Soil: Considerations for Your Landscape Design

by Landscape Design

The base of a healthy yard or garden is, of course, the soil. It sounds like a simple and obvious observation, but the truth is that there is a lot of science and thought that goes into the creation of the correct soil base that will allow your planting to thrive. Soil amendments are substances that may be incorporated into the existing soil to improve it by, for example, adjusting the pH or texture.

Soil Texture

Soil texture is especially critical as it relates to how water is stored and moves through the ground. For your plants to be healthy over the long term, it’s important that the soil store the correct amount of water, allowing the roots to receive the nourishment they need without being flooded by too much residual moisture. There are 4 standard classifications for soil texture: sands, silts, loams, and clays. Sandy soils, such as those we frequently encounter here in south Florida, are considered coarse in texture, which allows water to drain much more quickly than in more finely textured soils. This has its benefits, but also presents challenges.

Similarly, the soil in different geographic regions may be more likely to be higher or lower in acidity, which contributes to which sorts of plants may do better or worse in that setting. This is fairly easy to test with a standard pH testing kit available at your local garden center. Best practices recommend testing your soil acidity annually and adjusting accordingly.

Soil Amendments

Soil amendments, added to modify the texture or acidity of your soil, may frequently be simply organic materials such as compost, peat moss, or plant waste. These are generally easy and cost-effective to acquire and can be very beneficial. It’s useful to distinguish soil amendments from fertilizers. Whereas fertilizers add nutrients, soil amendments are intended to change the basic make-up of the soil itself. It’s important to incorporate these products well before planting to ensure they have time to create the desired effect, and to create soil that is appropriately receptive to the intended planting.

Adjusting Soil PH

If your specific aim is to adjust the pH of your soil, there are several recommended soil amendments to consider, such as lime and sulfur. If your soil is too acidic, which is hostile to grass growth, for instance, lime may be helpful to raise the pH to something more alkaline. Alternatively, sulfur may be beneficial for soils that are too alkaline and require a lower pH. Certain flowering plants strongly prefer an acidic soil base. Properly balanced pH is critical to allow plants of all kinds to absorb nutrients efficiently. It’s about more than aesthetics, too; this will contribute to the overall health and strength of the plant.

As a part of our landscape installation and management services, Legacy Landscaping will take into account your soil type, texture, pH and more in helping you to create a viable landscaping plan, and can make recommendations for how your soil may need to be adjusted to best support your objectives. We are experts in the ecology of our local south Florida area, and work closely with clients to ensure your landscaping is primed for long-term health. Have questions about your soil? Contact us for a consultation!