This section is from the book "Beautiful Gardens - How To Make Them And Maintain Them", by Walter P. Wright. Also available from Amazon: Beautiful Gardens: How To Make And Maintain Them.
A person with a fair amount of spare time should have no difficulty in managing his own garden if it is a small one - not exceeding half an acre in extent. In gardens of an acre and upwards regular assistance is likely to be required. But whether assistance is wanted or not, and if it is how much, will necessarily depend upon the character of the garden. A garden of an acre could be quite easily controlled if it were made up of a considerable area of grass, shrubberies, and herbaceous borders. The same area that included a kitchen garden, a tennis or croquet lawn, a number of flower beds, and two or three greenhouses, would provide enough work to fill all the time of an energetic man. A man an acre may be accepted as the proper allowance. And here a word may be said in reference to those places, the possession, generally, of small gentry with little money, less energy, and still less consideration for their fellow-creatures, where one hapless labourer is set the task of managing two or three acres of garden, an orchard, a poultry run, and a pony, and is then railed at because there is a weed on the drive, or a shortage of Asparagus, or the hens do not lay. We cannot accept them as gardens, or their owners as flower lovers.
In all gardens there must be one person responsible. It may be the owner, it may be the gardener - it cannot be both. The person who, employing a gardener or gardeners, nevertheless takes control of the garden, must, in justice, assume also the full responsibility. The plan of accepting credit for everything that goes right, and repudiating blame for everything that goes wrong, is not only unjust, but unwise. It discourages and irritates the gardener; and it so confuses the issue between master and servant that even when the latter is in fault it is difficult to define or bring home his delinquency.
Generally speaking, a man who has held head gardener's places is difficult to control. Unless he is an exceptionally tactful man (and most gardeners are not distinguished for tact), he cannot be handled. If, therefore, gardeners are employed in a place where the owner is himself the head gardener, they had better be men who have not held head places. If a head gardener is to be kept, get a good man, pay him fairly, give him reasonable assistance, and trust him.
There is one rule which every flower lover should begin with, and that is to bastard trench his soil. Would he form herbaceous borders? - let him bastard-trench. Would he make shrubberies? - let him bastard trench. Would he establish Rose beds? - let him again bastard trench. Bastard trenching is removing the top soil to the depth of a foot, breaking up the soil underneath a full spade depth, and then replacing the top soil in its original position. It is a great advantage to sandwich in between, while the courses are being shifted, a dressing, at the rate of a barrowful to every 10 square yards, of rich, decayed manure. The cost of bastard trenching by local labour will range from eightpence to one shilling and threepence per square rod, according to the district, and according as the soil is light or heavy. Where there is chalk, rock, or gravel a spade depth from the surface, bastard trenching becomes difficult, but at least the soil may be improved by digging as deeply as possible, and applying manure both underneath and on the top.