Landscaping with Different Kinds of Soil

It’s all about compatibility and suitability. One landscape concept may work easily in one location while it will take more work to see the same concept in another location. Mind you, it’s not impossible – you may just need the expertise and the experience of a seasoned Utah landscaping company to transform your landscape into the kind you dreamt it to be.

One of the first steps would be to determine the type of soil you will be dealing with. This will help you determine the kind of plants that will flourish in your garden, as well as what you need to do if you want to add plants that your soil is not so compatible with. Knowing your landscape’s soil type will also determine the kind of drainage system you need.

Knowing Your Soil Type

Pick up the soil and then squeeze it. This is best done while the soil is moist, especially after a good rain. If the soil has been dry, get a sample, place a few drops and then rub it. When it feels powdery (like wet talcum powder), it’s silt. If it feels a bit smooth and slippery and forms into a ball when compressed, it’s clayey soil. If it feels grainy and coarse, it’s sand. Sometimes, you get a combination – loam.

A more accurate way of determining soil type will be to have the soil tested. You can also ask your Salt Lake City landscaping company to do the testing for you. This will also show key indicators of your soil – such as whether the soil is acidic or alkaline and what nutrients and minerals are present.

The Qualities of the Various Soil Types

Soil Type Pros Cons What to do
Clay is cold soil that becomes heavier when dry. It can
harden, making it more difficult for air, light and even water to get
through. This kind of soil is ideal for trees, such as maples, elms, birch
and Cypress.
It retains its warmth, even during winter. It has the
ability to retain moisture and the earth’s minerals. Clay is negatively
charged, enabling it to attract and retain positively charged minerals such
as potassium, calcium or magnesium. Clay soil can also help prevent erosion.
Because this is denser soil, air has difficulty
penetrating it. The plant’s roots tend to suffocate when left unattended.
During the dry season, the moisture in the surface of the soil tends to
evaporate, which results in a plant’s stilted growth or even wither. Clay
also is slow to drain and have an alkaline nature
Add organic matter such as grass clippings, compost or
manure to the soil, at about six to eight inches. This organic matter should
be blended to the top of the soil so you need to pick a shovel and dig these
in. You can also use a tiller.
Sandy Soil
Light and dry, this kind of soil is composed of large
particles. It is grainy to the touch, with lots of space for air to penetrate
because of the space in between the sand particles. This type of soil is
ideal for evergreens. They are also great for daisies, trumpet vines, sumac
and Virginia creeper.
This is easy to cultivate. In fact, you can start
cultivating this soil earlier in the springtime (as compared to other soils)
since you can get this to warm up faster. This drains water more quickly.
Since water drains quickly, plants don’t have much of a
chance to absorb its nutrients as they are quickly washed down or away with
the water. This prevents seedlings from growing as they should since their
shallow roots are not yet able to penetrate deeper where the minerals and
nutrients are.
Since this soil has the tendency to lose the nutrients,
you need to apply more fertilizer, as well as organic matter (i.e. compost,
peat moss) to enrich the soil.
This is more compact than sandy soil, since its combines
both clay and smaller sand-like particles.
This soil is very fertile – combining the good properties
of clay and sand. It retains nutrients while draining water efficiently.
Slopes containing silt is prone to erosion. The particles
also become compacted more quickly.
Plants must be on raised beds to prevent compacting. You
can promote drainage by adding mulch and sand. You may also need to install
Utah pavers to serve as walkways to prevent the beds from becoming compacted.
This is near perfect as sands can go; it is a combination
of sand, clay and silt. It is rich in nutrients and has excellent water
retention (keeping just enough moisture in the soil and draining the excess
This is not called the gardener’s friend for nothing. It
encourages the growth of important microorganisms that a plant needs to
thrive. Thus, most plants will work in this kind of soil. It maintains ideal temperatures
in various weathers – warm during winters and cool during summers.
You may need to maintain this sand to ensure its richness. You can use this soil to supplement other soils.
Peat is a spongy kind of soil that contains a lot of
organic matter.
This needs only a bit of compost and is easier to work
with. It is quick to warm up during springtime.
This has a tendency to become waterlogged. It also has the
tendency to be acidic.
You need to provide an efficient draining mechanism.
Fertilizer should also be applied to further enrich the soil.