One of the fundamentals of gardening is the earth; if you can create perfect growing conditions for your plants, they will reward you with abundant flowers and healthy foliage.
In general, there are four different types of earth, clay, sand, silt and chalk, each brings their own challenges.
Chalky earth is the hardest because it is too free draining and will require the addition of a large quantity of organic matter to improve.
However if you like to grow perennial plants then they will appreciate these conditions.
If your earth is sandy then you will need to add plenty of mushroom compost, which is readily available. It contains lots of lime so Azaleas and Rhododendrons will not be happy. To overcome this, substitute an organic substance more suited to their requirements.
Silt can be acidic or alkaline so a soil test will be required to determine what will grow in it. Small inexpensive soil testing kits are sold at most nurseries.
Earth that is silt is possibly the most suitable for growing a large range of plants, however it is not recommended to work on silt if it is very wet. The nature of this earth means that it recovers slowly from this type of disturbance.
The most likely type of earth you will have is clay and despite misconceptions, this is a positive fact in your favor.
Clay earth can be very productive if the right additives are dug into it. Besides organic matter, there are a number of alternative products that can be used to good effect.