By Erica Etelson
Before you plant anything, it helps to know something about your soil's structure and chemistry. To test the pH, buy a soil-test kit, available at most nurseries, or send a cup of dry sample soil in a container or bag to your local agricultural extension office (http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/ can help you find the nearest one). For a small fee they can analyze your soil type, determining if it's predominantly clay, sand, or silt, and measure its degree of acidity or alkalinity. Once you have this information, you may have to add nutrients to the soil or simply rule out certain plants. You might want a wall of blueberries in your yard, for instance, but if you have heavy clay soil, the roots will probably rot. To find out what plants work best for each type of soil, check with your local nursery.