowers and seasonal gourds to create a stunning window box (Hint: It looks great from inside the house, too!).

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Fall Tree Care

Get tips for preparing your trees for winter.

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Fall Garden Checklist

Get your yard ready for winter with these easy tasks.

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How to Plant Spring Bulbs

Plant spring-blooming bulbs in fall. Here┬┐s how!

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How to Deal with Fall Leaves

Make getting rid of fall leaves easy with these tips.

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Mums in the Fall Garden

Browse stunning types of mums, and see creative ways to incorporate mums into your fall landscape.

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How to do a Soil Test

A simple soil test will pinpoint what your soil lacks -- so you won't have to buy unneeded additives or the wrong plant.

A soil test has been noted by successful gardeners as the most efficient and money-saving step toward better gardening. A soil test measures levels of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) in your garden soil that are available to plants, as well as what your soil lacks.

The test also indicates your soil's pH level -- the relative acidity or alkalinity -- that affects how plants take up nutrients and thrive. Soil pH ranges from 1.0 (acid) to 14.0 (highly alkaline), with 7 being neutral. In certain regions, soil is typically more acid (in rainy regions) or more alkaline (in desert areas) and needs to be amended accordingly for plants to thrive there. To raise too-low pH (acidic): add lime, dolomite limestone, or wood ashes. To lower too-high pH (alkaline): add horticultural sulfur, composted oak leaves, or pine needles.

How to Do a Soil Test

  1. Collect soil from six different areas around the garden, using a trowel or spoon. 
  2. In each area, dig six inches deep and remove a sample of soil without collecting roots, mulch, or stones. 
  3. Mix samples in a quart jar. 
  4. Place the sample in a paper bag and send it to a soil lab or nearby county extension service. 
  5. Use a soil test kit from a garden center or nursery to test the sample yourself.

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