Soil Basics

When you are trying to establish your landscape the first thing to evaluate is the quality of your soil. This will be one of the essential elements that determines success or failure in your lawn and garden. Soil is a combination of complex parts, decaying pieces of plants, animals and microorganisms, along with minerals and the living portion of the soil such as earthworms. It is a living thing which will have a huge impact on your landscape!

Different soil types have different properties, including those of soil texture and structure. These properties will have a big impact on how the soil responds to external influences such as water. An example is sand, it has large particles which have a lot of space between them meaning water will run through it very quickly, washing away the nutrients. So plants which can survive in sandy conditions have adapted to this low level of nutrients and water.

The varying textures and structures also affect how the soil feels along with how it looks. Sandy soils with the larger particles feel gritty and will trickle through your fingers. Clay soils have the smallest particles, which are not discernable to the naked eye, it feels sticky and will clump together when wet. Loam has properties of both, a nice mix of sand and clay preferred by most gardeners.

Of course we would all like to have loam in our landscapes but that is very often not the case, so we need to learn to work with what is present in our gardens and lawns, along with a plan to increase organic matter every year. Nature’s Friends Landscaping can help you evaluate and test your soil, and they can help you add mulches and other fertilizers to optimize it.

Don’t try to establish plants who prefer good drainage into a clay type soil, it just won’t work. Find plants who don’t mind slow drainage, and in the future you can continue to add mulches and other organic matter such as compost, leaves and grasses to improve the soil you already have in your garden.

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